Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District
The Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2002. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.
Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District is the block of Grandview Terrace in south Hartford that runs north and south between White Street and Linnmoore Street. Part of a 1900 real estate development, it is distinctive because it is the only block with a central median, making it a boulevard, because the lots are larger than those surrounding it, and because the 17 houses on the block, built between 1910 and 1925, are characteristic examples of contemporary architectural styles in a good state of historic preservation.
While the roadway of Grandview Terrace is flat running from White Street on the north to Linnmoore Street on the south, grade slopes up from the street to the west and down to the east, as the terrain is essentially a long sloping hillside. There are 17 houses on the block, nine on the west side and eight on the east. Twelve are two-family homes, five single-family. Fifteen are frame, one brick, and one stucco. All are designed in architectural styles in vogue during the first quarter of the 20th century. Stylistic features often are mixed in a single building. Roughly categorized, there are two houses in the Neo-Classical Revival style, four Colonial Revival, two Dutch Colonial Revival, six American Foursquare, one Federal Revival, and two Bungalows. Six are known to have been designed by architects.
The next street to the west of the Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District is Fairfield Avenue, a major artery on which some large homes were individually constructed in the 19th century, and more in the early 20th century. They were not part of the real estate development that included Grandview Terrace Boulevard. On the other hand, many blocks of houses east, south, and north of the Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District were part of the same real estate development momentum as the district, but the lots are smaller and the houses have less architectural identity than those in the district. Grandview Terrace Boulevard is a local historic district created by the City of Hartford under state enabling legislation. A small sign reading "Historic District" is mounted on the traffic directional indicator at each end of the median.
Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District is significant historically because it was part, the most prestigious part, of an early-20th century "street-car suburb" real estate development that played a role in the rapid growth of Hartford at the turn of the 20th century. In this real estate development, which converted farmland to many small lots for affordable houses, the Boulevard District block was distinctive for its somewhat larger parcels suitable for more architecturally distinguished homes. The Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District is significant architecturally because builders took advantage of the subdivision plan to enhance this block with good examples displaying the characteristic features of contemporary architectural styles, including the Neo-Classical Revival, Colonial Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, Federal Colonial Revival, American Foursquare, and Bungalow.
At the end of the 19th century, the area in south Hartford on both sides of Fairfield Avenue from New Britain Avenue to Cedar Hill Cemetery was farmland and pasture. Except for several estates, there were few buildings. Social and economic conditions in the city, however, held the seeds for significant changes for this open space. Requisite conditions for land development, such as a good economy, a growing population, and dependable transportation, were in place. By the turn of the century, the effects of the severe depression of 1893 were largely past. Between 1890 and 1900, Hartford's population had increased by 70%, and new electric trolley lines radiated in all directions from the city's center. One of them ran out New Britain Avenue with a spur down Fairfield Avenue to Cedar Hill Cemetery.
The arrival of dependable transportation was a new factor that made it possible to develop suburbs for middle-income and working-class families. Life in the central city was characterized by a workday averaging 12 hours, six and sometimes seven days per week, constituting rigorous conditions for breadwinners and their families. Where you lived depended on where you worked and how quickly you could get to work. Grandview Terrace Boulevard was a good distance (2-1/2 miles) from jobs in the center of the city. Over unpaved roads it was a risky commute. But with the trolley on steel rails running on a regular schedule it became feasible to work in the city and live in the country, a circumstance not overlooked by real estate developers..
The initial city record for Grandview Terrace was filed with Hartford's City Clerk on September 17, 1900, in the form of a plat of building lots and streets in a subdivision called Parkway Heights. The lots and streets were laid out as they are today and Grandview Terrace, not yet named, is there with its boulevard. The land of this new subdivision had been the site of the State Reformatory, used principally for farming and grazing. It was bounded by White Street on the north, about 120 feet south of Linnmoore Street on the south, Fairfield Avenue on the west, and what would become Campfield Avenue on the east. On the original tract map Grandview Terrace has the only boulevard and the lots average about 10 feet wider than the majority of the others throughout the tract. The developers envisioned a special future for the block, which was made up of 16 lots out of the 266 lots that comprised the whole of Parkway Heights.
In 1901 a sister tract north of White Street called Trinity Heights also was laid out. Together these two tracts comprised the property of the New England Development and Real Estate Company, one of many real estate speculators which were buying land in a semicircular swath around the city's dense center.
