Thursday Doors – Elm Street Hartford

Appellate Court

Appellate Court

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.

Boat Building

The Boat Building – right-center

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.

Sottish Union

Sottish Union

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.

About Dan Antion

Husband, father, woodworker, cyclist, photographer, geek - oh wait, I’m writing this like I only have 140 characters. I am all those things, and more, and all of these passions present me with opportunities to observe, and think about things that I can’t write about in other places. I have started this blog to catch the stuff that falls out, overflows and just plain doesn’t fit the other containers in my life.
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65 Responses to Thursday Doors – Elm Street Hartford

  1. reocochran says:

    I liked your comment “move on up to Norm’s place,” Dan! (“The Jefferson’s!” am I right?)
    Anyway, the first door and story about Insurance buildings all in a row was very relevant to my Mom’s life. . . Her Dad got a job for an insurance company in Hartford which meant her family took her from early elementary years in Springfield, Mass to Hartford, CT.
    Those appellate court doors for the State of Connecticut are absolutely stunning! Thanks for the informative article which I will come back to absorb, later in the day.
    Happy Thursday’s Doors, Dan! :)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the entry at the court, with the matching lampposts. Have a thriving Thursday.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the thorough commentary you give to the doors. They have seen a lot and still elegant.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. loisajay says:

    The theme seemed to be arched windows/doors. Gosh, they are so pretty. I love that the unoccupied ‘red door’ still has a pot of flowers to welcome you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Lois. I really liked the doors in those three connected buildings. There is something attractive about arched windows. I also liked the flowers. Maybe they are trying to rent it and want folks to feel welcome.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    I’ll make sure that Honey see’s this post too. On the drive up on Friday we were talking about Hartford and how and why it became such a hub for the insurance industry.
    The red door is my fave along with the Appellate Court building – nicely done :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Norm. I do like that red door. I also like the blue one. I can only guess that CT had some laws that were favorable to insurance companies. I’m just happyto see these buildings being maintained and in use. That’s prime real estate. I could see someone knocking those down in a heartbeat.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Joanne Sisco says:

    Wow, Dan. There’s a lot to like in here! … but the Phoenix Mutual Life building with those decorative panels between the windows really pops out for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Those panels are beautiful, Joanne. The ones in the addition aren’t quite as nice, but it was a good attempt. It’s a short walk. There’s another building east of the court and the state capitol is just west of the three buildings with the blue-red-green doors. It’s a very beautiful block. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. So interesting. I like your very interest because so many seem to take so much forgranted!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like the red door best this week, but what beautiful buildings and doors all around.

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  9. marianallen says:

    I do love that blue door — and don’t envy whoever has to carry anything heavier than a feather up those stairs! That red building! With the towers! I WANT IT SO!!! *whew* Sorry. Great pics and history. Thank you for the ‘scursion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      Thanks Marian. I knew someone would like the blue door. I’ll be back to visit this block at some point. There’s still one amazing building left. I do think that if you lived behind that blue door, you would have stuff delivered.

      Like

  10. Paul says:

    Red, blue, brown, green — quite a variety of colors in your doors today, Dan, and some interesting buildings to go with them. Too bad Union/Aviva Insurance isn’t still around — given the wide variety of coverage they offered, you might have been able to get a policy for “Door Photographers Who Raise Suspicions.”

    Liked by 1 person

  11. joey says:

    Stunning collection!
    Maybe you didn’t capture the statue the way you wanted, but it’s a lovely photograph, I promise. So many, I’m going to forget all my thoughts — but oh yes on the building with the arches and the shot of the window with the brick pretties and the lamp! Ooh!
    Also, Smokey the Bear in the city! How exciting!
    I hate how so many otherwise attractive doors are posted with bills! Good grief, they should STOP THAT RIGHT NOW!
    Great doors!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      We need a kickstarter campaign to ban posting crap on doors! I’m glad you like the statue. I really need to work on getting close-up of things like that to include, but I didn’t have a lot of time. I really like the size of those lamps. They seem to fit perfectly. Thanks for the support :)

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Ruth says:

    Plenty stone steps in front of your doors today, too! :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Val Boyko says:

    Great doors and great buildings captured so well Dan!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Nato says:

    Some great doors here. It’s a shame about the few that need a little love. These old buildings have so much more character than the new ones it seems. Though that “boat building” is pretty cool. However, I still prefer the look of the old bricks. Great post Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. cwaugh212 says:

    As a former CT resident (Coventry for 12 years) I really enjoy your door posts. I also consulted at both Aetna and Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. Seeing your pictures brings much of it back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I’m glad you enjoy these. I was consulting, off and on at the Aetna in the early 80s as well. You probably remember the other building on this street. It’s the one at the traffic circle that they used to call “Little Aetna”. That will be featured in a future post. Thanks for dropping by

      Like

      • cwaugh212 says:

        Yes. I look forward to that feature. I actually helped install the Medicare claims processing system at Aetna. They had the Part B contract for six different western states. I moved there from Dallas, TX because I wanted to get back to the northeast.

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Great history Dan! I love the Court’s door, and the lamps. The patina gets me every time!

    I also really like the distressed doors and entryway to the Law Firm, but it would give me second thoughts about hiring them. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I love the buildings that the blue and red doors belong to, with those fabulous bay windows on the front.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. jan says:

    My mother worked for an insurance company on insurance row in Hartford. I’m sure she’s going to enjoy your post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dan Antion says:

      I ope she enjoys it. The next post (maybe in October) will be the other building, the one known as “The Little Aetna” – I still have to dig up some information on that one. Thanks Jan.

      Like

  19. Great iconic buildings, Dan. It’s funny that while I worked in Hartford for years, I never really took the time to really look at them. Glad I can do it now :-)

    Liked by 1 person

  20. jesh stg says:

    Interesting history about the insurers! My favorite building is the white and red building on the bottoms – my prejudice is that I always go for colors first:)

    Liked by 1 person

  21. bikerchick57 says:

    Nice doors, Dan. Again, your area of the country has some great architecture in its older buildings. They are so inviting. Today I’m drawn to the blue door (I’d like to see the space inside) and the building with the red door (is there a cool apartment or flat inside?).

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Super post, Dan. I love these Harford buildings.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Jennifer S. says:

    Yup, that’s a private residence. The mayor’s, in fact!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Bee Halton says:

    Lovely doors. Especially the red and blue one. Here in the UK we still have AVIVA as an insurance. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  25. dweezer19 says:

    I love the red door!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Good one. When I read the title, I assumed you’re going to take me on a horror journey. Why? The word Elm Street reminded me of A Nightmare on Elm Street. These days I have been watching too many horror films. However, I loved the history and pictures that took me on a unique trip.

    Liked by 2 people

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