Thursday Doors – Lewis Street

Center Church - Hartford, CT
Center Church – Hartford, CT

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.”

The large building at the lower right is Center Church. 3 Lewis is at the upper right
The large building at the lower right is Center Church. 3 Lewis is at the upper right

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.


  1. I’m having a difficult time wrapping my head around the cost of rent at 36 Lewis Street. That’s the price of a mortgage payment for a really nice house around here. I would expect that kind of rent in NYC, not Hartford…or is that normal for the area?

    Nice doors, Dan. Plus you get 50 bonus points for the Borg mention.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, bonus points :)

      There are cheaper rents in the area, but that’s somewhat normal for a “luxury” apartment in the city center. I guess, if you work downtown, there are some benefits, but there are much better options for housing, unless you really want an active night life. In many ways. Hartford is a more expensive than it should be.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Walking down this street really does feel like going back in time. It’s quite busy in the morning, as it’s a favorite overnight parking area (made it hard to get photos). I’m so glad that it seems this area will be preserved.


  2. Terrific collection of doors, Dan. I can’t decide which I like best. Center Church is beautiful, such symmetry. However, I’m very drawn to to the “lovely little house.” The lighting makes it look so welcoming and safe. Have a thriving Thursday! Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, the little apartment is expensive! Rent is as high there as it is here. :(

    I love the golden glow on the transom window of one the houses you featured.

    There really is a lot of contrast with old and new around there. It looks lovely in low light with the lamps on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is expensive. The taxes in Hartford are off the charts the city is almost bankrupt). The street is across the street from Bushnell Park. It’s a wonderful little area, but I don’t know if it’s worth that price. It was fun to walk through, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is interesting to learn about the history of places. I like the doors with with curving arches and the curved windows over the top. (I know there is a architectual term for that..) Assimilated by the Borg, good one. :D

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Assimilated by the Borg. LOL! We don’t have interstate banking in Indiana, so that might be funnier to me than to others.
    So much red brick there, and yet, it never gets old. I love how they kept the bank’s original facade intact. Good stuff. Some of the lights in the windows are warm enough to look like reflections.
    Great doors!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. So many of the other downtown buildings have fancy granite and limestone, imported from here, there and everywhere, but I love these brick buildings. Being early for my appointment gave me access to that nice morning light.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Good on them for preserving the original facade. The green door and white columns of #6 Lewis are lovely.
    A pastor named Hooker eh? Guffaw! I think I’ll just leave that one for another day ;-)
    Oh my those rents! If Hartford doesn’t know that it’s not New York, or San Fran, or Vancouver, then maybe someone should tell them?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. It’s funny, I moved from New York City to Seattle and then to Hartford and the cost of living never really changed much at all. However, Hartford doesn’t have nearly as much to offer. I am glad they preserved the original facade on the bank, especially since it sits looking down this street. Thomas Hooker is one of our famous guys. We learned about him in junior high school, when every boy in the class let his mind made that same mental jump.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. They did Jean. Most of the early settlements were really a congregation that left England for more freedom in the way they worshiped. All the early towns in CT grew out of a church and, as the cities grew, the number of churches grew. They had to, because you had to be able to get to and from the church in a single day, and travel was difficult.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. is 1900 a month good or bad?

    and the photos had a “light” theme to me.
    some were lit with a welcome light- others no light – and a few had sky light and other lights.
    very nice.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comment. Some of the places are residential, some are commercial (professional offices) which may account for the different lighting. $1,900+ a month is a bit steep for me, but not a surprise. Property taxes in Hartford are off the charts expensive,

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This was a magnificent example of doors with a long post on the roots and heritage of this area of Hartford, CT.
    Dan, I loved the pretty golden-lit home. You labeled it, “lovely little house.” <3
    I enjoyed the arch and multiple paned glass windows in the Mechanic Savings Bank. The original bank structure was even more splendid!!
    As I was looking at the variety this week, I wanted to say, "You give us awesome doors!" :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My earlier reply got cut short, as I was working from my phone and, well fat fingers… I’m glad you enjoyed this post. I was only planning to feature the Mechanics Savings Bank, but then I had to walk, and then, and then, and well, we went around the block.


  9. Nice post, Dan. Hope you got your haircut after getting immersed into your old neighborhood and history. Photographers see similar – I saw the same lighted transom that Deborah mention and thought it stood out (like a beacon to moths at night). One of these days, I’ll have to go back to my old office building which was transformed after Twitter moved in next door and the buildings’ owner saw the $$$ in buying out our lease (SF gov’t offices) and kicked us out (I was there over a year ago and the transformation was unimaginable) but first I’ll have to go archiving to see if I ever retained photos of the old building’s facade before the renovation to show the comparisons.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. It’s interesting to see the things that appear/appeal to different people. I wish I had pictures from 35 years ago when I worked in this area. Some things haven’t changed much at all, but some buildings have been knocked down and replaced. I don’t mind so much when modern buildings change, but I’m really glad to see these old buildings being preserved. I imagine that real estate in your area is chaotic. I hope you ended up in a nicer office.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, finally got an office with a window when we moved to the SF Public Utilities Commission’s old office; my office had the largest window overseeing United Nations Plaza (where the homeless hung out) but good viewing when parades for the Superbowl champs or World Series champs parade by. Only problem was, I had decided that I had done enough and didn’t want the pending promotion I was to apply for and reitred so I was there for only 6 months.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the red brick style buildings compared to the glass one these days we see so often. I love the arches and the pillars and all those intricate designs on the walls. You often say that there are not many old buildings around, but over the period of time, you have photographed so many.

    Liked by 1 person

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