Overlooking Hartford's 41 acre Bushnell Memorial Park, the Connecticut State Capitol first opened for the General Assembly in January, 1879. James G. Batterson oversaw the building of the Capitol from plans designed by noted architect Richard M. Upjohn. This impressive structure is in the High Victorian Gothic style.
Completed in 1796, the Old State House is generally believed to have been designed by American architect Charles Bulfinch. The exterior building and the Senate have been restored to its original Federal style; the Representative's chamber is Victorian, and the halls and courtroom are Colonial Revival.
Outside the Old State House, there is a small square with an area to sit. Within this small square, there is a statue of Thomas Hooker, a famous pastor, who delivered a sermon on May 31, 1638 with his vision of how Hartford should govern itself:
"The foundation of authority is laid, firstly, in the free consent of the people," he said. He went on to argue that the "choice of public magistrates belongs unto the people by God's own allowance" and that "they who have the power to appoint officers and magistrates, it is in their power also to set the bounds and limitations of the power and the place unto which they call them."
Thomas Hooker's sermons formed the basis of Hartford's Fundamental Orders, considered by some to be the world's first written constitution. It's why Connecticut came to be known as the Constitution State.
The Wadsworth Atheneum is the oldest public art museum in the United States, with significant holdings of French and American Impressionist paintings, Hudson River School landscapes, modernist masterpieces and contemporary works, as well as extensive holdings in early American furniture and decorative arts.
Note: The museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Monday).
The Greater Hartford Welcome Center is conveniently located on Pratt Street in the Hartford city center. The woman in the office was extremely helpful, and they have many maps and brochures of interest. Before exploring Hartford, I would highly recommend that you make this welcome center your first stop.
On a street in Bushnell Park, you will see the impressive Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch made of brownstone in the Gothic and Romanesque revival style. The arch was dedicated on September 17, 1886 in honor of the 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in the Civil War, including 400 who died in Union uniforms.
Bushnell Park is an oasis of green in the Hartford city center. Within the park, there are many impressive monuments. There is also a lovely carousel that has limited hours of operation (it was closed on the days that I visited).
The Travelers Tower is Hartford's tallest building -- and there is an observation deck if you want to get a good view. At 34 stories in height, the tower reaches 527 feet above street level and has a flashing red beacon during the daytime as an aid to air navigation.
America's first public park is the centerpiece of downtown Hartford. Dating back to the 1850s, Bushnell Park will please nature lovers as well as history and architecture lovers, with such features as the Soliders and Sailors Memorial Arch, the Spanish American War Memorial, and so on. The park also offers guided tours and for 50 cents you can hop on the Carousel!
This museum was a suprise and is wonderful. There's quite a variety of work from 15th century wood sculptures (my favorite) to de Kooning paintings and changing exhibits. A membership is really worthwhile and you can take your lunch or just cruise by on a quick visit to see your favorites.
Old State House, now protected by an iron fence, is surrounded by the modern high-rise buildings of downtown Hartford. This venerable building, built in 1796 served as the State Capitol until it was supplanted by the new capitol building in Bushnell Park in 1878. Old State House was then relegated to City Hall duty (1879-1915) and finally to its present role as a museum, featuring concerts and exhibits.
In Bushnell Park, there is still an old carousel from 1914, that's only 50 cents a ride! And if you're really into carousels, there's a carousel museum in Bristol, about a half hour ride SW of Hartford, right down Rte. 84. Go to the web site I list below--it has wonderful detail about the carousel, including a virtual tour, and also has info about the museum.
I really was impressed by the variety and grandeur of the sites to enjoy in the very small area of Hartford that I was able to cover on foot in only a couple of hours! This monument to Civil War veterns is something to see in itself - also serving as a gate to Bushnell Park which then leads onward to the State Capitol building.
From 1874 to 1891, Mark Twain resided in this 19-room, "eclectic" mansion, spending time with his family while working on such classics as "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" and "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn".
A guided tour of the house will take you through the rooms of this eccentric yet beautiful residence, giving visitors lots of information about the history of the place and of its famous owner. And by the way, some of the guides appear to share Mark Twain's incredible sense of humor...!
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
Built during the 1870s and overlooking Bushnell Park, the Connecticut State Capitol is a splendid example of Victorian Gothic architecture. It is constructed of marble and granite and crowned by a gold leaf dome. Guided tours are free!
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...