Introduction to the West End Architectural Tours
The West End neighborhood of Hartford has a large and cohesive concentration of architecturally significant homes. In fact, all of the residential sectors are now on the National Register of Historic Places. Homes range in age and size from more modest dwellings of the 1870s to early 20th century mansions. Nearly every architectural style of the period can be found here, not only within elements of specific buildings designated below but throughout the residential streets of these self-guided tours.
In the mid-19th century the only east-west roads were Farmington Avenue (middle road) and Albany Avenue (Turnpike), connected by Prospect Avenue (Prospect Hill Road) running along the city’s border with West Hartford. By 1870, the area was still mostly open farmland, except for a few large estates. Post-Civil War industrial expansion and speculation inspired new housing. Early developers Eugene Kenyon and Burdett Loomis bought large tracts of land and laid out much of the present street grid. By the 1930s, most of the neighborhood was built up, growing in prestige and grandeur as many of Hartford’s most illustrious families moved here.
South of Farmington Avenue Self-guided Tour (2 connected Loops)
This section shows the various layers of development the neighborhood has undergone since the 1860s, starting with Shephard’s Park, originally a mansion, to some of the small 1870s’ residences on Sisson that illustrate fanciful post Civil War housing. These earlier styles were followed by a few later Victorians and then more typical turn-of-the-century housing, including a number of Scoville homes. This wave was partially supplanted by apartment buildings in the 1920s, especially on Evergreen where the last wave of building was completed in the 1960s.
Overview of Walking Directions
Loop A: From the parking area, go south on Sherman Street to Lorraine Street. Left on Lorraine, past a block of typical neighborhood residences, those on the east side bounded in back by the Park River. Note # 422 Farmington Avenue on North side, then cross the Ave to see # 429 Farmington, gateway to Clemens Place apartment complex. Walk South on Owen Street, West onto Frederick Street and continue West, walking through the small park to Sisson Ave, past the distinctive clock. Go South to 170 Sisson, then across the street to155-169 Sisson Avenue. Then walk North to Warrenton Avenue, go West to # 15 &,17 Warrenton. Continue West on Warrenton to Evergreen Avenue, then North to 94-95 Evergreen, and continue North to 34 Evergreen.
Note the collection of ethnic eateries on Farmington Avenue between Evergreen Avenue and Tremont Street.
Loop B: If choosing only Loop B, from parking lot, go South on Sherman Street to Farmington Avenue; then West to #573 Farmington; OR if continuing from Loop A, at 34 Evergreen walk North onto Farmington Avenue again, go West to 573 Farmington, then West to Tremont Street, go South to # 70, 64, 38 and 43 Tremont Street, then South to Warrenton Avenue again. Go West on Warrenton to # 117, continue West on Warrenton. to Beacon Street. Go North on Beacon to # 161,,188, 200 and 210 Beacon Street.
Finally, walk North on Beacon to Farmington Ave, then East to Sherman Street and North to original parking area. OR, you may choose to continue walking North across Farmington Avenue onto North Beacon Street past Cone Street to Fern Street, turning East on Fern and continuing to the parking lot. (Albert Scoville, brother of William, built 21 houses on North Beacon Street, generally more varied in styles than those of his brother, some of which are discussed below).
Loop A: Multi-Family Structures & More
1) 422 Farmington Avenue 1914
This building is part of Clemens Place, a restored 1920s apartment complex of historic landmark dwellings nestled in the heart of Hartford’s West End. Architectural features in the front elevation reflect several styles including: Neo-Classical Revival first-floor rustication and corner quoins, contemporary tripartite Chicago windows and a Spanish Colonial Revival tile pent roof. Note the Diaper Brickwork, a popular motif of the day, and the guardian lions.
The oldest buildings in the Little Hollywood Historic District (so-called because of the high concentration of attractive young working women who rented in the neighborhood in the 1920s) are located on Farmington Avenue. Distinctive buildings line both sides of Farmington and date from the period 1907 to 1919 (# 402-404, 412, 416, 422, 429-431, 435, 439-441and 445). These three- and four-story, light and dark brick buildings stand on broad, tree-shaded lawns. Designed for upper-income apartments according to established codes, these buildings vary considerably in their facade treatments. Falling into the broad category of the second Renaissance Revival style, they range in their detail treatment from Florentine arched windows (# 402-404) to a Palladian porch (# 422).
