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West End North Historic District


The West End North Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1985. Portions of the text below were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2011, The Gombach Group.

Description

The West End North Historic District lies directly north of Farmington Avenue in Hartford, Connecticut, adjacent to and including the West Hartford-Hartford border of Prospect Avenue. There are approximately 297 major buildings in the West End North Historic District, of which 291 contribute to its historic and architectural significance. The West End North Historic District's contributing buildings date from about 1870 to 1930. Their architectural styles represent most of those in use during that period, including the Stick style, Queen Anne, Shingle style and Colonial Revival. Approximately 212 of the contributing structures are frame, 28 are stucco, 20 are brick, 20 are brick and frame, 6 are brick and stucco and 5 are frame and stucco. 250 of the contributing buildings originally were single-family residences, and most of these remain in that use. Three houses on Farmington Avenue, seven on Prospect Avenue and two on Tremont Street are now used for professional offices. The only contributing structures not built for residential use were the Noah Webster School and its two, detached, later additions.

The six non-contributing buildings all date from after the Second World War and are located on Whitney Street, Lorraine Street and Prospect Avenue. Whitney Street has a modern brick church and auditorium and a modern brick school that is now used for offices. 60 Lorraine Street, a 1959 brick building, is the headquarters for the Connecticut Christian Conference. Several modern apartment buildings are now located on Prospect Avenue; of these, #632-636 is the largest.

The West End North Historic District streets are laid out in a grid pattern, with long, rectangular blocks oriented north-south. Large trees and ample foliage in well-maintained yards frame the buildings. Most of the houses are set back the same distance from the street on moderately-sized lots, and they are all nearly uniform in scale and general proportions (2-1/2 stories high and 3 or 4 bays wide). The houses on Prospect Avenue occupy larger lots and have deeper setbacks than found elsewhere. These homes are larger, too, but the same sense of similarity prevails. Front porches are common, varying in size from a 1-bay-wide entrance porch to a sweeping, wraparound verandah. Beyond these similarities, the houses differ from one another in their massing, texture and detail. Since there are only 7 vacant lots in the West End North Historic District, the total effect is one of density and much variety in shape, design and details.

Boundary

The West End North Historic District's cohesion in age, scale and overall appearance sets it apart from its surroundings and readily identifies its boundaries. To the south, Farmington Avenue is lined with modern, 2- and 3-story office buildings, and only 3 of its original, turn-of-the-century houses remain. To the east are the Park River, which separates the West End North Historic District clearly from Woodland Street on its other side, and the campus of the University of Connecticut Law School, which is already listed in the National Register of Historic Places. To the north and west, the houses are newer, and those to the north generally are more substantial in size and lavish in detail. Within the West End North Historic District, single-family houses predominate and set the tone.

Architectural Styles

The architectural styles in the West End North Historic District range, chronologically, from the Gothic Revival to the Prairie style. Most of the buildings date from 1895-1910 and exhibit features of the Queen Anne, Shingle or Colonial Revival styles. Quite a number of buildings combine elements of several styles. In fact, eclectic houses far outweigh the purer examples of the various styles. The Tudor Revival style appears more often in tandem than it does by itself. The numerous eclectic houses from 1890-1915 illustrate the gradual transition from the Queen Anne to the Colonial Revival style and the extensive mixing of these styles with each other and with the Shingle style. 25 architects worked in the West End North Historic District. Of these, Albert W. Scoville and his brother, William H. Scoville, were the builders/architects of 27 and 23 houses, respectively. Their works are concentrated on Lorraine and North Beacon Streets.

Early Styles. The earliest surviving building is a c.1871 house at 96 Kenyon Street. This house harmoniously combines strong and typical features of the Italian Villa and Gothic Revival styles, including an Italianate tower and brackets, and clustered, cast stone chimney pots characteristic of the Gothic Revival. Its wide front porch, with a flat entablature and Tuscan columns, is classical and may well be a later addition.

17, 21 and 25 Sherman Street are the only Second Empire style buildings in the West End North Historic District. #21 and #25 (1877 and 1878, respectively) are nearly identical, and their large square towers with intricate iron cresting are dramatic and picturesque. #21 appears well preserved (or accurately restored), and the application of non-original synthetic siding and an asphalt-shingle roof to #25 present a strong visual contrast.

