Thursday Doors – Goodwin Hotel

I hope Joey likes it.

This post was originally planned for late September. I moved it up in the rotation for two reasons. One, my friend Kate posted a story (I lost the link but Kate put it in a comment) about how they are tearing a historic building down in Portland, OR in order to replace it with a common steel and glass high-rise. The story reminded me of the story of this beautiful piece of Hartford’s past. The second reason can wait until the end.

Goodwin Square is part of my meandering study of the Ann Uccello district in Hartford. When I first arrived in Hartford, the Goodwin Apartment building was still standing, but it was in deep trouble. By the mid-1980s, there was talk of tearing it down so the next “highest” building could be built. Local opposition fought hard against losing this beautiful structure, but the best deal they could cut was to preserve it as part of a much larger project.

The Goodwin was built in 1881 as an apartment building. The Building was expanded in 1891 to Ann Street and again in 1900 to Pearl Street. Among the people who called the Goodwin home was J.P. Morgan (who was born in Hartford) but only while visiting from New York.

In 1985, developers gutted the apartment building. The outer walls, with their striking Queen Anne facade decorated with ornamental terra cotta, were worked into the Goodwin Square office tower. When completed in 1989, Goodwin Square was the third tallest building in Hartford and the Goodwin Hotel opened in what had been the apartment building.

Unfortunately, the office tower was the product of overly-ambitious developers and ultimately proved to be a bad investment. The complex sold for over $40 million in 2004 but went into foreclosure in 2013. The Goodwin Hotel closed in 2008.

Goodwin Square was purchased in an auction in 2015, for a little over $17 million. The new owners have plans to revitalize the office tower, but have not revealed any details. There are no current plans to revive the hotel. I have been reading lately how other historic buildings in the are being turned into apartments. Maybe there’s hope that the Goodwin will return to its roots.

If you’re not familiar with Thursday Doors, it’s a weekly blogfest brought to us from Norm Frampton up in Canada. Norm is taking a break, and he has transferred the mantle of doorthority to Joey this week. She’s up to the task, she’s a trooper. If you want to join the fun, or if you just want to see a world, that’s right, world full of doors, hike yourself over to Joey’s place in Indianapolis. Once there, check out Joey’s doors. Then look for the blue frog. Yes, Norm sent the frog to Indianapolis, too. Click that tadpole and prepare to be amazed.

The featured photo today is offered in honor of Joey’s service to the cause of doors. If you follow Joey, or if you’ve seen her comments, you know that she likes light fixtures. That’s the other reason I moved this post up a couple of weeks.

Thanks for viewing my doors, and if Norm is checking in, enjoy your vacation big guy. Rest easy, Joey’s got this.


  1. Thank you for your support, Dan! I am honored you shared this special post with fabulous light fixtures! Those are magnificent, and I noticed them right away. With Spires! Ooh!
    Like you, I love the narrow door. Also rather fond of the first picture, the reddish double doors with the fat transom. Again, light fixtures. Great doors, gorgeous brick. Really stands out. Lends an old-world feeling.
    It’s unfortunate so many beautiful buildings have this sort of instability in their lifelines. I’m glad you shared this one :)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Joey and thanks for hosting this week. The good news is that they didn’t tear this beautiful building down. The terra-cotta details could never be replaced. They don’t build like that no more.

      As soon as I saw the light fixtures, I said “get a nice shot for Joey!” They really are magnificent. Given the Goodwin’s proximity to the HELCO power plant (1 block over), they were probably among the first electric lamps in the city.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Reading this one reminded me of my post on the Illinois Building, and for both of these places, at least there’s hope.
        Much appreciated, although, it is my pleasure to host :)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Handsome doors, gorgeous light fixtures, and wonderful architecture. I even love the color of the brick work. :-) They recently tore down a gorgeous church, St. Charles, which was built to serve the French community working in the mills. Now, we have a four story box of apartments.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Judy. It’s a shame when they tear down history and replace it with blah. Goodwin Sq isn’t the best marriage, but they saved the best part of the building. I’d love to see it reborn as apartments. The brick work is amazing. I had so many pictures of details, it was hard to choose.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. HGTV puts on more and more shows to explain restoration of historical building – not replacement buildings!! What does it take to get this country to appreciate and learn from history, to admire that artistic accomplishment in the detail of architecture?! Great doors – and windows too for that matter!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. There is a secret story to many of these old building. In the past, most furnaces were fired by coal and, especially in the downtown neighborhoods, soot turned all the buildings coal black. In the 70’s and 80’s there was a movement to clean up these old structures and return the facades to their original beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good point! I remember many such efforts in Pittsburgh, some only recently. I’m glad these guys incorporated the original building into the larger commercial space. If nothing else, it kinda means they’re stuck with it, which is good for Hartford.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful doors, Dan–and such a great building. You are so right, they don’t build them like this anymore. What is it with people wanting to tear down and build. Do they not realize what they have in the first place??

