Once again, arriving early for a haircut appointment allowed time for a mini-doorscursion. I wanted to walk half way around the block to get a picture of the Mechanics Savings Bank entrance. When they built their new home office, they agreed to incorporate the entrance façade of the original bank. Before they built the new building, I had done some consulting work with them. That’s a long story, perhaps another day. Shortly after they completed the high-rise, interstate banking came to Connecticut and Mechanics Savings Bank found itself unable to compete. Eventually, it was
assimilated by the Borg to become part of Webster Bank.
In order to get a good photo of the building, I had to walk down Lewis St. I have very good memories of Lewis St, particularly 36 Lewis St which, when I worked in Hartford was the home of 36 Lewis, a restaurant and bar. On any given Friday, a group from our office could be found at 36 Lewis.
36 Lewis closed in the 80s. The location became home to an “after hours” club and was quite popular until the late 90s. The building remained vacant and only recently was renovated into a few apartments. If you’d like to live in a historic district of downtown Hartford, you can rent a 980 sf (91 sq meters) apartment for $1,984 a month.
As I was searching for information on 36 Lewis St, I ended up knee deep in articles about the nightclub that had closed. Switching to Plan-B, I decided to see if the building might be on the Registry of Historic Buildings. I was surprised to discover that the building is included in “The Lewis Street Block,” which was added to the registry in 1974. Interestingly, at the time of the application, 36 Lewis St. was vacant but “clear plans were in place to turn the building into a restaurant.” The following is from the nomination form of the National Registry of Historic Places:
“Lewis Street is being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places because it is the last of the mid-nineteenth century/early twentieth century blocks in central downtown Hartford, Connecticut.
It contains structures which are high-style, characteristic of the eras in which they were built. Lewis Street is significant as a mid-nineteenth century neighborhood of modest homes, together with a turn-of-the-century church building and early twentieth century office buildings. It is now the only extant district of its era in central downtown Hartford? All others having been destroyed. In the beginning, Lewis Street was the westernmost street on the edge of Hartford as the city developed westward from the Connecticut River.”
Anchoring the southeast corner of Lewis St. is The First Church of Christ in Hartford, known as Center Church. The church was first established in 1632 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with roots to Essex County, England. Thomas Hooker was to be its first pastor. A dispute between Mr. Hooker and John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, led Hooker and a group of parishioners to travel from Cambridge to the Connecticut River valley, where they settled Hartford in 1636. The current church was completed in 1807.
There are many important highlights from the church’s history, on their website. The following is one that I think is worth sharing:
“The Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were adopted in the first meeting house by representatives from Windsor, Wethersfield, and Hartford. This document served as a model for the United States Constitution. As a prelude to the drafting of the Fundamental Orders, Thomas Hooker preached a sermon in which he stated, ‘The foundation of authority is laid firstly in the free consent of the people’.”
The buildings on Lewis Street were built by a small number of people, and they share similar features and some share identical doors. Of course, the “doors” part is interesting because this post is part of Norm Frampton’s sweet little weekly series Thursday Doors. If you want to join us, gather your loyal band of parishioners and head on up to Norm’s place. Check out his doors and then look for the blue frog. Click that tadpole and enter the world of doors.