Only one house in the West End North Historic District, 33 Girard Avenue (1886-1887), is Gothic Revival. Here, too, non-original grained asbestos siding diminishes the impact of its stylistic details.

Most of the Stick style houses also have Gothic Revival or Queen Anne features. One of the few arguably pure Stick style buildings is the c.1890 house at 57 Sherman Street. Its front porch has strong Stick style carved braces and brackets and a fine stickwork gable screen. The c.1875 house at 95 Kenyon Street nicely combines mostly Stick details (e.g., pierced porch braces) with a Gothic Revival frieze on a side ell. The complexity of the stickwork porch details at 53 Sherman Street (c.1890), especially the side gable spindles with decorative balls, is perhaps more Queen Anne in feeling than Stick style.

Queen Anne. The 35 Queen Anne houses are either hip- or pitch-roofed with cross gables. Most feature gable peaks that project over cutaway bays. A few houses have full or engaged corner towers. The omnipresent front porches have either Stick style details or more elaborate combinations. Wood frame and brick houses are both common, and the former usually display both clapboards and decorative shingles. Some of the Queen Anne houses have stained glass windows or upper sashes glazed with narrow vertical and diamond lights. Girard Avenue and Sherman Street are lined with similar wood-framed Queen Anne houses, many of which now have non-original synthetic siding. Their contrasting porch details are especially interesting. 39 Girard Avenue (1886) has an intricate pierced front gable screen in a sunburst design. The front porch cross gable at #43 (1886-87) is decorated with small, pierced fans.

One of the most highly detailed Queen Anne houses is 55 Kenyon Street, built in 1890. Its elaborate porches and strong surface texture of clapboards and patterned shingles are the highlights of this picturesque house. The brick Queen Anne houses exhibit some interesting variations in detail. 49 and 55 Girard Avenue (both c.1886-1887) have decoratively laid brick window arches and robust, turned cross braces in otherwise Stick style porches. 104 Kenyon Street (1898) shows the influence of the Chateauesque in its arched, tripartite window with transoms (stained glass) and oriel.

Shingle Style. The most common Shingle style elements among the 28 houses in this style are a gambrel roof and an asymmetrical plan with a corner tower and polygonal dormer. 79 Girard Avenue (1897) and 56 Cone Street (1897) have the flat, plastic surfaces typical of this style, especially in their large corner towers. Their upper sash glazing in vertical and diamond-shaped lights is as common to this style as to the Queen Anne and Colonial Revival homes in the district.

Paired, polygonal tower dormers, joined by a second-floor, shed-roofed porch, are found at 75 Girard Avenue (1897). Its side, tripartite window underneath a shingled arch is rare. More substantial houses with cross gables are at 146 and 148 Kenyon Street (both 1903). #146's Palladian window is a common Colonial Revival feature in Shingle style houses.

Local builders also easily adapted this style for multi-family housing. 113-115 Whitney Street (1913) has a graceful arcaded porch that conveys a strong sense of Shingle style horizontality. At the same time, its angularity and tall chimneys are reminders of the Queen Anne style.

Colonial Revival. The West End North Historic District's Colonial Revival buildings display classical detailing and symmetrical massing, and their wall coverings range among clapboards, wood shingles, brick and stucco. Square houses with hipped roofs and dormers are common, such as 49 Kenyon Street, built in 1896. Its front entrance porch and decoratively glazed Palladian and elliptical windows are more elegant than most. The brick and wood shingle house at 44 Kenyon Street (1908) shows Tudor Revival (clustered chimney pots and half-timbered dormers) and Bungalow/Craftsman influences (exposed rafters). Several Colonial Revival houses are rectangular and brick- or stucco-faced. 700 Prospect Avenue (1900, Smith and Bassette) is a good example, and the round-headed window at the stairway landing level is a typical feature. The large brick house at 40 North Beacon Street (1928, Carl J. Malmfeldt) punctuates its facade with a projecting entrance pavilion. The group at #131, #135 (both by Charles O. Whitmore), #141 (A. Raymond Ellis) and 145 Elizabeth Street, constructed in 1915 or 1916, illustrate the smaller and simpler plans and detailing of later Colonial Revival houses. The West End North Historic District also contains a few efforts at recreating authentic Georgian residences, of which 714 Prospect Avenue (1901) is notable with its imitation quoins and elaborate door frame.

