The building which is today New Britain’s City Hall was first opened in 1886 as the Hotel Russwin. Financed by Henry E. Russell and Cornelius B. Erwin, it mainly served the numerous salesmen and clients of the Russell and Erwin Manufacturing Company, makers of architectural hardware. The Italian Renaissance Revival design was created by Joseph Merrill Wells of McKim, Meade & White (Wells was Stanford White’s principal assistant). Wells was a pioneer in the use of terra cotta detailing, as displayed on the Russwin Building. The same firm was hired in 1907 for the building‘s conversion into City Hall that took place in 1908-1909. An addition to the building was completed in 1992. On either side of the Russwin are two other nineteenth-century buildings that were later incorporated into the City Hall. The building on the right/west side was built c. 1860 as the New Britain National Bank (the Bank later moved to a new building next door). The building on the left/east side was built c. 1870 as a U.S. Post Office and served until a new one was built in 1911.
Hotels, New Britain, Public Buildings, Renaissance Revival
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