Elm Street sits along the southern edge of Bushnell Park in Hartford, Connecticut and it boasts several of the city’s listed historic buildings. Today, several of these buildings are occupied by CT government departments – Hartford is the state capital, but these beauties began their lives serving Hartford’s signature industry, insurance. In the 1920s, Elm Street was known as “Insurance Row” boasting three major insurers along a small block. In the years since, the insurance industry has steadily fled Hartford for the suburbs and other states, and the state has grown from the ashes.
I use that metaphor because one of the buildings is the old Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance building. Phoenix hasn’t left Hartford; they moved their home office to an iconic structure, affectionately known as the Boat Building, near the CT River waterfront. The State Department of Environmental Protection moved into and eventually expanded the Phoenix building. I have to admit, considering the lowest-bidder mentality of the state, the addition doesn’t look too bad. They managed to come close with the façade and they did echo the window placement and even the mosaic panels.
The original brick and terra-cotta, Italian Renaissance style building was completed in 1920. The addition was completed in 1990. I should note that Phoenix Insurance and Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance were both located on Elm St. I’m not sure of the exact locations. But Phoenix Insurance arrived in 1917.
A few years earlier, in 1914, The Scottish Union and National Insurance Co. building, was built at 75 Elm Street and became the first insurance company to sit beside Bushnell .Park. The company had an interesting lifespan, but sadly is no longer with us in any form. From the archive webpage:
“The Union Insurance Company was established on November 20 1824 as the Scottish Union Insurance Company. In 1833, the company obtained a royal charter and was incorporated under an act of parliament on April 9 1847.”
An auspicious start, at least by American corporate standards. Also from their archive page, I love looking at some of the risks they insured against:
“By 1909, the company was offering insurance against fire, lightning and explosion, personal accident and illness, burglary and theft, glass breakage, employers’ liabilities, third-party liabilities, transit of securities, fidelity, property owners’ liabilities, motor car risks, horse-driving accidents, marine, life and endowments, annuities and pensions, leasehold and capital redemptions. By 1927, it had added wireless installations, householders’ consolidated, boiler explosion, machinery risks and lift accidents insurance.”
Despite their location in Hartford, I’m assuming they are still using the word “lift” in reference to elevators, an industry that also resides in the suburbs of Hartford. After 1927, Union Insurance merged, was acquired, and changed product line and names several times. Again, from the archive:
“On November 27 2002, the company changed its name to Aviva Insurance Ltd and again, two days later, to Aviva Insurance. On August 15 2006, the company was renamed the Union Insurance Company and on September 23 2008 it was put into liquidation.”
I’m not sure when the company abandoned the building at 75 Elm St, but it’s been the home of the State of CT Appellate Court since 2004.
The other buildings in the gallery are a little farther up Elm St from the CT-EPA offices. I was drawn to them by the presence of a blue door. One seems to be “in between tenants” while the others house a law firm and what appears to be private residences. The other major building on Elm St. requires a bit more research on my part and probably has enough history to rate its own post.
Thursday Doors is a weekly opportunity to share and to see photos of doors from around the world. Facilitated by Norm Frampton, this web-based phenomenon is easy to participate in. Move on up to Norm’s page – look at his doors – ‘cuz it’s only right, and then click the blue button.