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Since I found a wealth of historical information and photographs from within the Clay Hill district in Hartford, Connecticut, I decided to share the credit (and the work) for this week’s post with the folks at the National Registry of Historic Places (NRHP) – actually, that would be the US National Parks Service.
Today’s post is entirely focused the Faith Congregational Church formerly the Clay Hill Windsor Congregational Church and its parish hall. The text of this post and all but two of today’s photos are from the NRHP nomination form.
The Romanesque Revival brick building now known as Faith Congregational Church was built for the Windsor Avenue Congregational Church in 1871-1872 to the design of Samuel J.F. Thayer of Boston. The 62′ x 75′ structure faces west close to the sidewalk in the north end of Hartford on a street that was named Windsor Avenue, now Main Street. In the 1870s the area was developing as a desirable residential neighborhood north of Hartford’s downtown. Many of the contemporary houses remain standing, as seen in Photograph 1, which shows an Italianate-style house close by to the north and a Queen Anne house to the south. There has been some commercial intrusion as well.+ The facade of the church is dominated by a strong central gable which is flanked by a square tower to the north and an apsidal-shaped wall to the south. The composition is asymmetrical but balanced. In the wall under the central gable is a two-story recessed wall arch which contains the front entrance aedicule, second-story windows, and diaper work. (Photograph 2) Steps with three risers approach the heavy double wooden door of horizontal and diagonal battens on diagonal flush boards under a blind transom with guatrefoil. There are corner stones left and right of the doorway, that to the left reading “1871,” the date of construction of the church, that to the right reading “Talcott Street Congregational Church,” the name of the church from which the present congregation is descended. The round-arched doorway has brick voussoirs alternating in colors black and red. The use of black brick for accent continues throughout the exterior. Horizontal lines are provided by the stone water table, short stone belt courses about two feet above the water table which connect left and right with a black brick belt course, and a black brick belt course partially obscured by the gable of the doorway.National Registry of Historic Places – Reference Number: 93000174
At the second floor paired round-arched windows are contained in three round-arched apertures. The windows are defined by engaged colonnettes. A black brick belt course connects their capitals. Above the windows a bold black brick diaper pattern fills the wall arch. The voussoirs of the arch repeat the alternating red and black brick pattern of the arch over the doorway. In the center of the tympanum an oculus is glazed with a quartrefoil, repeating that in the doorway transom.
The parish house, known as Hillyer Hall, Isaac A. Alien, Jr., architect, was built behind the church in 1904. It is a two-story 55′ x 84 ! brick building with corner buttresses, round-arched fenestration, and diamond glazing, in these respects taking its cue from the church, but at the same time the parish house clearly has its own identity. (Photographs 3 and 12) Independently of the church design, Hillyer Hall has first-floor windows which are rectangular, a one-story three-sided bay in the south elevation, and a roof overhang. The roof is hipped with a central gable flanked by small triangular louvered dormers. Yet the second-floor recessed wall arch over the bay is reminiscent of its counterpart which frames the front entrance of the church.
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