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lois. I think the rush to tear down is that it’s cheaper. They don’t consider what they’re destroying, only focused on what they can build. Very few architects and developers seem to want to be known for preserving history. They want to stamp their style on the city and move on. It’s very sad sometimes.


  6. The Goodwin is a beautiful building. Love the color and details of the façade. I hope the new owners can revitalize the entire structure and make something good happen for the City of Hartford. It is always a shame when buildings like this are replaced with structures that have no character. I tried to pick out a favorite door photo, but they are all equally awesome. Nice post today, Dan.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. I had read an article earlier this year that said the hotel was reopening in May, but I didn’t see any signs of life. Still, it’s a nice address and I think they right owner could make it work. I hope they get it right.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Sent the link to Portland’s building separately for the moderator! Gorgeous building, and next month when we draw Hartford as a group I will steal some of these amazing pics — you’ve outdone yourself! If the place is transformed into apartments it is more likely to survive…

    I am very bad about the development in Portland because it is so brutal and thoughtless — they not only are tearing down whole neighborhoods, but there is no thinking to blend the cityscape so that our historic Portland (such a beautiful city) is saved. Further, the streets are narrow, and they’ve not widened them, so that there are going to be streets with no light, and people will walk next to these towers… treeless streets, dark, gloomy. Parts look like the housing in Russia in the 50’s and 60’s. I walk by them and hope they can’t fill them to drive the developers away, but it doesn’t. Finally, the city is becoming, as has been done in parts of London, a city of apartments rented to wealthy people from other places who don’t live here… Not good.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s so sad. I remember Portland as being a city that had higher aspirations, back in the late 70s when Seattle was starting its growth spurt. The Seattle papers used to “make fun” of Portland, but I always liked the downtown area when I visited.


  8. It would be a shame for this beautiful building to be demolished. I live in a small town with a town square. The older, beautiful buildings, except for a couple, have been torn down and replaced with one story modern buildings. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Out town, (10 miles north of Hartford) destroyed the historic downtown in the 60s, and has never recovered. I’m glad Hartford got the message before the whole city was wiped out by greedy developers.


  9. Dan, what a beautiful building (and lamps)! I’m happy to read that it was saved in whatever form. I think apartments are often a good way to go, but sometimes a business comes in and saves the day. My favorite example of this is the Anthropologie store in Rittenhouse square, Philadelphia. It was actually someone’s home and now it’s a stunning store.


    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a beautiful building! I love that many paned windowed door, the narrow door, the light fixtures, and oh, the brick!! It would be really neat if it returned to its roots and became apartments again with businesses on the first floor perhaps?

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Beautiful capture (the one above the sketch). I especially like the dormers, as well as the color -stately! Since in Holland they made empty Gothic style churches as storage places of factories, the windows were broken, etc. etc. So, I don’t mind rich people’s apartments, as long as the historic building is being kept up.
    Off the subject: your font looks different – did you change it (?), but maybe it’s because I have another computer…

    Liked by 1 person

    • The facade is terracotta. I thinks that’s what gives it that lighter appearance and let them create some of the interesting details and have them match so well. Someone had an eye for beauty back then.


  12. Start, join, or divert the discussion. Doors are diversion points. They take us into to something else. They open a path that is otherwise closed. An unknown time, a special place, another conversation. One we were not having until we passed that door. Pardon the addendum to the Thursday Doors discussion prompt. Now I feel it is time to put aside the coffee and open the door to the fridge. Despite the early hour it is time to bring out the philosophy sauce. Cogitation fluid. Happily and wisely this too requires moderation….

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Timely and great post of this historical site. I think you’re making Joey’s guest hosting tasks very easy with this beautiful post and serving up a reminder that old is not outdated or forgotten and brings back good memories of what was once can still be relevant today. I hope you make the new owners and developers aware of this post of the Goodwin Square and Hotel. Ironically, the name, “Goodwin”, can be a Good Win for the community if they think this though with open eyes and minds.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I read the the hotel was reopening. I haven’t seen anything about it but it looks like they’re moving in the right direction.

      Joey did a great job. It was a pleasure to support her effort

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Would have been a shame to demolish this splendor to build high-end condos or offices. It would be terrific to see the Goodwin reopen as a hotel. There is a chance since many people tend to want a come back to original American construction. Old doesn’s always mean it has to stay but in this case it was a great decision. As a foreign-born I am always noticing American architecture.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I love the door in the first photo. It has everything a grand entrance should have, including the light fixtures, block pillars, decorative styling around the doorway.
    I know it’s cold comfort to some people, but I’m happy when a developer maintains the bones of a heritage building as part of a new structure. It’s so much better than the alternative … although I do appreciate they likely never do it without coercion.
    I hope this one gets a 3rd chance at a new life.

    Liked by 1 person

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