Thursday Doors – Melancholy Door

Gardener Hall 2017

When I was researching the doors in the Ann Uccello neighborhood of Hartford, I stumbled onto an archive of Connecticut photos, maintained by the University of Connecticut Library system.

There I discovered a door that I’ve driven by for almost 35 years. The door is old and the door is beautiful. It’s the door to the administration building of the Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center – North Campus. According to Connecticut’s Department of Children & Families website:

“The Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center- North Campus, (formally the Connecticut Children’s Place), will serve as a Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility effective December 1, 2013, providing treatment to adolescent males between the ages of 13 and 17 with complex psychiatric needs. The program is designed to be the bridge from hospital to home and community or as a diversionary placement to avoid the need for a hospital stay.”

Of course, I’m not sure when the website was last updated, which might be important because this facility has served several functions and it has operated under a number of different names.

As recently as 1997, the facility was called The State Receiving Home, but it was apparently always in the business of providing shelter and education to abused and neglected children from all over the state. In 1997, the name was changed to The Connecticut Children’s Place, to better reflect the institution’s mission.

The facility has been around since the mid-1800s. Before the State came to own it, the Receiving Home was a Swedish orphanage and working farm. One website says:

Parents who could not afford to raise their children sent them to East Windsor.”

The State of Connecticut took over in 1883 and used the facility to house children who were truant or who had run away from home.

It’s sad to know that we still need facilities like this in 2017, but as times have changed, the mission of the facility has evolved and adapted. The few interviews with administrators and staff members that I read point to a caring facility suffering under tight budgets and the kind of bureaucracy that required the State Legislature’s approval of the various name changes.

The gallery includes a few photos of the grounds, to give you a sense of scale. This is not the kind of facility most of us will come in contact with in our lives, but I thought it was important to remember that places like this exist. As politicians in the United States debate healthcare and budget deficits and try to find a way to save money at every turn, I hope they remember that there are probably hundreds of facilities like this one that need the kind of support only a government can provide.

This post is part of Norm Frampton’s famous Thursday Doors series. If you want to join us, all you need is a door. If you don’t have a door, you can still join us, there are lots of doors to see. Head on over to Norm’s place – check out his doors – look for the blue frog, he’s your guide to the list of doors from all over the world. Thanks for being here.

73 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – Melancholy Door

Add yours

  1. Sobering but relevant door, Dan. One of my grandchildren has a very good friend who has needed a facility like this in the past, and is in fact in residence at one right now. Unless you know someone with psychiatric challenges, mental insurance benefits probably don’t mean a lot. When you do know someone, you realize to what great lengths families go to at their own expense to try and find solutions for their loved ones.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for your comment, Judy. My mother worked in a state-run mental hospital for years. She wasn’t involved in patient care, but we learned a lot about what goes on and se saw the sadness that resulted from numerous budget cuts and grand ideas that failed. Mental benefits in healthcare are sorely lacking, and that truly is sad,

      Like

    1. You’re so right Cheryl. The really sad thing is that, for some of these kids, this is a much better environment. When they also had girls here, one was asked about the food. She said: “It’s not that good, but at least I’m not starving.” That is sad on so many levels.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It is a beautiful building, especially with the flowering trees at this time of year. I’m curious about the fenced enclosure on the roof. I can think of a few possible reasons for its existence and all of them would be odd for this old building.
    Like Dweezer said, there would be a lot of sad energy contained inside. The history of these types of facilities is rarely happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The fenced area might be a Widow’s Walk. They were common on buildings around this part of CT, especially. The ones along the river. I would guess that you can see the CT river from that part of the roof. Thanks for the comment, Joanne.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. All of my pictures are from well before 9:00am on Sunday, John. This is one of those places that I wouldn’t share photos with people in them. The building is beautiful, but the story is much more important. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gardener’s Hall is a beautiful building and I’m glad it has survived to provide a needed service for this population. My heart breaks when federal and state funds are cut from programs like this in order to balance the budget. What a better country we would have if government and its politicians truly focused on the needs of its people. Thanks for sharing these doors and their history, Dan.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Mary. I thinks a lot of politicians drive by these places like I was doing, maybe without even thinking “I wonder what goes on in there?” I think if they took the time to listen to one story, or talk to one caregiver, they would have a hard time cutting the budget.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a beautiful building and such a gorgeous door. Yes it is sad indeed that places like this are needed but that isn’t going to change any time soon. Because of that it’s a darn good thing that these places do exist and are staffed by good people who care about others. Let’s just hope they get the funding they need to keep helping those who need it most.
    Great post Dan :-)

    Like

  5. It’s a beautiful residence/facility. I hope they long get the funding they need to care for the children, and maintain the building. I love the widow walk (I think that’s what it is called) on the roof, and the portico with columns. White trim and red brick…classic good looks and style!

