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Wadsworth Atheneum (1844)

Friday, June 29th, 2007 Posted in Gothic, Hartford, Museums | 1 Comment »


The Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford is America’s oldest public art museum. Begun in 1842, and opening its doors in 1844, the Atheneum‘s original castle-like building was donated by the museum’s founder, Daniel Wadsworth, and was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis and Ithiel Town. In addition to the museum, it also once housed the Connecticut Historical Society, the predecessor to the Hartford Public Library, and the Watkinson Library, all under one roof! Three additional buildings would be added to the Atheneum complex in the twentieth century. In 1966, the interior of the original building was completely gutted and restored, while maintaining the original facade.

Christ Church Cathedral (1828)

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007 Posted in Churches, Gothic, Hartford | 1 Comment »


Hartford’s fist Episcopal church was completed in 1795 and looked very similar to contemporary white Congregational meeting houses. Following the disestablishment of the Congregational Church as the official church of Connecticut in 1818 and the growth of the original Episcopal congregation, it was apparent by the 1820s that a larger building should be built. When Christ Church’s rector, Rev. Nathaniel S. Wheaton, was on a trip to England collect books for the Episcopalians’ new Washington College (now Trinity College), he sketched many of the Gothic churches there and, on his return, noted New Haven architect Ithiel Town was hired to design the new church in a Gothic Revival style. Town had previously designed Trinity Church on New Haven Green.

Christ Church was built in 1828 and consecrated in 1829. While the church’s overall shape still resembles a meeting house, by choosing a Gothic style the Connecticut Episcopalians were announcing their separate identity from the Congregationalists by linking themselves to the Anglican tradition. Various alterations have been made over the years by a number of noted architects. In 1919, the church was chosen to be the Cathedral of the Diocese of Connecticut. As the Cathedral is currently covered in scaffolding, the photo above focuses on the Bell Tower, which was added in 1838.

EDIT (5/30/08): I have replaced the original picture with a new one. There is still scaffolding, but more of the church is visible than in the first picture.