Selling began immediately after the Parkway Heights plat map was filed. Between September and November 12,1900, 12 of the 16 lots on Grandview Terrace Boulevard were sold. Frank C. Benedict was the real estate agent who transacted the sale of all the properties in the two tracts. Lots sold for an average of $250.00. By 1902 all the lots in Parkway Heights were sold or transferred into private hands and the development company disappeared from the city directory. None of the original buyers built a house and lived in the development. Once purchased, the lots sat vacant for years. The first building permit for Grandview Terrace Boulevard was issued to Edith Kimball on June 29,1910. Then one permit followed in 1911, two in 1913, and one in 1915. These first five homesteaders lived a lonely rural existence until 1920, but then the construction pace picked up and by 1925 the block was complete almost as it is today. (Many of the garages came later.) From the beginning of building on the street, Grandview Terrace Boulevard attracted a mix of people from management, middle management, education, medicine, and the trades, though variety was primarily economic rather than ethnic . The following is a list of residents and their occupations on the block in 1930: 250, Irene McNally, nurse; 252, Alexander Stuart, clerk, Aetna Fire Ins. Co.; 254, Elmer and Anna Fenwick, he a salesman, she a bookkeeper; 256, Russell Johnson; 255, Christian (Lucy) Due, assistant at State Library; 257, Timothy O'Donnell; 260, John F. Thompson, dentist; 261, Allan Risteen (Ella), Director of Technical Research, The Travelers; 263, Andrew Wroblewski (Mary); 266, George Kinsella, adjuster; 267, John J. O'Donnell, starter at Connecticut Co.; 269, George V. Davis, manager, Connecticut Boulevard, East Hartford; 271, Frank Madigan, manager, 3 New Britain Avenue; 272, Thomas L. Bestor, associate Trust Officer, Hartford National Bank; 273, Thomas E. Dooley, federal bank examiner; 275, Frederick (Isabella C.) Woolley, assistant storekeeper; 277, Martin Christensen, Hartford Paper Ruler Co.; 280, Walter McAndrews; 281, Michael A. Connor, president, Michael A. Connor Construction Co.; 284, George E. Kimball; 287, William E. Ricketson, Secretary, Hartford Builders Finish Co.; 287, Neils A. Mortensen, salesman at 122 Washington; 289, Willard A. Snow (Annabelle), salesman; 290, Peter Anderson, mason; 291, Peter Johnson, tailor; 293, George F. Hamlin, superintendent for repairs, State Highway Department; 297, Lyman A. Smith, employee, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft.
Architecture and Architects
The 17 houses in the Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District without exception are good examples of architectural styles popular in the first quarter of the 20th century, displaying characteristic design features of the period. Perhaps the most dominant presence is that of the eight double houses which often combine the columns and pediments of the Neo-Classical Revival with the roof and proportions of the American Foursquare (250-252, 255-257, 261-263, 267-269, 271-273, 275-277, 287-289, 291-293). Good sized, they are deeper, almost long rectangles in shape, rather than more nearly square as often found in the American Foursquare style. Front porches at both levels are important features.
The Colonial Revival is well represented by the gambrel roof of 290-292, by a gable-roofed, three-bay, central entrance typical example (260), and by a sign of the times in one-story "sun room" wings (260, 266, 272). 254-256 is a twin-chimney member of the group with the added interest of double and tripartite windows and a small second-story overhang. 280 has the distinction of being covered with wood shingles
In two examples of the Dutch Colonial Revival (266, 272) the typical gambrel roof is more apparent in the profile than in the reality, the usual shed-roof of the dormer appearing more as the principal roof slope, but the de rigueur pent roof is in place at first floor level.
Perhaps the most sophisticated house on the block, both in materials and design, is 281, which is built of brick laid up in English bond of alternating headers and stretchers, with a slate roof and stone sills. The brick-arched open arcade of the front porch and splayed lintels with keystones exemplify the brick-laying craftsmanship, which includes decorative herringbone patterns and radial window surrounds. The millwork of front door, shutters, window surrounds, and roofline fascia is outstanding.
Two Bungalows (284, 297) add variety to the make up of the block. The structural material of 284 establishes an out-of-the-ordinary tone, while the arched front porch, hooded side entry, and narrow second-floor window panes with Gothic arch glazing all bear witness to the dedication of the designer in creating a consistent idiosyncratic design of unusual originality for a tract house.
Architects are known for five of the 17 houses. These architects were the following:
281, Michael A. Connor (1887-1947), president of Michael A. Connor Construction Company. He is credited (by the building permit and family tradition) with both designing and constructing this, his own, home, which is now owned and occupied by his son's (Michael A. Connor, Jr.) family.
255-257, Dunkelberger & Gelman. George L. Dunkelberger (1891-1960) and Joseph L. Gelman (1892-1953) practiced in partnership from 1921 to 1927. The firm produced apartment houses with unusually imaginative textures, roofs, and decorative features. 1-7 Wethersfield Avenue, 1925, is a good example. Dunkelberger went on to design the equally imaginative low-budget bridges for the Merritt Parkway, for which he is widely remembered.
260, George F. Johnson. No information is at hand regarding George F. Johnson.
272, William David Johnson (1863-1939). A Yale graduate, Johnson worked five years as an engineer for the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. In architectural practice, he designed homes, schools, and warehouses in the firms of Curtis & Johnson, 1891-1903, and Johnson & Burns, 1908-1914, and by himself.
260, Henry B. Sumner ( -1922). Little information is at hand regarding Summer. His only other known work is 41-43 Adams Street.
261-263, George Zunner (ca. 1861-1936). Born in Germany, Zunner came to the United States as supervising architect for construction of the German pavilion at the Chicago World's Colombian Exposition of 1893, before coming to Hartford in 1896. He designed houses for low- and middle-income families in great number.
Henry, Carl, Jr. "Draft Report for the Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District." Documentation for listing the district in the State Register of Historic Places. 1999 .
Ransom, David F. "Biographical Dictionary Hartford Architects." Connecticut Historical Society Bulletin: 54 (Winter/Spring 1989) 1-2.
† David F. Ransom, architectural historian and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, Grandview Terrace Boulevard Historic District, Hartford, Connecticut, nomination document, 2002, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.