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West Hartford’s ‘Monday Memory’

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society
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Test your knowledge of West Hartford history with this ‘Monday Memory,’ courtesy of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society.

By Ronni Newton

It’s time to take a look back into West Hartford’s past to either stir up some memories, reflect on how much things have changed, or both. And if you have no idea, we love the photo captions, too!

My apologies for missing a local history week! Somehow Monday Memory came and went last week, and then the rest of the week was all about the budget.

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Although there were a few other guesses, the Monday Memory image from Feb. 27 (at right and in larger size below) was immediately recognized by our astute local history buffs.

Rick Liftig knew this building immediately, and provided a timeline of its history as well: “There’s no mistaking this one, Ronni. That’s the Talcott School, built (I believe) in 1922 near the corner of South Quaker Lane and New Britain Avenue. After the school was closed in 1979, it served as headquarters for Coleco and later Ames Department Stores. In the mid-1990’s, Shaw’s Supermarkets proposed razing the former Talcott School in order to create a ‘Super Shaws’ in the heart of the Elmwood neighborhood. The proposal was soundly trounced and out of this came a series of charettes, sponsored by the town and held in the basement of the Faxon Branch Library. A long-term plan was devised to improve the neighborhood. Teeth were added to the plan by the creation of a ‘Traditional Neighborhood Design’ district by the Town Council. The property now houses the Quaker Green Condominiums. PS – the former school parking lot which was an eyesore was developed into a beautiful little park at the corner of South Mains Street and New Britain Avenue. Most of the park is controlled by the Condo Association. The Southern tip of the park (with the picnic table and sign) is town property. In 2007, an Elm tree was planted in that park – probably the first in fifty years.”

Liz Gillette had even more details to share: “Rick, I first met you (and many others great Elmwoodians) at those charettes. Catherine Johnson led them and opened my eyes to so many counter-intuitive concepts in town planning.(Still love town planning and traffic!)People should also know that Rick has had something to do with probably every elm tree now in Elmwood. Talcott was also in the lime light in the school re-org of the early 90’s (K-2 3-5). I had a chance to tour the building after Ames left and water damage had buckled the gym floor (which by then served as ‘the entrance’) like a brown carpeted moonscape. I still have my “What’s the Master Plan” button. While the old portion in the photo is charming, we kind of forget the sprawling, ugly, boxy, huge, ’50’s addition on the side and back, now gone. Judging by the plantings, I would put the picture as the ’40s. I think the importance of the building for me is the grassroots and town collaborations that not only influenced Elmwood Center but the whole town, and does to this day.”

Most of those who commented on Facebook also recognized this building as Talcott Junior High, now Quaker Green Condominiums, but there were a few votes for the current Town Hall building and for Plant Junior High. Several said they had attended.

Mary Beth Hamilton provided this timeline: “Talcott, vacant, Coleco (during height of Cabbage Patch craze, actually) Ames Corporate, vacant, Condos.”

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

This week’s photo (at right and in larger size below) is of a place that many of our readers should recognize.

Who knows where this is?

What is in this space now?

When was this photo taken?

Please share your memories below.

Thank you to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society for providing us with the images. They are always looking for new images to add to the collection. Visit their website atwww.noahwebsterhouse.org for more information about membership and programs.

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Talcott Junior High, South Quaker Lane, built 1922. Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

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