If you are a fan of Mark Twain and his books, you must visit the Mark Twain House and Museum, when you are in Connecticut! The house is where Samuel Clements, a.k.a. Mark Twain, lived from 1871, and wrote most of his famous books including "The Adventure of Tom Sawyer" and "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn". The guided tour of the house gives you a great understanding of the man behind those great stories as well as the life in Hartford in the 19th century.
Beside the fact that it was Mark Twain's house, the house is a museum of its own decorated by luxurious pieces from that time period, walls hand painted by Tiffany, etc., etc..
There are many old (for US at least) buildings and establishments in Connecticut. The Wadsworth Atheneum is one of them. It was founded in 1842, the oldest public art museum in the USA. It holds 50,000 art works from around the world, and hold special exhibitions through out the year.
If you are visiting by a car, you'll park in one of nearby garages or on the street where the parking meter is placed.
They offer free admission options including below: (See website for more options.)
Second Saturdays For Families:
- Arrive before 1 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month and enjoy free admission for the day.
Bank of America Museums on Us:
- Bank of America gives its credit and debit cardholders free admission to the Wadsworth Atheneum the first weekend every month.
Like many American cities, there is tribute to Christopher Columbus, donated by Italian Americans. This is a fine eight foot tall full figure bronze created by Vincenzo Miserendino and dedicated on October 12, 1926. Nearby is one of the older congregations for the Christian Science denomination, housed in a building of Greek Revival architecture.
Adjacent to the Capitol grounds on Lafeyette Circle is an impressive bronze equestrian statue on a granite base dedicated to The Marquis de LaFayette, and important French ally during the American Revolutionary war. Originally dedicated in 1932, the bronze is from the work of Paul Wayland Bartlett, a sculpture born in New Haven, CT, but who lived most of his life in France. His 1907 work was created for the grounds of the Louvre in Paris. Later, bronze fabricator, Albert Entress, created a copy for Hartford. When you visit this, note the small turtle near the horse's left rear hoof, a very unusual feature symbolizing the fabricator's lateness in creating this cast copy.
There are numerous memorials to veterans of wars as well as a tribute to a revolutionary figure, Thomas Knowlton, who at age 36 died in the midst of the war. Mortars from the Civil War battle of St. Petersburg grace one driveway entrance.
Look closely at the building and you will find symbolic figures of various chapters in Connecticut history, as well as the many famous Connecticut founding fathers and revolutionary war figures. New figures are still being added on the south and west sides, including a dedication to a Connecticut woman. Seven of these figures high in their niches on the west side are by H. A. MacNeil (1866-1947). (See link below for more about this sculpture) The east side, which was completed first, has some outstanding lintels, or tympanum over the arching entrances. The central tympanum, "The Charter Oak" by Charles Salewski, was the first piece of sculpture created for the Capitol.
High on a knoll above Bushnell Park is the very impressive gold domed Connecticut State Capitol. The building houses the legislative and executive branches of the state government. The architecture of the domed building is from the combined efforts of James G. Batterson and Richard M. Upjohn. The original architectural design by Richard M. Upjohn is in the Eastlake Style, with French and Gothic revival elements, but stone merchant and contractor Batterson modified the plans considerably, particularly around the dome itself. The exterior is made from East Canaan, Connecticut marble, and granite from Westerly, Rhode Island. There are many fine details in the exterior masonry of this building, and when combined with its stunning location on the hill, this one of the most impressive state capitol buildings I've visited in the USA. Construction began in 1871 and was completed by 1878.
The tall buildings downtown are hemmed in on the south and west by Bushnell Park, an extensive inner city park of lawn, trees, fountains, and statues. In winter, much of the lawn areas are covered by snow, and an ice rink is created near the indoor carousel.
The original state house has been converted into a museum of oddities (see link), but the location downtown and the grounds that surround it are very impressive. The Old State House was built in 1972 and designed by Charles Bulfinch, so it is a post-American Revolution building. The streets are brick but many of the surrounding buildings are modern glass and steel.
I didn't have time to visit, but I was favorably impressed with the architecture of the new Science Center on the Waterfront in Hartford. Check out the link for more information. This is a great place to take the kids. There's a glass elevator and rooftop view.
Right on the riverfront there is a very nice statue commemorating a wartime visit by Abraham Lincoln to Hartford, where Harriet Beecher Stowe, famous author of Uncle Tom's Cabin came to greet him.
Nathan Hale was a lieutenant in the Continental Army. In his early twenties, Hale had worked as a teacher before the Revolution. In late September 1776 he volunteered to cross the British lines and travel to Long Island in order to gather intelligence. Unfortunately, his mission was soon discovered and he was captured by the British. Taken to General Howe's headquarters (commander of the British forces) in New York, the young spy was interrogated and executed on September 22.
What particularly impressed me was what he said right before the execution: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
This was an absolute *must* for me. Mark Twain is one of my favourite writers, as a kid I devoured Tom Sawyer's and Huck Finn's adventures, later I enjoyed The Innocents Abroad, A Tramp Abroad and others of his books. I found the admission fee to be quite expensive at first, but then again, it must cost a lot to keep this house and museum up. Also, the tour (admission to the house only with a tour, calculate an hour minimum) was excellent, done by a guy with English accent which was sorta funny.
I cannot recall much of the museum in the modern building but do know they had a nice Tiffany items exhibt when I was there. Mark Twain's house is originally preserved. I was surprised at his apparently odd taste in decoration. Go and see yourself! :-)
Open Monday through Saturday 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. and Sunday 12 - 5:30 p.m.
Closed Tuesdays Jan - March
Admission: Adults $14, Seniors $12, Kids 6-16 years old $8
Bushnell Park, designed in the 1850, was the first park in the country purchased by taxpayers for public use. It spreads from the State Capitol hill down to the city's busy centre and is a welcome oasis for a break during sightseeing as well for locals for lunch picnic or so. The park is also home to a few sights like Corning fountain, monuments for local heros, the Carousel (mid Apr - Sept in operation), the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch (accessible only on tours, Thursday noon May - Oct).
The name "Charter Oak" stems from the local legend in which a cavity within the tree - an unusually large white oak tree growing from around the 12th or 13th century until 1856 - was used in late 1687 as a hiding place for the Constitution charter. The oak was then blown down in a violent storm about 150 years later and a relic of it is now displayed in the Hartford State Capitol Building. Also, parts of that tree were used for making a chair for the senate chamber in the State Capitol - see second pic.
Hartford offers variety of activities, arts and cultures. XLCenter hosts events from Ice Hokey games, music concerts, to circus. Visit the Old State House, take the Amistad tour, and get to know...