Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Costello Lippitt (1842-1924)

From the Genealogical and Biographical Record of New London County, 1905.

  For many years a distinguished banker and financier in New London County, Connecticut, Costello Lippitt didn't enter the political life of his state until well into his sixth decade, winning election as the Mayor of Norwich in 1908. Lippitt would achieve further distinction as a high ranking Mason in the state, and in 1911 began a term as State Treasurer of Connecticut.  Born in East Killingly, Connecticut on December 12, 1842, Costello Lippitt was the only child of Norris Greenleaf (1817-1887) and Eliza (Leffingwell) Lippitt (1819-1863).  He would attend the public schools of East Killingly and the Norwich Free Academy and later enrolled at the Wesleyan University in Middletown, earning his master's degree in 1867. 
  Costello Lippitt married in August 1864 to Emily Hyde Standish, to whom he was wed until her death in 1889. The couple would have two children, Mary Bell (1865-1908) and Norris Standish (1867-1928). Norris Lippitt would later follow his father into finance, serving as the assistant teller for the Norwich Savings Bank. Following his wife's death in 1889 Lippitt remarried in 1891 to Gertrude Hopkins Lamphere (1858-1922), whom he also survived.
  Lippitt first entered into the world of finance in 1864 when he entered into a clerkship at the Thames National Bank, continuing in the role into the following year. In 1865 he took on a similar post at the Norwich Savings Bank, and by 1881 had succeeded to the post of secretary and treasurer of that bank, which would grow to become the second largest in Connecticut. In addition to this bank, Lippitt also was a trustee and director of the Norwich Savings Society and was president of the Merchant's National Bank, the former having a "savings deposit of nearly $15,000,000" during his tenure.
  With his name firmly established in Norwich's financial sector, Lippitt would achieve further distinction in the civic affairs of Norwich, being the first president of the board of trustees for the Norwich Hospital for the Insane. He would occupy similar posts on the boards for the Norwich Free Academy and the Eliza Huntington Memorial Home, and in the late 1890s served as a director for the Norwich Street Railway Company. A Mason of high standing in New London County, Lippitt became a Master Mason in the Somerset Lodge No. 34 in Norwich and would not only attain the 33rd degree but also became an Eminent Commander of the Columbian Commandery No. 4, Knights Templar and was a Past Grand Commander for Connecticut in 1892.

From the Norwich Bulletin, December 13, 1911.

   Costello Lippitt refrained from pursuing public office until well into his sixties. In early 1908 he was induced to run for Mayor of Norwich and in June of that year defeated longtime Democratic mayor Charles F. Thayer in a close race, with a "majority of only 75." Lippitt would serve a two-year term as mayor (his term concluding in June 1910) and would be succeeded by the man whom he had bested in 1908, Charles Thayer. 
  In April 1910 Lippitt announced that he'd be seeking the Republican nomination for State Treasurer, and throughout the succeeding months various Connecticut newspapers profiled Lippitt's candidacy, while also booming his past successes in banking and as mayor, with the Litchfield Inquirer remarking:
"It would be hard to imagine a man better equipped for the state treasurership. For many years he has held responsible positions connected with money institutions and his integrity is as strong as his executive ability is pronounced."
  In November 1910 Lippitt won the treasurer's office, defeating Democratic nominee Edward T. Brown by a vote of 79, 383 to 73, 511. Lippitt's tenure as treasurer extended until 1913, and in December 1911 was honored with a surprise birthday party by members of his staff, receiving multiple gifts and roses, as well as a humorous letter, stating:
"Costello Lippitt is hereby sentenced to a life term in the state treasurer's department, or else he should hang on to his present office for forty years. The culprit is hereby directed to choose which sentence he will take, and in either case the office force wishes him long life and much happiness."
  Following his leaving the treasurer's office Lippitt continued prominence in Norwich, being elected as grand treasurer for the Grand Commandery of the Knights Templar of Connecticut. He would continue involvement with the Norwich Savings Society (being vice-president, secretary, and treasurer), and in December 1921 marked 57 years of affiliation with that institution. Widowed for a second time in 1922 with the death of his wife Gertrude, Costello Lippitt died in Norwich on August 21, 1924, at age 81. He was survived by his son Norris and was subsequently interred alongside his wives and daughter Mary at the Yantic Cemetery in Norwich.


From Taylor's Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1912.

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