It’s Thursday, right? I mean, it’s a Normal Thursday, right? Norm is back, the gang’s all here and it’s time to share some doors. Phew. The break felt good, but I’ve been itching to share these doors. These are from the Connecticut Old State House, and I took them the week before the break. They have been burning a hole in my doors folder.
Some of you may remember this building, although I’ve never shared it here. I did share the doors of the Connecticut Building on the Big-E fairgrounds, which is a scale replica of this building. But today I have the real thing, and, I am lucky to have been able to snag some photos.
A couple of years ago, in a deranged effort to save money, the CT Legislature, convened at the time in their marble-floored-cherry-doored monument to self-indulgence, decided to cut funding for maintenance and operation of the Old State House. The money they saved was probably less than the cost of the 200-yard “people mover” moving sidewalk that carries these elected officials between their office and the capitol through a tunnel (so the poor dears don’t get wet). Meanwhile, if the Old State House roof leaks on the artwork, so be it.
Last year, funding was restored when someone pointed out that the artwork would have to be moved, lest it suffer irreparable damage.
The Old State House was abandoned in 1915, and sat dormant until 1918 when a major restoration project was begun. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in the mid-1960s, although that distinction hasn’t kept it from being nearly abandoned on several occasions. The maintenance of this building falls to the Legislature and is funded out of their budget. So, it’s competing annually with that moving walkway, the subsidized cafeteria, the covered parking and the other critical bits of grease and goo that keep the machinery of inefficient government moving…as it were.
Enjoy a couple of excerpts from the NRHP nomination form:
“Following the authorization by the General Assembly in May 1792 for the construction of a new State House for Connecticut, Charles Bulfinch designed the structure standing in Main Street which was built between 1793 and 1796 Important exterior changes were made in 1815 and 1825-1827, but few others have been since that time. Very extensive interior changes were made between 1879 when the building became the Hartford City Hall and 1918 when a restoration program was begun.”
“The three-story block and stone, with a low-hipped slate roof. The twenty-foot-high ground level is articulated through the use of Middletown (Connecticut)sandstone, and through the arcuate theme which begins in the pavilion but continues in the round-arch window surrounds. Round windows occur in the center of the porticoed east facade creating a dramatic lighting effect in the east end of the upper part of the stair hall. Otherwise, all windows are rectilinear, the square ones in the third floor adding extra light to the Senate and House chambers from the upper story.”
“The room with the most original woodwork remaining is the Senate Chamber on the upper floor. The walls are decorated by fluted pilasters representing a combination of Ionic and Corinthian orders supporting the cornice and gallery-balustrade. These capitals were originally uncarved but were worked this way during the 1918-1920 restoration. This finest of the rooms in the Old State House also has two original fireplaces, while the over-mantels are reconstructions.”
Although not documented in the NRHP nomination form, it was widely believed that noted architect, Charles Bulfinch consulted with the Canadian door designer, and founder of the famous Institut de Design de Porte (Institute of Door Design) Alexandre Frampton. These many generations later, Norm Frampton, a direct descendant of Alexandre runs the popular Thursday Doors bloghop. To participate or to view the doors, visit Norm’s page. Look at Norm’s doors then search for Frobert, the blue frog. He will let you into the gallery.
I have many more pictures to share from my tour of the Old State House, but today I am focusing on doors and windows.