Tudor Revival. The Tudor Revival/Jacobethan Revival style is represented by just a few buildings. 638 Prospect Avenue (c.1900) has all of the elements of this style, such as stucco and half-timbered cross gables in a steep-pitched roof and elaborate chimneys. Its massive, almost free-form landscaping suits the architecture nicely. The houses at 121 and 127 Tremont Street, both from 1909, combine many of these Tudor Revival features with strong Colonial Revival plans and some detailing. In contrast, the nearby Noah Webster School (1900, William C. Brocklesby) typifies the rich decorative detail and texture often characteristic of the Jacobethan Revival. Its fairy-tale appearance is the product of features such as its segmentally-arched, glazed brick window surrounds, the diamond and quatrefoil designs of its half timbering, and the soaring paneled chimneys.

Bungalow/Craftsman. An unusual group of nominally Bungalow/Craftsman buildings distinctively combine several stylistic influences. Their plans, with low, pitched roofs, are Bungalow; their exterior wood framing is Western Stick; and their intricately carved exterior molding is Neo-Classical and Swiss Chalet-inspired. The Kingswood-Oxford School at 695 Prospect Avenue (c.1900, Edward T. Hapgood), built as a residence, is the largest of these houses. The third-floor balcony especially reflects the Swiss Chalet influence. Albert Scoville built a similar house, all in wood, at 53 North Beacon Street (1903). Its arcaded corbel table is Romanesque Revival, and its wave molding and floral pattern paneling are more explicitly Neo-Classical than that at 695 Prospect Avenue.

North Beacon Street has three houses that are more typically Bungalow/Craftsman. #103 (1909, Albert W. Scoville) has the broad roofline and large, supporting, front porch columns that one expects of this style.

Eclectic (1895-1910). Many buildings from 1895-1910 liberally combine popular styles, with no one style clearly dominant. 735 Prospect Avenue (c.1901), for example, combines the Queen Anne, Shingle style and Colonial Revival. Its strong, Queen Anne angles contrast with the vigorous plasticity of its Shingle style corner tower and the elegant Colonial Revival details, such as the large front porch. 639 Prospect Avenue, a c.1895 frame house, has a fancy, Queen Anne style pattern of wood shingles highlighting its otherwise flat, Shingle style sheathing. The four-part bay windows are Jacobethan Revival. A whimsical combination of features may be found in 726 Prospect Avenue, a 1900 house that joins an unusual, Gothic Revival inspired corner tower and Jacobethan Revival cross gables with elements that are characteristic of the other, more prevalent styles.

The large number of houses that are both Queen Anne and Colonial Revival illustrate the wide range of appearances possible in combining just these two styles. 153-155 Kenyon Street, built in 1904, juxtaposes a Queen Anne plan and sheathing with Colonial Revival details (including the most elaborate porch pediment in the district). 743 Prospect Avenue, a c.1900 brick and frame house, remains visible behind ample foliage because of its unusual, flared bell-shaped tower roof. This strong Queen Anne feature is matched by large and abundant Colonial Revival decorative details. The placement of the even more plentiful and rich Colonial Revival detailing at 65 Kenyon Street (1900) strengthens the impact of its Queen Anne massing. 690 Prospect Avenue (c.1900), in contrast, is Colonial Revival in plan and Queen Anne in its mixture of details and textures. Its Bungalow/Craftsman-inspired front entrance is unique. 750 Prospect Avenue (1905, Charles O. Whitmore, is a subdued alternative to these houses. Its Queen Anne and Colonial Revival features are non-assertive and almost attenuated.

Shingle Style/Colonial Revival. 60 Cone Street (1895, George Keller) typifies the numerous dwellings that mix these styles. Many have even more extensive Colonial Revival detailing, such as 56 Kenyon Street (1899), a 1-story house with a gambrel roof that has Palladian windows (with shingled, arched surrounds), elliptical windows and dentillated cornices.

Many creative and readily identifiable Shingle Style/Colonial Revival houses were designed by William H. Scoville (1809-1932). His work displays an individualistic interpretation and combination of common architectural elements. Among the distinctive features of his buildings are flared roofs; oriels at any floor level; projecting gable and dormer peaks; paneling between and surrounding windows; and oversized detailing.

