The Old State House

East elevation of the Old State House (1970); Source- NRIS 66000878
Historic/Common Name:
The Old Hartford State House
Address:
800 Main Street
Town:
Hartford »
Year:
Following the authorization by the General Assembly in May 1792 for the construction of a new State House for Connecticut, Charles Bulfinch designed the structure which was built between 1793 and 1796. Important exterior changes were made in 1815 and 1825-27, but few others have been made since that time. Very extensive changes were made between 1879 when the building became the Hartford City Hall and 1918 when a restoration program was begun.
Historic Designation:
LHP, SR, NR, NHL
Property Authority:
Historic Property Commission/ Historic Preservation Commission
Nature of Authority:
Regulatory
Eligible for Historic Home tax credits:
Yes
General description:

The three-story block building with tripartite open arcades in the pavilions of the east and west fronts, derives its overall form from the Liverpool Town Hall (1748-1755) designed by John Wood. The rustication, pavilions, and open arcade may be traced to the very influential work of Sir William Chambers, Somerset House, in The Strand. In the Hartford State House, we see the shell of a building which has hardly changed from the early nineteenth century, but it should be noted that changes were made early on to the original eighteenth century elevation. The wooden balustrade at the roofline was added in 1815 as a safety device in case firemen should have to work on the roof, and a major addition was made in 1825-1827, when the cupola was added, a copy of the one on New York's City Hall. In 1854, the open arcade on the ground floor which extended through the center of the building to connect the east and west pavilions, was enclosed at each end, forming one large room between. The building is constructed of brick and stone, with a low-hipped slate roof. Clearly, the east facade is the most elaborate front, where the Doric portico emphasizes the center of the building from which addresses were made to people gathered in the square further east of the State House. [NR]

Significance of the property:

Architecture, Political:The Hartford State House was designed by Charles Bulfinch in 1792, and constitutes the first of the series of great public buildings built by this noted architect. Followed by more ambitious works like the Massachusetts State House and The Court House, this is a prototype of the Adamesque-Federal style which acquires, through Bulfinch, a new level of dignity and bearing. The Hartford State House was the site of the famous Hartford Convention of 1814, one of the earliest debates concerning the sovereignty of the States versus the sovereignty of the nation. Although extensively reworked on the interior, the exterior of the Old State House has been little changed from its early nineteenth century appearance. Maintained in good condition as a museum for the City of Hartford, the Old State House has been regularly open to the public since 1921. [NR]

Relationship with the Surroundings:

The 1.05 acres plot is located at Central Row, Main Street, in the heart of a regional scale commercial area. The property is flanked by a plaza towards the north, bounded by roads on the remaining sides- Main Street towards the west, Central Row towards the south and the intersection of Prospect Street, State Street and Market street towards the east.

Features:
Building
Historic Use:
State House
Present Use:
Museum
Architectural Style:
Adamesque-Federal
Era:
18th Century
Ownership:
Private- Public
Owner:
City of Hartford
Sources:

Assessors information retrieved from the website http://assessor1.hartford.gov/Default.asp?br=exp&vr=6.
Property information retrieved from the town website http://www.hartford.gov/.
[2] Old State House, Historic District - Historic Properties Study Committee Report, 1990, SHPO Library, Hartford.
GIS information retrieved from the website http://www.crcog.org/gissearch/.
[NR] Dillon James, The Old Hartford State House, National Register Nomination Number- 66000878 NRIS, National Park Service, 1966. http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Text/66000878.pdfhttp://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NHLS/Photos/66000878.pdf

Map:

Map of the historic property retrieved the online GIS map.

View photo
Date of Compilation:
12/31/11
Compiler:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation