Bits of Historic Hartford

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I had to make a few stops in Hartford yesterday. I got a haircut, I had breakfast (no pictures today) and I stopped at a tool store. I figured since I was going to be driving around the city, I’d check out some historic buildings. This time, I checked the National Registry of Historic Places before heading into Hartford. I snagged photos of several buildings, and I’ll be sharing these for a couple weeks, along with some photos from the NRHP Nomination form. Some of these buildings may have appeared here before, but these are all new photos in much better information. Today, I give you the Butler McCook Homestead

I have stared at this building for more years than I can remember. It stands across the intersection from me as I am trying to turn onto Main St. on my way to the Allegro Café to meet my best friend for breakfast. I never knew that this house is the only 18th-century home still remaining on Hartford’s Main Street. Much of what follows if from the NRHP Nomination form.

The Butler-Cook House was built in 1782 and was a typical house of the period with central hallway plan and two chimneys. It was two stories tall, had a cistern under the kitchen and a paved cellar under the main house. Added to it in the rear was an older ell (c. 1740), which was formerly a blacksmith’s shop, and which was converted into a kitchen when the main house was built.

Later nineteenth century additions include additional chimneys, dormer windows, a second story gable in the center of the facade, and a porch over the front door. The builder of the house, Dr. Daniel Butler, is believed to have kept his office in the northwest room. Another member of the family, John Butler McCook annexed his office to the homestead in 1895. This is a single story balustraded building located on the south side of the house which now serves as the office of the Antiquarian and Landmarks Society.

The gardens of the Butler-McCook house were designed by the Swiss landscape gardener Jacob Weidaman who also landscaped Bushnell and Retreat Park as well as many other homes in Connecticut. Among the memorabilia of the family is a watercolor wash drawing of the garden plan by Weideman.

In the late 1800s, Hartford was changing rapidly. Single family homes were no longer being built this close to the city center and the area around this home was being occupied by government institutions (Hartford is Connecticut’s capital city), museums and commercial shops and all varieties of businesses. These changes were observed by Miss Frances McCook and her brother Anson as they prepared to gift the house they grew up in and the gardens they had created to the city. The following statement was made by these two prominent Hartford citizens at the presentation:

“My sister and I like to think of the house and land, linked together as they have been for centuries, as a future historical park, a permanent landmark of the old Hartford, a Hartford that is fast disappearing. The homestead would be open to the public. It would show graphically how successive generations of an old Hartford family had actually lived for almost two centuries in the same abode, at the same hearth and under the same roof. After rambling through the house, visitors could include the garden in their tour.”

The homestead is open for tours by reservation only, and tours must be arranged seven days in advance. I do hope to tour the building at some point in the future. My pictures of the garden were taken from outside the fence.

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  1. So much history of renovations and additions behind this building, one would hardly guess.Perhaps where the entrance door is so modest looking.
    I like the annexed office with the balustrade balcony. Actually I like the balcony alone :)
    And I see the big tree at the front, the one from 1971, is gone.
    Lovely pics, and the old and new compilation, as always :)

    Thanks for the Thursday Doors tip :) Appreciate it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a handsome building, and what an act of faith! It is almost impossible to imagine generations of one family living in the same house for two centuries, let alone having such faith in the future and in the community. I hope that, if you do get the tour some day, you will show us more!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. It’s hard imagining living in the same city for one generation. I was impressed by their faith in the community, that it would preserve the house and garden. There’s a little more to share about this location (tune in next week) and I do hope to be able to arrange a tour.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Dan – it’ll be fascinating to see the interiors … and it’s great it’s a museum and the garden be looked around. It’s a delightful looking home and I’m glad it’s retained for ‘us’ today. Reminds me of one I saw in Victoria, BC … so interesting to see life back then – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this, Hilary. I visited Victoria a couple of times when I lived in Seattle (78-81). There are lovely homes and gardens there. I, too, am happy they gifted this homestead to the city and that it’s been preserved. I do hope to arrange a tour later this season.


  4. Oh, yes, I like this house, the garden, and your photos. It was a glorious day. This combination of yellow and green pleases my eye. And thanks for telling me that Hartford is the capital of Connecticut. :D I’m afraid I’d have no idea if someone asked.

    My post today is full of door and arch gifts by my family members. They had to wait almost a year to have their moment. I’m most grateful to them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A lot of folks in the US assume everyone around the world knows our state abbreviations, locations and major cities (meanwhile, we know almost nothing about Europe). I like to remind people that Connecticut is in New England – which is in the northeast, and a little bit about the cities I visit. I’m glad you liked that. This house is very special, and I a glad it has been preserved.

      Your family os very good to you :-)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautiful home. Exceptional maintenance. Additions blend in perfectly. All those family members enjoying that home generation after generation. Hats off to the siblings who gifted this treasure to the city having faith it would be preserved for years to come……maybe forever!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am so glad you liked this, Ginger. It really does look like it would have been a great place to grow up and to work. I can imagine living generations on top of each other in one place. We started out in an apartment building my grandmother owned and my father’s sister lived there, too. I’m glad they gifted this place to the city, and I’m so glad the city has found a way to make it work. I hope you a having a nice week.


  6. If I subtract the 19th century additions from the photos, I think I see a very classic style, something closer to a modern design than the more ornate elements of one and a half centuries ago. Nice neighbourhood too.

    This week I thought I would do something different: show businesses which have their doors open, only these are businesses done from vans and not from brick and mortar premises.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I see these beautiful gardens (and yes the doors too) I can’t help but think about the people who walked through them 100 years ago. Were they enjoying the heady scent of the flowers or the spectacular beauty right before their eyes. I can see small children hand-in-hand, racing between the flowerbeds laughing with wild abandon. I wonder what it was like…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First of all, I have to say how very gracious and helpful of you to tip off those who post doors on how to have more readers check them out by providing a bit more description in their post title. So helpful, Dan.
    This house is a beauty. And the gardens…I blame the heat/humidity for keeping me indoors, but I really need to get outside and try to make my yard look even a fraction like this one. Not much yard there in the front; they saved it all for the backyard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Lois. Some people put a lot of effort into their posts and if I can help them get a few more views, it would make me happy. I find that some people really like working from the recap page.

      Don’t be too hard on yourself about your garden – these guys had several people across multiple generations to get them in shape,

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I love this house and it’s history. We have a lot of historic homes in Louisiana too but sadly most are former plantations. I am amazed to see how we lived so primitively merely a few hundred years ago and how rapidly, with the introduction a some key inventions, civilization progressed, at least in practical nature. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Have heard of Hartford, and it does not disappoint. Like the ambience. My own computer is in the shop (a good kind), so I;ll be back later. But there is a Thurs. post today:) Jeshie

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A good, sturdy house. Sounds like it would give and awesome tour with the grounds and all. It seems the owners wishes are still been granted. Good.
    Am sure some developer is having dreams for it.
    Nice post.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I’m just glad that they have been maintaining the house and the garden.

      Thank you for bringing us some beautiful stone buildings and lovely doors.


  12. Thank goodness many of these beautiful old homes are restored and open for viewing. I can imagine the big change in Hartford when commercial properties were being built, and not single family homes.

    Liked by 1 person

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