Rows of houses at 127-133 Kenyon Street and 37-55 Lorraine Street illustrate his work. 127 Kenyon Street (1898) has an unusual, side, engaged tower; windows under flared, shingled pents; wide friezes with large Adamesque garlands; and a two-sided, diagonal, projecting gable peak. Next door, 129 Kenyon Street (1898) is distinguished particularly by an elliptical window with elongated, bracket-like keystones; the crenellated tower; and the paneling in a geometric motif. The houses at 37-55 Lorraine Street are perhaps even more individualistic, and their roofs show a strong Prairie style influence. 37 Lorraine Street (1901) has a diagonal, two-sided window and Craftsman details in its front porch. #41's front and side paneled bays, together with the large shingled brackets, are unique to Scoville in the district. #55 (1900), in turn, has flared eaves that appear especially Oriental-inspired, and a heavy, projecting, dormer gable.

Later Eclectic. The West End North Historic District also contains individual examples of various other stylistic combinations. 150 Oxford Street (1916, A. Raymond Ellis), an unusually large and imposing house for this district, is Mediterranean Revival in most of its features (e.g., plan and segmentally-arched openings), while its front entrance, windows and cornice are Colonial Revival. An even more assertively Mediterranean Revival house is 160 Kenyon Street (1916, Russell F. Barker), with its massive, carved brackets and heavy, iron and wood front entrance canopy. This very eclectic house also shows the influence of the Colonial Revival (plan), Mission (shaped porch parapet in side ell) and Bungalow/Craftsman (exposed rafters) styles. A modest house at 107 North Beacon Street (1908, Albert W. Scoville) exhibits a Colonial Revival plan and Bungalow/Craftsman details. Nearby, 115 North Beacon Street (1905, Albert W. Scoville) is a mixture of the Tudor Revival, Shingle and Western Stick styles.

Significance

The West End North Historic District is architecturally significant because it is a cohesive and virtually intact neighborhood of 19th and early-20th century residences that are fine examples of the architectural styles that were popular during that period of time, including the Second Empire, Queen Anne, Shingle style and Colonial Revival. The sense of time and place found in this neighborhood is striking. Twenty-five different architects and architectural firms of that period, furthermore, have examples of their work here. The West End North Historic District also possesses considerable historic importance because it developed as a result of the economic expansion of Hartford at the end of the 19th century, and it became the home of prominent commercial and financial leaders as well as a cross section of the rapidly expanding middle and upper middle classes in Hartford.

Architecture

The degree of cohesion found in this West End North Historic District is remarkable. Very few of the houses built between 1870 and 1920, the period of the district's greatest historic and architectural significance, are gone. The effect of this cohesion is that the West End North Historic District possesses an unusual and pervasive sense of the period. The building rows display a general uniformity of lot size, facade line, size, scale and proportion. The individual residences, however, exhibit a tremendous variety and distinctiveness in their features and textures. The large trees and well-developed foliage convey a feeling of age and stability.

Adding interest to this cohesion and architectural diversity are the small groups of houses from different periods that are scattered throughout the district, especially those that are architect-designed. The houses in each group typically themselves vary in their detailing, while the contrast between adjoining groups is a graphic display of historical and architectural evolution.

These relationships are found within the groups designed by William H. Scoville on Lorraine Street and Kenyon Street, the group designed by Charles O. Whitmore and A. Raymond Ellis on Elizabeth Street, and the long row of houses by Albert W. Scoville on North Beacon Street, and are found in the contrast among the adjoining rows of Queen Anne, Shingle style and Shingle Style/Colonial Revival houses on Girard Avenue.

A wide range of 19th- and early-20th century architectural styles is found in this neighborhood. Here are solid, probably pattern book-derived, examples of the Second Empire style (17-25 Sherman Street), Gothic Revival style (33 Girard Avenue) and Stick style (95 Kenyon Street and 57 Sherman Street); fine examples of the Queen Anne style (39 Girard Avenue; 55 Kenyon Street; 49 Girard Avenue), Shingle style (79 Girard Avenue), Colonial Revival style (49 Kenyon Street), and Tudor Revival style (638 Prospect Avenue).

