Thursday Doors – Pearl Street

Ados Israel – For Sale

This is one of those doors posts that is hard to start and hard to end. It’s like painting the molding in your house, where the door trim leads to the baseboard and so on and so forth. This started when I was early for my haircut in Hartford and found three buses parked on the street where I normally park. I looped around and parked near the building featured to the right. Of course, you know what happened next.

I took some pictures of the surrounding buildings, and thought that I had completed a pretty straight-forward mini-doorscursion. However, when I started to do my research on this building, I realized that nothing is easy.

This section of Pearl Street runs between Ann Uccello St. and Haynes St. Ann St, as it was known when I moved to Hartford was named for Ann Uccello, Hartford’s first female mayor. I guess nobody remembered who she was, so they expanded the name a few years ago, to beg the question “Siri, who the heck was Ann Uccello?

When searching for information on “Ados Isreal” I discovered that the building is part of the “Ann Street Historic District,” which is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. There are too many buildings in this district to include in one doors post, and like my painting problem, it’s hard to know where to stop. I’ve decided to error on the side of brevity.

No, seriously, this is Dan at the keyboard.

Although I am including pictures of the other buildings on this section of Pearl St. I’m only going to describe this building. To do otherwise, would force me to take you down Ann St. I’ll come back and do that later. Maybe after my next haircut.

Our featured building is the former Ados Israel synagogue, a Georgian Revival structure erected in 1924 for the First Unitarian Church.

If you click into the gallery, you will notice one photo that clearly shows the date “1844” carved into a stone at the corner of the building. This apparent discrepancy illustrates one of the first lessons I learned at Thursday Doors University:

The dates on churches often indicate the date the congregation was formed, not the date the building was completed.

1844, is the year that Hartford’s First Unitarian Society was formed. According to their records:

“…they had two previous churches/meetinghouses: the Unitarian Church of the Saviour (1846), which stood on Trumbull Street, and Unity Hall (1881) on Pratt Street.”

The Unitarians sold the building on Pearl Street in 1962 when they began their move to a new Meeting House in neighboring Bloomfield, CT. How this building became home to a Jewish congregation is an interesting and somewhat sad story. According to Connecticut History Illustrated’s website:

Congregation Ados Israel, Hartford’s oldest Orthodox Jewish congregation, was first organized by Eastern European Jews in 1872. In 1898 the Congregation built a synagogue on Market Street. This architecturally impressive building (see gallery) was demolished in 1963 to make way for Constitution Plaza. Ados Israel then moved to the former Unitarian building on Pearl Street. Ados Israel was Hartford’s last synagogue when it closed in 1986.”

As with many urban renewal projects in the 1950’s and 60’s, Constitution Plaza never delivered its many promised benefits. The following is from Wikipedia:

Constitution Plaza was the first substantial urban redevelopment project in Hartford and replaced a run-down, working class, ethnic neighborhood known as Front Street. Subject to periodic flooding (before the construction of riverfront dikes and Interstate 91) and in serious physical decline, this neighborhood was nostalgically known for its large Italian-American population and its eclectic collection of local restaurants, businesses and shops. The merit of its wholesale demolition to accommodate Constitution Plaza is still locally debated nearly five decades after the decision was made.”

Thursday Doors University’s Chancellor is Norm Frampton, and each week, he offers his students the opportunity to share photos, stories and artwork depicting interesting doors. If you want to participate, share a door or just look at some doors, visit TDU’s main campus. Check out Norm’s doors and look for the blue frog, which is your link to the rest of the doors.


  1. More great doors Dan! And I love the inclusion of the historic photos as well. I really love historic buildings and always explore downtown business and government areas when visiting new cities. It lends a sense of connectedness to our history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. The more I learn about what city planners did in the 60s, the more I wonder who was really on drugs back then. So little of the older, beautiful buildings in Hartford remain in the downtown area. I know I’ve walked/driven by this building hundreds of times, but I never knew anything about it. A benefit of these posts, for me.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. We have churches around here that have dates from when the congregation was formed in England, before leaving for America. It’s weird, because you see a date and you know that building couldn’t be that old. I guess the establishment of the congregation is more important than the building. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I see you suffer from the same affliction I do … researchitis. It can be quite paralyzing but you dodged it really well. This looks like a lovely area of the city – a pearl, indeed!

    I hope this building finds a kind and benevolent owner. It has a great face and deserves to have new life breathed into it. The view from the side shows that it’s a LOT bigger than I thought … and no windows along the sides would be a minus … but since it’s in an arts district, perfect it can find life as a theatre.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Joanne. The lack of windows and the haphazard paint make me think this building was sandwiched in in between two other buildings, but I wasn’t able to find any evidence of that. You’re right about the research, though, I had to force myself to stop digging. I do hope it finds a good owner. I think it’s good we are past the hey-day of construction in Hartford. Back in the 80s, someone would have bought it, torn it down and put up some soon to be underused glass and steel monstrosity.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “No, seriously, this is Dan at the keyboard.”

