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.