Perhaps the most noteworthy architectural aspect of the West End North Historic District is the practice of combining styles in individual houses, a practice that occurred throughout the period of the district's development. The greatest number of such houses mix elements of the Queen Anne, Shingle style and Colonial Revival styles. Early examples of this phenomenon include the oldest building in the West End North Historic District, 96 Kenyon Street (c.1871), which combines the Gothic Revival and Italian Villa styles, and 53 Sherman Street (c.1890), which illustrates the transition from the Stick style to the Queen Anne style. Those that combine the Queen Anne style with later styles take a variety of forms. Most have Queen Anne plans and Shingle style and/or Colonial Revival detailing, and their appearances are usually attractive and occasionally flamboyant. 639 Prospect Avenue is a subdued, yet grand, mixture of the Queen Anne and Shingle styles, while 153-155 Kenyon Street and 65 Kenyon Street, in contrast, have rich Colonial Revival details and archetypal, asymmetrical Queen Anne plans. 735 Prospect Avenue is a very elegant Queen Anne/Colonial Revival residence whose robust, wood-shingled, front corner tower aggressively demonstrates the plasticity of the Shingle style. 726 Prospect Avenue is the most unusual of these Queen Anne-plan houses in its delightful, almost fantastic juxtaposition of the Shingle, Gothic Revival and Jacobethan Revival styles. Almost equally unusual is 690 Prospect Avenue with its Colonial Revival plan and use of Queen Anne and Bungalow/Craftsman detailing. Later examples of this continuing feature of the West End North Historic District's architecture include two houses that attractively combine the Colonial Revival and Mediterranean Revival styles (150 Oxford Street and 160 Kenyon Street). Many residences combine the Tudor Revival style with one or more other styles; of these, 115 North Beacon Street is perhaps the most distinctive, while the west side of Tremont Street is a progression of houses that illustrate how well the Tudor Revival style may be juxtaposed with several other styles.

The houses built by William H. Scoville are particularly interesting, both because of their number (23) and concentration in groups, and because of their sophistication and originality. Working primarily with the Shingle style and Colonial Revival style, Scoville mixed elements of these styles with dexterity and created buildings that are more individualistic than any others in the district. Scoville took typical architectural details and exaggerated them, and he invented, or at least utilized, architectural features that appear in no other houses in the district. His rows of houses at 41-55 Lorraine Street and 127-133 Kenyon Street typify his "style" in their dramatically flared roofs, large, projecting, front dormer gables; 2-sided, diagonal windows; paneled bays, and unusual, elongated keystones.

William H. Scoville (1862-1932) and his brother Albert W. Scoville (1852-1941) were the "most prolific house builders (in Hartford) at the turn of the century," and the West End of Hartford is, to a fair extent, the product of their efforts. Neither had any formal architectural training; William, for example, learned the carpentry trade and worked as a draftsman. Practicing separately throughout their careers, they became skilled and well-respected architects/builders/real estate developers, both for their own accounts and for others. William H. Scoville also became active in public affairs: he served for several terms on the Hartford City Council and headed the building committees for the construction of Hartford's Weaver High School and for the extensive expansion of the Hartford Public High School. His standing in the community led to his inclusion in the 1917 Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography.

Albert W. Scoville's houses exhibit a greater variety of styles than do those of his brother. North Beacon Street, with 21 of the 27 houses lie built in the district, is his tour de force. The lengthy rows, ranging in style from the Shingle style to Bungalow/Craftsman and in date from 1900 to 1909, illustrate the diversity of styles that were popular during just that 9-year period. While most of these buildings are restrained Colonial Revival in style, they include a richly detailed Colonial Revival at #43, an even more exuberant Western Stick style/Bungalow/Craftsman at #53, and a number of houses that combine several styles. The architectural skill displayed on this street is within a framework of fairly uniform scale and proportion.