    That made me smile and made me think – it’s important work you do. Consolidating images and text for posterity. And for our enlightenment.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brevity…Ha! You’re trying to mess with us, right? Well, nonetheless, you did a great job with the post and photos. I love the theater building across the street, so I’ll be looking for that post. It’s always sad to see gorgeous old buildings torn down in favor of the modern architecture or plazas. The original building for Ados Israel was beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Brevity is not one of my strengths. Thanks for sticking with me anyway. It turns out that one of these buildings is associated with one on Ann St, so it really was going to get complicated. The original synagogue was beautiful. And, Constitution Plaza??? Nobody would use ‘beautiful’ to describe that place.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think even the Chancellor would agree that you did Thursday Doors University proud this week. Beautiful architecture, captivating history, gorgeous windows, and some mighty handsome doors. You live in not only a historic but a lovely part of our Country. Thank you for reporting from the beautiful state of Connecticut. :-) Now, get a cup of coffee, have a great work day, and a safe ride home.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Judy. It’s funny, I’ve been by this building hundreds of times, but I was drawn in by the doors. I couldn’t resist including the deep, rich wooden doors from across the street, even though I will probably use them again. Classes will be getting out early this week, so I’ll have a little extra time to unwind.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nicely done – you’ve earned your diploma with this one Dan ;-)
    Great way to give us the Abstract without having to read the entire research paper. I know that is not easy because I get caught going down the research rabbit hole quite often myself.
    Good point about the dates on churches; whenever I see one, that is the first question I ask myself: construction or congregation?
    I loved the Goodwin Square and Bin 228 shots in particular.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm. Maybe you should have alumni tee-shirts for sale :-)

      The doors on the Goodwin might show up again, but I couldn’t leave them in the draft folder. I was so taken with that entrance. This is an interesting area, in that there are multiple websites that refer to these buildings. It seems to be feast of famine. Sometimes, I can’t find anything. Sometimes, I don’t know where to draw the line.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Did we all smile at “brevity?” :-) “Urban renewal”, a phrase that brings with it the aroma of never having lived up to the promise, implied or otherwise. So many great old buildings are gone, although of course there are some that should never have been built in the first place. Lots of the latter now, I sometimes think. I like the City Arts Building and the street sign.


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Even my editor laughed at “brevity” in her mark-up. Although, she does remember Ann Uccello. The town I live in tore everything down for urban renewal and never built anything. Now, they are trying to “revive the downtown area.” I’m sure that area of Hartford had some buildings that needed to be torn down, but Constitution Plaze was one ugly complex. I’m glad you liked the street sign. I thought it was kind of whimsical.


  8. Ados Israel has a beautiful portico and window above it! The old vines or stains from vines even add to the beauty. I didn’t imagine the building being that long and was surprised by the side view image. No windows on the side! You’re probably right and there was a building there once. Which makes that front large window even more important. :)

    I hope someone who loves the old architecture buys it and gives it new life. It might make a neat house if one could add windows on the sides. :)

    Great history, and historic images this week.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I’m pretty sure you could add windows, but I’m not sure what you might end up looking at. It might make an interesting theater, but I’m not sure the city has a need for another. I do hope it lives to see another generation, or two.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I don’t know why but my fav photo is Goodwin Square. There is just a “feel” to it that pulls at me. Brevity? Really? You must be mixing you up with someone else. ;) Loved the history and loved the gallery. I always learn something here. Thanks, Dan! <3

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. I was going to leave the Goodwin Square photo until the next post, but I like that entrance too much. I guess no one is buying the brevity thing. In my defense, if I were to try to include the entire Ann St Historic District, I’d need 3 or 4 times this many words and photos. Worse than that, it gets complicated because building on different streets are related. The good news is that I may have to reuse the Goodwin Sq. photo :-)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. O-Kaaaay. I will just have to take your word for this matter that in fact you did display brevity. And it sure wouldn’t hurt to see the Goodwin Sq. Photo again. There really is just something about that building that intrigues me. Hmmmmmm …..

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thanks Amy. I’m not going to convince anyone. I really have been sucked in by the history in this neighborhood. There is something special about that building. They did a wonderful job creating that look.

          Liked by 1 person

  10. Nicely done! You really did your homework here! That Ados Israel is a beauty, fersure. Israel Synagogue and Goodwin Square, too. I love the character of this street, or junction, or area — and I appreciate the metaphor about how it’s as connected as painting trim.
    And those theatre signs! :)

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Love whenever I see visible pillars.As to your writing, good I don’t have any moulding in my house, because than you have to match the furniture.. The next step is invariable a nice floor. Then come the dishes, curtains, and whatever else..
    Now you made Norm the chancellor – poor guy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That (Uccello) is interesting. Bird is not an uncommon name. The Theater building had card in front of it the whole time I was there, up until I was ready to leave. Then I went back for a clear photo. I don’t often get that chance in Hartford.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I was thinking that it was earlier than 1986, so it was during the time the synagogue was in operation. Maybe it was a public service, or maybe they rented space to WU as a way to offset the cost of maintenance and upkeep.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. The City Art’s on Pearl and the Israel building, (synogogue?) were beautiful, Dan. I learned a new fact about the difference between the founding date of a congregation and the building date. It is strange to confuse these by putting the engraved date on a cornerstone of a building. How many people would assume this is the construction date?
    I like the large arched window with tiny panes! This was a very interesting and pretty block to feature. The mayor named Ann must have been pretty amazing to have her name placed upon this section. . . Look forward to more details about this block, as time passes. :)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin. Ann Uccello was mayor long before I arrived in Hartford. My eiff remembers her but I don’t. The area is very pretty and I hope they can continue to find ways to reuse the buildings instead of resorting to urban clear-cutting. I learned about the dates on churches when researching old churches and seeing dates from the early 1600s, which is generally earlier than the first settlements here. It’s when the congregations were formed in England, before escaping for the freedom to worship as they pleased.


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