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Don’t apologize. I don’t expect people to read other comments. I’m so happy to get comments, I’d gladly repeat myself all day. Widow’s Walks tend to result in leaks. When I had my cabinet shop, I did some serious repairs to a historic home that had one. I would like the higher view, though.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. “As politicians in the United States debate healthcare and budget deficits and try to find a way to save money at every turn, I hope they remember that there are probably hundreds of facilities like this one that need the kind of support only a government can provide.”
    Yes, Dan, you’re so right. As much as we would like residences as Albert J. Solnit Children’s Center to disappear it’s unrealistic. People need them for support, hopefully for only a moment in their lives. Like you, I shiver realizing that the fate of so many of us (particularly the most vulnerable) is now between the hands of people who seem to have forgotten the noun “compassion.”
    The photos you took remain gorgeous, despite the seriousness and sadness of the topic. Including the doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Evelyne. We have made cuts in this area so many times since I was kid. A lot of the people who could benefit from these kinds of places, will never receive that care or attention. Sadly some will end up in prison, which we never seem to run out of funding for.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Gardener Hall has a beautiful entrance. The trees add to the charm. The curve of the pink tree is lovely.
    My grandparents grew up as wards in the Masonic Home in the late 20’s and early 30’s. Like a lot of the others there at that time, my grandfather wasn’t actually an orphan.
    “I hope they remember that there are probably hundreds of facilities like this one that need the kind of support only a government can provide.” Yessir, you said it. Title is perfect, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Joey. It’s interesting that, in this small sample, we have a connection. I grew up with a few kids who had spent time in a “reform school” – My dad hired them as pin boys in the bowling alley he managed. This probably is the best time of the year to get the photos.

      Like

  8. That one bottom left door is beautiful! It’s a worthy attempt to avoid psychiatric hospitalization for kids/teens! Since the president is a grand father, my sense is he will not knowingly cut on healthcare for children and teens.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Thanks for opening the door to remind us some populations are lost behind closed doors. The proposed tax cuts will send more money to the wealthy who do not need more money instead of trying to improve the lives of the unfortunates; or better yet, lets plan to use the $62B for the wall for better projects like these that could make life better for these youngsters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment. I don’t claim to understand all the problems, and I certainly don’t have answers, but these are people we can’t afford to ignore. We drive by these places without thinking about the stories behind them. The decision makers don’t even drive by. They aren’t even driven by. And yet they spend time figuring out who to name the facility after.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Gorgeous building with such an important purpose, Dan! The doors are beautiful in their wooden panels and window shapes. I liked the pretty flowering trees!
    We have a children’s home and a juvenile delinquent transition location. The children’s home has a play area but not overnight accommodations. Children go there with the intention to play, snack and wait for foster care “immediate” (as quickly as possible but longer than just an office stay) placement. I worry still about these two places, as well as mental health facilities, students and young female adults seeking gynecological private locations and the fact elderly may not have pre-existing conditions included in the new medical program. We have heard work companies are going to upcharge us, possibly too.
    Last but not least nor about doors~ PBS is sending out requests to have financial assistance. Did you know they had their budget cut from federal fundings? My television guide included Wolf Hall, Sesame Street, public concerts, regular programs and one of my favorite historical series, “Call the Midwife” being victims of funding cuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. These are the budget cuts that bother me the most, Robin. The funding for these programs is such a tiny percentage of our budgets, but the programs do so much good. I shake my head and wonder..,

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you ever so much for this supportive comment. Someday, I will take a photo for our door’s of the juvenile transition building. They also hold teen programs for troubled youths there. . .

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Those functions are so very important. Politicians can’t understand because they are so far removed from this circumstances, thanks to salary and benefits we pay for and they will never consider cutting.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. So true! I have been pleased at John Kasich saying he is very concerned for the Ohio constituents who are very high in numbers who will most likely have to fall between cracks or pay high premiums. Felicia as a server and beginning real estate agent found a reasonable policy on Obamacare, as did freelance artist, brother Randy. It hits home.
            I will send off my pitiful contribution to PBS but wish Downton Abbey were still on, perhaps the ones who loved it may still support the service.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Have you watched the new show? I think it’s about maids or service workers. Little contributions help. I feel bad for the people who will lose if this moves forward. I don’t like a government that lacks compassion.

              Liked by 1 person

            2. I haven’t but may try to find out what it’s called, Dan. Last year there was a great series about an elderly couple and it was set in Halifax. I also liked the PBS “Sherlock,” with Benedict Cumberbatch.

              Liked by 1 person

            3. Oh, I have watched this! It is a civil war period show with a hospital setting. It has two nurses from North and South side of the conflict.
              The main male character was in the lead on “How I Met Your Mother.” It is nice to see him being serious. Glad you gave me the title. I didn’t recognize the description. Thank you! Another reason to keep PBS.

              Like

  11. The door is lovely. And learning about those it welcomed over the years is heart-touching. I paid for my last two years of college at a state training school, which as recently as a few years before I worked there had a metal arch over its entryway reading, “Home of the Mentally Retarded.” Except for its former name, it was a warm, caring place where residents of all ages who had the mentality of children were cared for and taught to work at tasks they could do successfully — gardening to kitchen help to child care. I know the good these places, which are now threatened fiscally, do in our world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My mom worked in a hospital like that. She was a switchboard operator. I worked there one summer, on the farm. You’re right about the good that those places do. Or did, in this case, it was closed and has since been torn down.

      Like

Add your thoughts. Start or join the discussion. Sadly, links require moderation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: