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.