During the 1920s, two Jacobethan Revival buildings (# 419-421 and 429-431) and a modernistic building (# 408) were added to the Farmington Avenue group in the District. The Farmington Avenue buildings contain the largest apartment units in the District, with one- and two-bedroom suites, some with fireplaces, arranged along central hallways. Many of these buildings have undergone interior alterations to increase the number of units, but few have witnessed exterior modification.
2) 429 Farmington Avenue 1907-1923
The two Jacobethan apartment buildings, (# 419-421 and # 429-431) on Farmington Avenue, by their positions on either side of Owen Street, form a gateway onto Owen Street. These structures establish the building height, setback, and shaped parapet roofline theme for the buildings on Owen, Frederick and Denison Streets, named after Frederick Denison Owen, the original landowner. Variations of the Second Renaissance Revival and Jacobethan Revival styles are well represented on these streets. Swiss Chalet, (17-19 Owen Street), Mission style (35 Owen Street) and Baroque
(21-23 Frederick Street) architectural elements are also found. Built between 1919 and 1923, the Owen, Frederick and Denison streets’ buildings have less ornate facades and stand on smaller lawns than do those on Farmington Avenue.
3) 170 Sisson Avenue 1865
An example of Hartford’s popular Italianate style is the Albert Sisson
House, built between 1865 and 1867. The rich classical detailing was modeled after Renaissance Italy and includes Corinthian columns, arched and triangular window pediments of brownstone, and elaborate brackets supporting the cornice. Cast-iron balconies and a cupola crowning the roof peak are other features typical of the Italianate. Many wood, stone and cast-iron elements could, by then, be made by machine, opening the way for the ornamental styles popular after the Civil War. Albert Sisson made his fortune trading in leaf tobacco, one of the Connecticut Valley’s most important agricultural products. His estate was a rural one, in keeping with the district and included extensive grounds, a carriage house (still standing), and barns. The estate, which later became the campus of the House of the Good Shepherd, an institution for girls (now subsidized housing units), was built at the end of the rural period in the West End. Shortly after Sisson completed his house, the first steps were taken toward suburban development.
4) 155-169 Sisson Avenue 1906
During the teens, many of the builders of fine individual homes also put up two- and three-family houses in the West End, especially in the southern part of the neighborhood. William H. Scoville’s firm designed those at 155-169 Sisson Avenue in 1915. Colossal columns support triple-decker porches, giving an unusual air of monumentality to Hartford’s standard working- and middle-class house types. Their columns, balustrades, moldings and crowning pediments are Colonial Revival elements employed with Scoville’s characteristic play on scale and proportion.
5) 15 & 17 Warrenton Avenue 1898
These are two-story Shingle style frame houses with flared side-gabled roofs extending over a partial-width, one-story porch. They have an engaged tower with spire roof and a front-facing hipped dormer. The first story is sheathed in horizontal board siding while the second story is covered in wood shingles. A uniquely American form, the Shingle style was popular from about 1880 until 1900 and was typified by the application of continuous wood shingle wall cladding. Such wall surfaces were typically uninterrupted at the corners and decorative detailing was minimized, the result being an emphasis on the irregular shape and uniform exterior surface of the building itself. Such is well illustrated by the house at 15 Warrenton. While the multi-sided half-towers found on this house are less sculptural than high-style Shingle examples, the residence possesses a variety of details that are typical of the form, including an asymmetrical facade, irregular roof line, and front porch.