Of the 25 architects who worked in this West End North Historic District, several others besides the Scovilles deserve mention. A. Raymond Ellis (1882-1950), who designed three houses including the substantial Colonial Revival/Mediterranean Revival residence at 7-150 Oxford Street, graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and came to Hartford in 1908. After working here for ten years, he participated in the Red Cross-financed re-construction of France following the First World War and then served as architectural editor of Woman's Home Companion for almost twenty years. George Keller FAIA (1842-1935) was Hartford's leading 19th-century architect; 60 Cone Street was built to his design. An immigrant from Ireland who had no formal architectural study, Roller achieved prominence in Hartford with his designs for the homes of many local notables and for public buildings. He also gained national recognition for his memorial structures, which included the Solders and Sailors Memorial Arch in Hartford and the James A. Garfield Memorial in Cleveland, Ohio. Russell F. Barker (1873-1961) designed 160 Kenyon Street and six other houses that are predominantly Colonial Revival in style; he worked for George Keller and later for William, H. Scoville early in his career. Edward T. Hapgood (1866-1915), the architect for the Western Stick style/Bungalow/Craftsman style residence at 695 Prospect Avenue (now the Kingswood-Oxford School), was very active in housing construction in Hartford. His most well-known commissions, however, were for non-residential buildings, such as the Connecticut state building at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair, the Connecticut State Library and Supreme Court Building (with Bonn Barber, 1908), the Manchester (Ct.) Hall of Records (1897) and the Rossia Insurance Company in Hartford (1915).

History

Until the 1870s, this westernmost section of Hartford remained open farmland, well apart from any growth in Hartford's commercial or residential areas. By 1870, however, the land ownership was divided between farmers and speculators anticipating residential growth. Sylvanus Cone and his family, after whom Cone Street is named, farmed land on both sides of Farmington Avenue in this vicinity. The other large landowners north of the Avenue in Hartford were Eugene L. Kenyon and Willis Thrall, both of whom were Hartford merchants. Kenyon owned the People's Coal Yard on Front Street in Hartford, a central downtown location, and lived in a spacious home on Farmington Avenue at the corner of what would become Kenyan Street. Thrall, who owned about 90 acres set back from the avenue and lived in the center of the city, was the proprietor of Willis Thrall and Son's hardware store at 10 Central Row, a prized business location directly opposite the Old State House in Hartford that suggests the success of his venture.

Responding to the post-Civil War industrial and population growth in Hartford, Kenyon platted and subdivided the property just north of the avenue that he and the Cones owned. Among the streets created were ones named for Kenyon himself, Willis Thrall and the Cones. This platted area ran from Thrall Street (now Girard Avenue) on the east to Prospect Avenue on the west, and north to Cone Street. This plat formed the basis for all future development in the district. The uncertain economic climate of the 1870s, highlighted by the Panics of 1873 and 1877, undermined Kenyon's plans for development and in the second Panic he lost part, if not all, of his property to the Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company through foreclosure. By then, the area contained only a sprinkling of new homes: three on Sherman Street (#17-25) and two on Kenyon Street (95 and 96). John B. Hills, a local builder, constructed the two Second Empire houses at 21 and 25 Sherman as a speculative venture with stone dealer William Blevins. The new residents were solidly middle class: Nathan Bosworth, at 25 Sherman Street, owned a plumbing and steam heating firm in Hartford, and Alfred Richards at #17 was a downtown tea merchant.

Speculation in this area and in adjoining sections of West Hartford continued during the 1880s, although little further construction occurred. Albert B. Gillett, a prosperous manufacturer and dealer in coffee and spices, and also an active real estate entrepreneur, bought the Thrall farm in 1884 in partnership with his uncle, Alfred S. Gillett, president of the Girard Fire Insurance Company of Philadelphia. In 1886 they bought an adjacent ten acres. Gillett's 1927 obituary, which he wrote for himself in advance, credited him with opening "Girard Avenue" (formerly Thrall Street) to Asylum Avenue in 1886 and with opening, a short time thereafter, Kenyon, Whitney, Tremont and Oxford Streets from Farmington Avenue to Asylum Avenue (note: Tremont has never reached farther north than Cone Street). During his lifetime, Gillett constructed several office buildings downtown on Union Place and State Street, and his interest in this area tends to confirm its attraction as an investment. In 1887, Gillett also became general agent for the Girard Fire Insurance Company, and the double connection to this insurance company accounts for the name change from Thrall Street to Girard Avenue. The Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company, meanwhile, held onto its 15 lots on Kenyon Street and Girard Avenue for 10 years before financing an attractive row of largely Queen Anne style houses on the west side of Girard Avenue in 1886-87. The new owners of these houses included John A.M. Bell (#33), an upholsterer, and H.W. Smith (#39), an agent for the Borden Condensed Milk Company, and Pauline Smith (#39), a stenographer at the Hartford Life and Annuity Insurance Company. The only other house built in the district during this period was 711 Prospect Avenue. This larger home and its deeper lot indicated already the different scale of property and prestige that would come to accompany this avenue address.

