Last week, we visited the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut. There were a lot of doors, but other than their design and the designs of the houses to which they were attached, I didn’t know much about them. As I was sorting through my photos from that walk, I found several buildings (doors) for which I was able to find some information to share.
Note: the some descriptions are from Historic Buildings of CT, while others are from a combination of that website, the National Registry of Historic Buildings (NRHB) and the book Victorian Hartford Revisited. The pictures, unless indicated are mine.
852 Asylum Avenue – Built around 1875, the George A. Bolles House is located on Asylum Avenue in Hartford and is an excellent example of the elaborate and creative homes built in the Asylum Hill neighborhood in the nineteenth century. The house originally had a different front porch, as well as a side porch, which has since been removed.
Asylum Hill Congregational Church – was constructed in 1865 of Portland brownstone in the Gothic style of an English parish church. Its tall spire, 227 feet high, and elaborate door and window moldings add much to its character. Stained glass windows by Charles J. Connick enhance the interior. A later chapel addition to the east is in the same style.
Asylum Hill Baptist Church – One block west, of the Congregational Church, is the Asylum Hill Baptist Church. Originally built in 1872, the church was altered and enlarged in 1869, and in 1931 was severely damaged by fire and rebuilt in a Collegiate Gothic idiom that does not resemble the original.
Between those two churches is the Capewell House. George J. Capewell (1843-1919) invented an automatic process to make horse nails. In 1881 he started the Capewell Horse Nail Company in Hartford. His residence in the city was an Italianate-style house at 903 Asylum Avenue, built in 1870. The house was slightly over 8,000 square feet (~745 square meters) and had 11 bedrooms. It last sold in 2019 for $560,000.
The house, long owned by the Holcombe family, was later converted to apartments. Some of you might remember an earlier mention of George Capewell in a post this past summer featuring the Atlantic Screw Works in Hartford’s south end.
West Middle School – is on the south side of Asylum Avenue. The present Georgian Revival building of 1930 replaces an earlier building on the same site that was executed in High Victorian Gothic style. According to the Hartford Public Library:
The original West Middle School building was designed by Richard Mitchell UpJohn (1827-1903), and stood in back of the present West Middle School building that faces Asylum Avenue. UpJohn’s school building was built of brick and brownstone in the high Victorian style, with “vivid polychromy”, considered by architectural historians as “one of the best built during Asylum Hill’s period of growth and greatest prestige.” It stood three stories high and had sixteen rooms. The cost of the land and the building was $154,165. It was completed and first occupied in 1873. In 1886 the original building was added onto at a cost of $15,000. The school could accommodate 50 pupils in each room. A kindergarten was opened in the school in 1886. Major Thomas Smith served as the military instructor of the school’s Companies A and B, and cadets drilled for one hour each week after school. The were some 80 cadets in the program.
Personally, I like the original building much better.
NRHB – Across from the Baptist Church are two older houses, both solidly Italianate. 837-839, a double house, has heavy dripstones over the short, round-headed windows of the third floor, close under the roof overhang.
847 Asylum Avenue is a glorious red brick Italianate with two towers, one octagonal, one square, each with a roof rising to a point on which rests a copper finial. The house has handsome brownstone window arches and brownstone for the wall of the first floor of the octagonal tower. A long porch of turned and sawn wood stretches across its front.
As I was trying to get a photo of the house at 847, a man asked me if I was taking pictures of the house for any particular reason. He thought perhaps it was for sale. I explained Thursday Doors to the man and a friend who joined him from the house at 839. We talked a little bit about the house. He said that if not for restrictions due to the pandemic, he would offer to let me inside. The building has been made into apartments, but he says much of the original details remain. We all remarked that it was simply good to be talking to strangers.
Thursday Doors is a weekly blogfest organized and championed by Norm Frampton. If you like doors, and especially if you have doors to share, you will want to visit Norm’s blog up in Canada. Norm always has wonderful doors on display, and you can add a link to your doors. You can also check out the other doors that have been put on display today.