Family Tower – Public School

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Welcome back to Thursday Doors. I have been on the road for the past eight days, having returned to Hartford yesterday afternoon from visiting family in Iowa. I am also figuratively returning to Hartford this week. I took these photos the night our daughter Faith and I attended a ballgame in the city. The buildings in the gallery are located in the block immediately north of the ballpark.

The first building is the Barnard Brown School building, which is now home to Capital Prep Magnet School. I would spend some time talking about this, but the sources I found offer contradictory reports and, to be honest, I’m not up for sorting through controversy. Instead, I’m going to focus on the building and the two people it’s named after. I will add that the Hartford Public High School system is the second oldest public high school system in the United States. Hartford High was founded by Rev. Thomas Hooker in 1657.

Henry Barnard (1811-1900) (according partially to Wikipedia) was one of the great pioneers in American education. He was a reformer of public schools in Connecticut and Rhode Island. He was principal of the first State Normal School of Connecticut in New Britain, (now known as Central Connecticut State University). He served in a number of education positions in Connecticut and Rhode Island and he was the first United States Commissioner of Education (1867-1870). He believed that all schools should be “good enough for the richest, and affordable by the poorest.”

Flavius A. Brown was born in 1806. He came to Hartford as a “teacher of writing” and in 1868 was the chairman of the committee to decide what new buildings were needed to accommodate the growing number of students in the city. Note: for the authors out there, by “writing” we mean penmanship.

Just north of the Barnard Brown School building, is Keney Tower. According to, yes, Wikipedia,

The tower stands near the center of the roughly square park. Its base is 30 feet (9.1 m) square, and it rises to a height of 130 feet (40 m). It is built out of ashlar-cut red sandstone quarried in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. Its verticality is heightened by corner buttresses, and pinnacles that rise above its roof to finial crosses. There are clock faces on all four sides, above which are lancet-arched louvers around the chamber housing chiming bells that sound every quarter hour.

If you’re a fan of engineering, you will enjoy this article, about how a group of University of Connecticut engineering students, working with the City of Hartford and the group The Friends of Keney Park rejuvenated the clock at the top of the tower after it stopped working four years ago.

Behind Keney Clock Tower Park is the Church of the Sacred Heart. Of course, I couldn’t resist.

Again, welcome back to Thursday Doors. Enjoy the doors in the gallery and please, look at the doors of the other participants.

If you are in a hurry and don’t wish to scroll through the comments, click to Jump to the comment form.


  1. That’s an interesting building. Mid-to-late 19th century is what I gather from your post, but the windows are much more modern clearly. Also, some of the ironwork seems to be more like early 20th century. Of course, since the future is unevenly distributed, so it could have been earlier in those parts. Thanks for the link. That was an interesting story. It reminded me of a story I’d pieced together about a public clock in Jodhpur.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad you liked this. You are correct on the dates. I suspect the windows were replaced in the 1970s in our crush to conserve energy. The gates maybe even later. The area is a rough part of town, and I’m guessing they were added to protect the building from vandalism.

      I enjoyed your journey down the road.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow. These are serious doors and serious buildings. That school looks so imposing, as it probably was meant to be. I’m trying to imagine being a teacher of penmanship; I grant that handwriting was more important back then, but I think that would have to be eternally tedious. Indeed a building should be named for him. I love those gates! Thanks for the history!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. The clock tower is quite a piece of work as is the Church of the Sacred Heart. I am surprised, however, with all those stairs at the entrance of the church there is no provision for ‘handicap accessible’. Perhaps there’s a special entrance on the side. Just wondering out loud.

    I can’t help but wonder what Flavius A. Brown would think about penmanship today!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have to check my photos, Ginger. I thought I saw a ramp on the other side of the church, perhaps in the back. Flavius would not be impressed with my handwriting, that’s for sure. But at least I can tell time on an analog clock ;-)


    • Welcome home to us both, Manja. I’m glad you like these (and I’m glad I scheduled this post before I left). I can’t imagine having so many churches in one city, but you certainly picked a winner.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t find enough information, but the gate around the park may not be as old as the tower. This has become a rough neighborhood over time, so the gate around the park and the school my have been added in the 1960-70 time frame.

      I love the doors and entrances you shared today!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The gate to the clock tower is beautiful. I love metal work, and this is so pretty. Penmanship… that paper with the little dotted line for lower case and so much space for upper case. I don’t think anyone in my family has what you would call ‘great penmanship.’ Thank goodness for computer generated signatures–my writing never looked so good!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Oh, dem arches! That school reminds me of the older schools in Louisville, including my old junior high school. They’re much younger than the 1600s, but the architecture is similar. They were still teaching penmanship when I was in grade school. I remember one year when Mom took me out of school for a few days so we could do a week in Washington, DC, and the only homework my teacher required me to do was penmanship. I have some more doors from Sara’s trip to Hopkinsville:

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Dan – lovely to see the variety of buildings and doors … I particularly liked the door to the tower. I couldn’t watch the video – not ‘loved in this country’ … but no worries – I had time and thought I’d look. I’m so pleased you had a good time – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m you had a good and uneventful (in any negative ways) trip, Dan. I’m looking forward to a trip to southern California at the end of the month but driving, not flying. My favorite of your doors today is that of the entrance to the tower although it may be due more to the gate than the door. I’m going for the gold with one door only today as I’m trying to meet two challenges with one door.


    Liked by 2 people

  8. Welcome home from the farm belt or corn country! I hope you all had a wonderful time seeing each other and catching up in person.

    I love the red brick, the wonderful ornate gate to the tower entrance, and the clock tower. Kudos to those who got the clock working again. Sacred Heart is lovely. I want to go inside and see it there too.

    I’m serving picnic fare doors over on my blog today. Find it

    Liked by 2 people

  9. These are truly splendid photos, Dan. I love the Sacred Heart with the different color (not gray stone, not brick) and the wonderful round window. But I’ve been fascinated with towers since childhood. There was a gray stone tower (mid nineteenth century) in a national park near my home. It was mesmerizing to me. Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Imagine a ‘teacher of penmanship’ today. Writing, the lost art, needs rejuvenation. And I did not know what a ‘normal’ school refers to…a two year preparation institution (for teachers), is this correct?

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for the history, Dan. I didn’t know that Hartford public high school was the second oldest public high school school in America. That is wonderful. And, I would love to have a meeting and talk with Henry Barnard! What a great mind. The main entrance to the school, and the door to the tower are fantastic!

    Liked by 1 person

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