Burdett Loomis, a prominent local citizen and real estate investor, owned all of the land on the west side of Prospect Avenue between Farmington Avenue and Fern Street, with his friend and financial partner, Wareham Griswold, and they sold off lots for development. These men are responsible for Prospect Avenue's appearance today: they created lots that are generally wider and deeper than those east of the avenue, and they enhanced the street's legitimacy as an avenue (and perhaps were responsible for its change of name from Prospect Hill Road, which it was called as late as 1860) by widening it from 2 to 3 rods in width. Scion of an old Hartford family, Loomis platted and opened the areas south of Farmington Avenue for development in 1872. He also gained local fame by building the race track at Charter Oak Park, the Hartford area's well-known amusement park during the last half of the 19th century and into the 20th.

Development picked up in the early 1890s, and 38 new homes were built between 1890 and 1895. Most of the west side of Sherman Street filled in, as did the east side of Girard Avenue. The rest of the houses were scattered on Kenyon, Whitney and Cone Streets, and a few houses went up on Oxford Street and Prospect Avenue. Most of the property north of Farmington Avenue and west of Whitney Street remained open because it was tied up in the estate of William P. Cone, who had died in 1890. Cone was at the pinnacle of influence and social standing in Hartford. Not surprisingly, therefore, he made his home on Washington Street, Hartford's premier address at the time, despite this large landholding. A graduate of Hopkins Grammar School (New Haven) and Yale University, Cone helped organize and was president of the Aetna Bank, while also serving as president of the Hartford Carpet Company and counsel to the Hartford and New Haven Rail Road. His civic accomplishments, too, were many: president of the Retreat for the Insane (now the Institute of Living), president of the Wadsworth Atheneum, trustee of the Watkinson Library, and director of the Aetna Fire Insurance Company and Society for Savings. Cone's son, James B. Cone, occupied a large home (now demolished) on Farmington Avenue at North Beacon Street.

The new residents of the district during this period were a cross section of the middle to upper-middle class. Householders included men of modest means such as John T. Burnham, a foreman in a blacksmith shop, at 39 Sherman; Wilbur E. Nettleton, a foreman at Pope's Manufacturing Company, at 102 Kenyon Street; and Frank H. Bossen, a manager/bookkeeper at Pope's, at 60 Cone Street. Prospect Avenue attracted the more affluent, such as Lewis W. Ripley, president of Ripley Brothers, dealers in carpets and wallpaper, who built the substantial Queen Anno/Colonial Revival home, with the exotic bell-shaped tower, at #743. Dr. Gilbert Heublein, whose family founded the wine and spirits company of the same name, lived at #739, and he spent the summers with his family at his highly visible and landmark tower atop Talcott Mountain in Avon.

Hartford was booming by 1895. After years of near stagnation, its grand list grew by 7% in 1895 alone, and in the following five years it rose a total of 30%. These improved economic conditions fueled a strong demand for new housing, and the West End North District helped meet that need with the construction of 77 houses in 1896-1900 and 105 between 1901 and 1910. Most of the remaining open space in the neighborhood disappeared, with the exception of James H. Cone's property on the east side of North Beacon Street and land owned by the Cone Realty Company on the east side of Oxford Street. During this time, William H. Scoville and Albert W. Scoville constructed all of their buildings, and the 1909 Sanborn city atlas shows each of them still owning recently completed houses on several streets. The architectural styles that flourished were the Queen Anne, Shingle style and Colonial Revival, and the eclectic combination of these styles is still the most distinctive feature of the district. Most of these houses were larger than the older ones, and the difference is especially apparent on the west side of the neighborhood and on Prospect Avenue.

