The history of Hartford is strongly connected to the activities of Sam Colt and the manufacturing of his famous firearms. Colt’s wife, Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt, was a philanthropist and patron of the arts. After the death of her husband in 1862, she commissioned the architect Frederick Clarke Withers, a partner of Calvert Vaux, to design an Episcopal church as a memorial to Sam Colt and four of their children, all of whom had died within a five-year period. The church would serve the Colt armory’s workers in the industrial district known as Coltsville. In 1866 she rejected Withers’s plans and instead turned to Edward Tuckerman Potter, the architect who would later design the Mark Twain House.
Completed in 1869, Potter’s polychromatic Church of the Good Shepherd is an excellent example of the High Victorian Gothic style. It has unique features, including crossed Colt pistols and revolver parts carved in sandstone around the south “Armorer’s Door.” It also has notable stained glass windows.