Thursday Doors – CT Old State House

You enter the museum on the lower level. The spiral staircase in the opening is not accessible.

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.

From the State House website.

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.

92 thoughts on “Thursday Doors – CT Old State House

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    1. Thanks. It’s hard to know how much of the design is original, but I think the structural elements like the doors were kept as is. I know in some cases, the molding details were added back, based on what would have been used. In any case, I’m glad it’s still here, despite our legislature’s attempts to cut the funding for it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Cheryl. These date to a time when people took pride in their work, but also made practical decisions. Today’s “decorations” are just that, applied like jewelry, not a beautiful merging of form and function (like those shutters).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know! Unfortunately, it comes out of the “Legislative Office” budget (since it was their offices at one point). So they are literally taking money from themselves to maintain this. I think the committee who decides that budget, should hold there meetings here. But, they’d have to walk, no moving sidewalk in this building.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh Dan – you are in rare form this morning! Obviously the 2 week break primed you right up – “the famous Institut de Design de Porte” and nice to see the little blue frog finally has a name 😆

    These great old buildings somehow manage to survive in spite of the periodic neglect. I didn’t detect any sarcasm at all in your assessment of budget priorities. It’s only by examining the details that one really appreciates the workmanship – like those pocket shutters.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Joanne. I didn’t want to try to officially name the frog (Norm’s prerogative) but I figured since I’ve named a room full of his imaginary predecessors, I could go out on a limb for the frog.

      My sarcasm is, at least in part, driven by the fact that they closed this building over a year ago, just as I was about to tour the inside. I had several photos of the outside, and I was checking the hours. At the time, it was only open on Saturdays. Then they closed it for good.

      I hope this building will outlive the selfish crew we have seated across town at the Capitol.

      Like

  2. Love the pocket shutters and the paneled door jambs and the arched entry door. And the staircase. All of it. The whole building!! Thanks for a great tour.
    🔹 Ginger 🔹

    Liked by 2 people

  3. What a beautiful building this is! I do love the history you provide, Dan. Glad ‘they’ decided this one was worth the upkeep. You so have to wonder how people think the way they do…..

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lois. I’m glad you enjoy the history. I’m fascinated by it, and when I read that they were just going to shut the doors and let this place stand idle, I was so angry. They have no idea how fast buildings start to decay without heat and upkeep. Or worse, they do but they don’t care. I am very glad that it’s open.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed your pictures. Coming from the Atlanta area, I fully understand and appreciate old buildings and architecture. It saddens me that now that I am in the Midwest, people here do not seem to have that appreciation. A beautiful old courthouse with granite block on the outside, marvelous dome and other grand architectural textures around the building are not worth keeping. Off with the old and on with the new. So very sad. History has taught them nothing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. When you consider the work that went into these buildings, and the fact that most of it was done by hand and by eye, they should be preserved base don that fact alone. I’m sorry that they would tear down a stone courthouse. That’s sad.

      Like

  5. Good history like good old historical buildings does not come cheap. Good government is even harder to keep in good repair. It is even worse when it is closed down for rehabilitation. Don’t worry the new doors they put on might even open to admit their constituents… now I am going to get another cup of coffee and figure out how to work well oiled hinges into this discussion.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Well someone is in fine form after the break :-D
    I love finding out so much about my ancestors this way…gee who needs any of those DNA/Ancestry websites?
    Seriously beautiful building you’re showcasing this week. I’m glad to see they came to their senses and found the funding. When you slow down and pay closer attention to all the fine details you could spend hours admiring the craftsmanship in a place like this. Excellent choice coming back from 2 weeks off Dan.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Norm. I spent a good deal of time studying some of the details of the woodwork and molding. The woodwork is a mix of ornamental and practical, but the craftsmanship is meticulous throughout. It’s a very special place, and I was happy to have toured it just before the break.

      Two weeks was a nice break, but it did cause my mind to wander though your ancestors’ history.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I love the staircases and the chandelier? In the entryway. They are restoring our capital building in Cheyenne, but the Denver one is extremely beautiful. The mint there also has beautiful qualities. These types of buildings need to be maintained and preserved.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You outdid yourself with the elegant phrasing in this post. That bit about Alexandre and this “in their marble-floored-cherry-doored monument to self-indulgence” YES!
    That is a marvelous building for sure. I like door, door, and door — mostly because yellow and benches. Those are some sweet benches! Shutters, windows, and built in cabinet, too. Mighty fine share — I’m glad you got them out!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. It’s such a beautiful building, and the history inside those walls is remarkable. I couldn’t ignore how these knuckleheads have almost ruined this place.

      As for Alexandre, I had to welcome Norm back after the break.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a nice way to welcome Norm back! The Old State House is such a lovely building. I can understand why the legislature would rather spend, um, your money on a moving walkway, the cafeteria, and covered parking. After all, they are doing important work which is… what was it again?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha ha – yes, thanks!

      The most important work that they do is to set the budget. By law, it must be in place by June 30. Last year, they didn’t approve it until October 30 AND – when they did approve it, they set off fireworks in the park outside their offices! Good use of my money.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love those pocket shutters! And what a great collection of doors, all in one building! How DID they make such wide doors? Slabs from really big trees, or invisible joining of two or more narrow boards? Fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. The staircase is lovely! I also loved the little display cubby you happened upon, and the mouldings. Those are lovely! The pocket shutter doors are clever!

    The bright yellow room with white benches was cheery, and inviting. I’m glad they reinstated funding for the building it’s a jewel. Is there a Widow’s walk on the roof? I love that fencing up there.

    I loved your intro to Norm, and his family heritage. That was brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Deborah. I hope to follow this up with a non-door post about the details.

      It’s hard to imagine a legislative meeting room as being “cheer and inviting” but it really is.

      I had to include the staircase. It’s truly a work of art.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Because I didn’t remember if I commented on your Thurs. Door, I checked – and your reply here is not on my blog!
    Am wondering – don’t all wordpress blogs have a template that your reply to me automatically comes on my blog? (I know blogspot does not). Have you had this before?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post. I must tell you that you are really getting better at your pictures. I mean not that you were bad earlier, but you know the angles and the light and all that stuff. It is time for you to move to DSLR. Have you ever used a DSLR? If yes, share your experience. Maybe in a With a Beer post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have used a DSLR. I used one for several years. Maybe I’ll explain that to you the next time you join us at the bar. The bottom line is, they are too heavy. I had to give it up after I injured my shoulder. There are other reasons, but that’s the main one.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. So cool you found this display cubby while heading towards the men’s room! I love “peeking” down the hallway and into the nooks and crannies of large historical places like this majestic statehouse, Dan.
    Thank you for taking us along through the history and the beautiful views. Hugs, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was pleased they encouraged this great pastime of photography and how you shared yours with us. I’m certainly happier now that I gave my notice. I wrote on an earlier post about my new direction I’m heading. . . 🌞

        Liked by 1 person

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