By 1910, the growth in the district's population produced a group of increasingly diverse and generally more affluent residents than heretofore. While it was still possible for men such as George A. Bingham, a watchman at the State Capitol, to buy a modest, William H. Scoville-built home at 24 Lorraine Street, professionals such as Dr. Frederic Crossfield at 148 Kenyon Street (a substantial Shingle style home) and businessmen such as Seymour H. Robinson (treasurer, Berlin Construction Company) at 145 Oxford Street (another Shingle style home) were more common. Charles Atkins, a prosperous lumber dealer, built a lavishly detailed home at 65 Kenyon Street. His biography in the 1901 Connecticut Leading Citizens observed that "he has just completed a home on Kenyon Heights, one of the most fashionable locations in the city." Prospect Avenue continued to attract the wealthy, and the construction there generally also was more architecturally original, or at least grander, than found elsewhere. The whimsical Western Stick style/Bungalow/Craftsman stucco, brownstone and frame house that architect Edward T. Hapgood built for Charles E. Shepard, a general agent for the Aetna Life Insurance Company, at 695 Prospect Avenue, shows off both the money and advanced taste of its owner. The visual richness of the Jacobethan Revival Noah Webster School on Cone Street, built in 1900 (later additions in 1906, 1909 and 1932), shows the expense that the city of Hartford, too, was willing to incur in order to equal the architectural distinction of the neighborhood.

Development was virtually complete in 1920, and only seven contributing buildings are of more recent vintage, the last of which dates from 1920. The district was stable and well known for its distinguished residents and homes. These residents increasingly had "foreign" (i.e., other than Anglo-Saxon) names. Irish and Jewish families, in particular, were becoming common. Among the Irish were Benedict Flynn, an assistant secretary at Travelers Insurance Company (160 Kenyon Street); Dr. Michael Gill (735 Prospect Avenue); and Charles Dillon, the owner of a millinery house of the same name that called itself the "leading trimmed hat house in New England" (664 Farmington Avenue). The Jewish families included those of Seymour Kashman, the president of Joseph Kashman & Sons market (104 Kenyon Street), and Jacob Fox, an officer of G. Fox & Company, the city's largest department store (750 Prospect Avenue). Sociologically, the increasing ethnic diversity of the neighborhood during the early part of the 20th century is clear evidence of the upward mobility and assimilation of the large immigrant population that arrived in Hartford primarily after 1850.

References

Atlas of the City of Hartford, Springfield, Massachusetts: L.J. Richards & Company, 1896.

Atlas of the City of Hartford, Springfield, Massachusetts: L.J. Richards & Company, 1909.

Atlas of Hartford City and County, Hartford: Baker & Tilden, 1869

City Atlas of Hartford, Connecticut, Philadelphia: G.M. Hopkins, 1880.

Close, F. Perry, History of Hartford's Streets, Hartford: The Connecticut Historical Society, 1969.

Encyclopedia of Connecticut Biography, New York: The American Historical Society, 1917, vol. 4, p.177 (biography of William H. Scoville).

Geer's Hartford City Directories, Hartford: Elihu Geer, 1869, and The Hartford Printing Company, 1886-1905, and 1920.

Information from the files of David F. Ransom about the following architects: Russell F. Barker, A. Raymond Ellis, Edward T. Hapgood, George Keller, Albert W. Scoville, and William H. Scoville.

The Hartford Daily Courant, January 11, 1890, 8:2 (obituary of William R. Cone); July 20, 1919, 15:4 (obituary of Burdett Loomis); and March 21, 1927, 1:2 (obituary of Albert B. Gillett).

Insurance Maps of Hartford, Connecticut, New York: Sanborn Map Co., 1920.

Kummer, Merle D., Hartford Architecture, volume 3: North and West Neighborhoods, Hartford: The Hartford Architecture Conservancy, 1978.

McAlester, Virginia and Lee, A Field Guide to American Houses, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1984.

Ransom, David F., "The Scovilles, Hartford's Master Builders of the 1890s," manuscript dated August 30, 1981 on file at the Stove-Day Foundation Library, Hartford, Connecticut.

Weaver, Glenn, Hartford — An Illustrated History of Connecticut's Capital, Woodland Hills, California: Windsor Publications, Inc., 1982.

† Gregory E. Andrews & David F. Ransom, Harford Architecture Conservancy and John Herzan, Connecticut Historical Commission, West End North Historic District, Hartford, CT, nomination document, 1984, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

See Map

Street Names: Beacon Street North, Cone Street, Elizabeth Street, Farmington Avenue, Fern Street, Girard Avenue, Kenyon Street, Lorraine Street, Oxford Street, Prospect Avenue, Sherman Street, Tremont Street, Whitney Street

**Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. You should independently verify any information you use for decision making.
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