6) 94-95 Evergreen Avenue 1908
This is a Queen Anne style residence with Colonial Revival influences. Constructed in 1908 by John Ingle, a Hartford builder, it is a two-and-a-half-story, multi-family frame house with front-facing gable roof and projecting cross gables over two-story bays. The residence is a manifestation of a plan popular throughout the West End and the entire city during the period of its construction. It was typified by two-and-a-half-story, two-family homes with front-facing pitched roofs, cross gables, and prominent front porches. These relatively inexpensive designs provided increased living space within their gabled or dormered attic stories, which made for comfortable multi-family homes that allowed homeowners to supplement their income while enjoying the privilege of dwelling within their own residence. The house at 94 Evergreen has a three-sided bay window on the second story of the façade and a Palladian window in the front-facing gable end. There is a full-width, one-story wrap-around porch with both paired and tripled Doric supports, a gable roof, and a pedimented, front-facing cross gable over the entry. The second-story porch above has tripled Doric supports and a pedimented, front-facing gable roof. The house is sheathed in wood shingles.
7) 34 Evergreen Avenue 1900
The popular turn-of-the-century practice of mixing the Queen Anne, Shingle Style, and Colonial Revival styles in a single design was adeptly handled by William Scoville. Buildings like this one, with engaged Queen Anne corner towers, wood-shingle siding and Colonial Revival porches, are scattered throughout Hartford; Scoville mixed these motifs in unexpected ways that make his designs individualistic and identifiable. Several of Scoville’s trademarks are displayed here, the most singular being the pair of third-floor windows in the south elevation. Other Hartford architects seldom set windows on the diagonal in this way. The rounded reveals of the windows’ recess and the bowed wall surface of the gable contribute to the distinctive effect.
8) 16 and 22 Evergreen Avenue 1927-28
These apartment buildings are part of a well-designed group built shortly before the Depression caused a halt in most housing construction. The entrance treatment at 16 Evergreen is a free interpretation of 18th century Georgian antecedents, with two-story pilasters and Corinthian capitals and a blind roof balustrade topped by urns. Twenty-two Evergreen is embellished with Jacobethan Revival elements, inspired by medieval England. Note the doorway outlined with a drip mold under a small curvilinear gable.
9) 573 Farmington Avenue 1904
The residence at 573 Farmington Avenue was designed by Hartford architect Thomas C. Cote and built as a funeral parlor and parsonage for the First Methodist Episcopal Church in 1904, a year before the church itself was built. The house
demonstrates Colonial Revival massing with lingering Queen Anne features; however, early evidence of the Tudor Revival style can also be seen. This two-story, single-family frame house has a side-gabled roof, cross gable over a slightly projecting bay, and a shed roof porch with front-facing cross gable over the entry. The half-timbering in the projecting gable-ends and front-facing gable was a detail typical among Queen Anne and early Tudor Revival designs, while the use of heavy timber porch-supports was more commonly found among the later form. This being said, the home’s simple wood shingle siding, balanced façade, and centered entry give it a primarily Colonial Revival appearance.
Loop B: District of Porches
10) 68-80 Tremont Street Houses 1906-8
William H. Scoville (1869-1932), prominent Hartford architect-builder, was responsible for quite a number of houses in the West End South Historic District, particularly on Tremont Street, and his creative combination of the Shingle and Colonial Revival styles is distinctive and readily identifiable. His adjoining rows on Tremont Street of seven single-family houses (#68-80), all built in 1906, and nine 2-family houses (#2-4 to 14-16, #40-42, #44-46, #52-54 to #60, and #52-54), built in 1906 and 1908, are equally distinctive. Using the same basic, plan for each differently sized house, Scoville varied their exterior appearances widely to achieve a streetscape of much texture and diversity. For example, while each single-family house has a front porch, its appearance differs greatly from its neighbor: #68 has a pitched roof porch with partial cornice returns and paired square posts; #70, on the other hand, has a porch with a flat roof, brackets, and arched square posts with paneled spandrels. Other characteristic features of Scoville’s houses are first-floor oriel windows, paneling between the front second-floor windows, and flared, projecting roofs, whether pitched, hipped, or gambrel. Perhaps his most unusual architectural features are the oversized front dormer gable at #74 that projects over a third-floor Palladian window and the third-floor oriel window at #72 with its small, overhanging polygonal roof at the peak of the front gable of the gambrel roof. His adjacent row of 2-family houses demonstrates a somewhat lesser degree of originality.
