Home of the Bachelor

Known Name(s)

Home of the Bachelor


20 Brewer St. New London, CT

Establishment Type(s)

Tourist Home

Physical Status


Detailed History

This tourist home was run by Mrs. Mattie E. Bell. She was born in 1878, possibly in the house at 20 Brewer Street (per 1940 census), to parents who had come north from North Carolina and Virginia around the turn of the century. Mattie married Carter A. Bell in 1905 in New London, and they moved to New Haven, where Carter was a cook in a club. By 1912, however, Mattie and Carter had separated, and she returned to New London in the early 1920s.

Mattie lived in her family home on Brewer Street, where she ran a beauty shop from 1927 to 1930 and began offering furnished rooms in 1931, advertising in The Green Book. By 1940, she was working as a secretary and no longer offered furnished rooms in city directories, although she continued her listing in The Green Book. Beginning in 1940, she had a Black lodger, Marguerite Scott, who was a 37-year-old music teacher. While Mattie Bell no longer appears in city directories after 1943, and may have died, Marguerite Scott continued to offer rooms to traveling African Americans at 20 Brewer St. while she lived there.

The census information for Mattie E. Bell is particularly intriguing. Records consistently list her husband, Carter, as Black, and Mattie is identified as Negro in 1910 and 1940. But in the 1930 census, her race is identified as white (date of birth, parentage, address, occupation are consistent with other censuses), suggesting that Mattie had fair skin and could pass as white.

Source: 1910, 1930, 1940 federal census; cds from 1924 to 1940; CT Marriage Records (ancestry.com)

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