West Hartford’s ‘Thursday Throwback’

Courtesy of Ray Petersen

Test your knowledge of West Hartford history with this ‘Thursday Throwback,’ courtesy of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society and Town Manager Ron Van Winkle.

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!

Courtesy Town Manager Ron Van Winkle

Last week’s photo (at right and in larger size below) was the final contribution from Town Manager Ron Van Winkle’s personal archives. Friday, June 30, 2017 is his last day as town manager before retirement!

I thought this image would be fairly difficult to identify, and there were certainly a wide range of guesses, but plenty of people got it right. Here are some of the comments:

From Gordon Clarke: “I have no idea where the picture was taken, but I’m guessing it was before September but in 1955. My wife and I were engaged and working in Hartford, and ended up walking home to West Hartford during this flood. We were married on September 3, 1955.”

Jon Lansberg commented: “I think we are looking across Buena Vista Rd. towards Bridlepath Elementary school. Now there is a putting green and a little pond next to Cornerstone Aquatics. There is a section of Trout Brook there that floods whenever there is a heavy rain. The station wagon looks 1960s.”

There were plenty of comments on Facebook, too.

“Buena Vista pond by the Golf Course, Rink and Cornerstone Pool … The stream that feeds the pond flows under the road and it appears it’s backed up so it’s flooding the area,” commented John Maloney. Nancy Taylor agreed, and said she recalled it flooding a lot in the 60s and 70s, and also remembered skating there as a kid.

Mary Conran Smith and Gary Larkum also thought it was Buena Vista.

“A flooded Spicebush Swamp looking east towards Mountain Road?” thought Biff Mellon.

On the “You knew you grew up in West Hartford if …” Facebook page there were quite a few guesses as well. Many thought it was Buena Vista, with the date ranging anywhere from the 1970s to 1980s.

Buena Vista, 80’s? Based on newer bridge, but perspective is from the base of the hill next to Cornerstone. 80’s because of the one boxy station wagon and older power pole,” commented Tom Newton (Editor’s note: We will at some point figure out if he and my husband are distantly related). To which Hank Chilton added, “Yeah I’m with you Tom. Early 80s, Buena Vista pond from Cornerstone Parking Lot, looking at Bridle Path Elementary. About the time you drove us into a telephone pole by Wood Pond on a Saturday morning after Conard Swim practice!”

Trout Brook/Asylum, Trout Brook near Beachland Park, Elizabeth Park, flood of 1955 in Elmwood, Mill Pond, quite a few votes for Fernridge Park, and King Philip were some of the other guesses.

John Maloney had added his comments to We-Ha.com’s Facebook page, but after he saw the comments on another Facebook page he added the following: “It’s the Buena Vista pond folks … I emptied those trash cans,stained the bridge, mowed the grass, put no skating signs on the crooked post, cleared the ice of snow when the pond froze, put irrigation suction lines in the pond for Golf Course irrigation etc etc….”

John used to work for the town, and he is correct about the location, but it was Jimmy Brennan who provided the most detail: “That’s the pond in front of Cornerstone Pool and Buena Vista Golf Course (Trout Brook is on the left under the bridge). This is likely taken before the culvert under Buena Vista Road was reconstructed circa 1991, since the area is obviously flooded. Coincidentally, Cornerstone Pool was remodeled and expanded around the same time. The building in the background is the current Solomon Schechter School, or possibly then known as Bridlepath Elementary School, depending on the timing of the photo. The power lines in the foreground once fed Stanley Works in New Britain from their dam in Windsor, but were taken down in the 1990s.”

We don’t always know the exact date of Throwback Thursday photos, but this one had the date written right on it: Jan. 30, 1990. The handwritten caption on the photo also says “Troutwood Pond looking north to Buena Vista Road,” i.e., what is now the small pond on the Buena Vista golf course before drainage work was completed.

Courtesy photo

This week’s image (at right and in larger size below as well as at the top of this column), was contributed by a reader. I’ll reveal who it was next week, since giving the credit now might give away what this is.

Who knows where this photo was taken?

When was the photo taken?

What are the buildings?

What is in this location today?

Please share your memories below.

Thank you to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, Town Manager Ron Van Winkle, and this to-be-named contributor for providing us with the images. The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is always looking for new images to add to the collection. Visit their website at www.noahwebsterhouse.org for more information about membership and programs.

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Courtesy photo

‘Troutwood Pond’ on Buena Vista golf course. Jan. 30, 1990. Courtesy Town Manager Ron Van Winkle

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    • still waiting for an answer to the picture of the horses all lined up on what Ii think is Park Rd….the house that was moved to Washington Circle is now A C Peterson’s…the man holding the reins of his horse is A C Peterson himself.

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