11) 64 Tremont Street & 38 Tremont Street 1875
Two 1-story, Second Empire houses on Tremont Street date from about 1875 and are nearly identical in their massing: centered, front, and rear projecting pavilions, mansard cross roofs with concave sides and dormers, and side porches. Thirty-eight Tremont Street has clapboard siding, tall, paired front windows and picturesque porch detailing composed of turned posts and sawn braces. #64 is simpler, with stucco walls, paired, square posts on its porch, and a single, large front window with a stained glass transom.
12) 126 Warrenton Avenue 1895
Complexity in building plan and detailing, the hallmark of the Queen Anne Style, is abundantly present here in a residence that has shed its asphalt shingles and recovered its original clapboards, while above are wood shingles in alternating lengths, creating a wavy pattern. Note the under fancy brackets and shingled diamond in the center.
13) 139 Warrenton Avenue 1903
This house is one of the best examples of Shingle Style enlivened by classical details in the neighborhood. Straightforward massing, more so than the Queen Anne style, emphasizes the volume of the house. Note that the lower slopes of the gambrel roofs were omitted. Palladian windows on the west and clustered porch columns on pedestals are among its classical elements. Rare for Hartford houses is the ground floor segmental-arched window on the façade.
14) 153-155 Warrenton Avenue 1899
The individuality and impact of this Queen Anne house approach those of William Scoville’s work although clearly different. (Compare to Scoville’s # 150 Warrenton, across the street , with its flared, hipped roof and deep soffits; large, front dormer gable with an unusual, 2-sided diagonal window that has its own small flared-roof; and large shingled brackets). Here, the interplay of projecting and receding elements in the facade reaches an exclamation point in the dramatic steep front gable whose weight is supported by large curving brackets and the second-floor oriel window. Notice the use of contrasting tripartite windows, in a vertical line, to organize the design. The strong classical look of the porches, highlighted by the Adamesque swag in the pedimented gable and repeated above the oriel window, was common in many late examples of the Queen Anne style.
15) 161 Beacon Street 1904
The decline of the Queen Anne style at the turn of the century is evident in the
corner tower of this house. The low roof emasculates this archetypical Queen Anne element, which appears odd without the expected high conical roof. In plan,
however, the building remains solidly Queen Anne, with its projecting front bay under a gable roof at one corner, a tower at the other corner, and an asymmetric wraparound porch. The diamond and gothic motifs in the upper sash glazing of several windows were widely used and characterize both the Queen Anne Style and Shingle Style in Hartford.
Among the early owners of this house were attorney Benedict Holden, whose family lived here from 1904 to 1908, and William Helmond, a mechanic, after 1908.
16) 188 Beacon Street 1875
This rather simple porch frieze with quatrefoils is Gothic Revival inspired and its pyramidal roof anticipates the Colonial Revival.
17) 200 Beacon Street c.1875
This 1-1/2-story, L-plan frame house, has the steeply pitched cross gables, overhanging eaves, hood molds and sawn brackets and porch braces characteristic of the Gothic Revival style. The jerkin head dormers, restrained detailing of the gable and dormer bargeboards, and the gable cross-braces with pendants, all suggest the transition to the Stick style.
18) 210 Beacon Street 1900
This Shingle Style design, with few variations, is repeated several times in the West End. It dramatically combines building components of different shape and size, including a robust tower and polygonal-roofed dormer, whose broad, flat surfaces heighten the impact and rhythm of the irregular plan. The design effectively maintains visual unity through use of carefully related proportions and a single exterior siding material.
End of Tour — Check Walking Directions for Options back to Parking Area ____________________
Created by JoAnne Bauer (860.233.7852) and Steve Fournier, with Lucas Karmazinas and Stephanie Woodlock, from the following Sources:
Andrews, Gregory E. and David F. Ransom, Structures and Styles: Guided Tours of Hartford Architecture, Hartford, CT: Connecticut Historical Society and the Connecticut Architecture Foundation, 1998.
Hartford Architecture, Volume Three: North and West Neighborhoods. Hartford, CT: Hartford Architecture Conservancy, 1980.