History

The Sterling Family

In the 19th century, The Sterlings, one of Stratford’s oldest and wealthiest families, built their family homestead, a grand Romanesque mansion, on Main Street. The land was owned by Captain John Sterling, a successful seafarer who plied the profitable trade routes from New York to China, and his wife Catherine Tomlinson Plant. Their son, John W. Sterling, a highly successful lawyer in New York City and co-founder of Shearman & Sterling, built the mansion in 1886 and lived here with his sisters, Catherine and Cordelia.

In 1918, John Sterling died, leaving Yale a large legacy gift of $30 million. To his sister Cordelia, who we celebrate as our founder, he left the mansion and a sizable legacy.  Upon her death in 1931, Cordelia donated the gift of the Sterling mansion in her will, and park-liked grounds to the people of Stratford.

About the House

The stately Sterling House is found within the Stratford Center Historic District, part of the National Registry of Historical Places. It was designed by Bruce Price of New York who also designed Osborne Hall and Welch Hall at Yale University. The homestead’s lawns and gardens were originally planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, who was the landscape architect of New York’s Central Park.

Since its opening, Sterling House has been a House for all ages. The mission Cordelia set forth, and the one we continue today, is to foster the physical, social, emotional, artistic and intellectual growth of our community.

It is here, in this brick red house, with eight acres of rolling lawns and ancient, generously shading trees that Sterling House Community Center was founded in 1932.