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19 Richmond Road
The Joseph Reilly house, c. 1927

The property upon which both 15 and 19 Richmond Road were built was part of a large tract of land comprised of about four acres that had belonged to William and Josephine Craw who lived at the top of the hill behind Richmond Road. The Craw's large Gothic Revival home at 11 Craw with its three-story watchtower stood out among the simpler oystermen’s homes in the neighborhood, not just because of its lovely architectural details, but also because of the luxury it offered its inhabitants; included in these novel amenities were a lily pond and a caretaker. In its heyday, the house was surrounded by an apple orchard that ran all the way down to Roton and Rowayton Avenues and to Crockett Street on the northern side.


In 1922, Mrs. Craw hired engineer Samuel W. Hoyt, Jr. [1] to draw up plans to develop some of her property, including the creation of two new roads, Drum and Richmond. After Mrs. Craw’s death in 1926, the Craw house and property were sold. The Craw land was divided into sites for new homes, a number of which were built from Sears, Roebuck kits.

In 1930, Joseph Reilly of Westport purchased the Sears, Roebuck kit house at 19 Richmond and lived there until 1944 when he sold the property to Dwight C. and Phyliss R. Crocker.


Less than four months later, the Crockers sold the house to James Elton Birchard and his English-born wife Alberta Burton Birchard. Elton had been born in New York and grown up in the Bronx, but his grandfather Henry L. Case was a Rowayton oysterman who, with his wife Kate, raised his family on Crockett Street.


Elton and Alberta married in 1925, and by 1930, were renting a house in Stamford. At the time of his enlistment in World War II, Elton was working at the Industrial Corporation and living with his wife as tenants of 182 Rowayton Avenue. Elton and his wife purchased 19 Richmond Road following his service in the Army. They raised two sons, Douglas and Robert.


The 1950 US Census reported that Elton was unable to work that year, so it’s possible he was badly injured during his time in the War. Although Elton couldn’t work, Alberta was employed by a magazine publishing company as a clerk, and their son Doug worked as a garbage truck driver. Robert Birchard was still in school at this time.

By 1954, Elton had passed away; Alberta continued her work as a clerk at a magazine and died in 1975. Both Elton and Alberta are buried at Rowayton Union Cemetery on Rowayton Avenue.


In 1976, Robert Birchard and his wife Annie purchased the house from Alberta’s estate.


After belonging to the Birchard family for 67 years, the house was sold to new owners in 2017.                                                                        

[1] Mr. Hoyt had also worked on 6 Vincent Place and the development of Covewood Drive.

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15 Richmond Road, Map #479 (1921)_edited

Josephine Chapin Craw

1922 Plans for developing Drum and Richmond Roads

Sears ad for the kit house at
15 and 19 Richmond Road

19 Richmond Truck crushed at 19 Richmond
Doug Birchard and Roy Strand built this

The Birchards' truck after Super Storm Sandy
in 2012

Doug Birchard and Roy Strand built this car at the bottom of Drum 1950s. The shed was horse barn.

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