West Hartford’s ‘Thursday Throwback’

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

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

By Ronni Newton

It’s Throwback Thursday (#tbt), and 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 Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Last week’s photo (at right and in larger size below) is clearly of a church, but one thing I have noticed is that many of the older churches in West Hartford look similar to each other, especially when they are out of context.

“The photo looks like First Baptist on North Main by Fern Street, but the two surrounding buildings are certainly not there anymore if I’m right,” commented Mike Margolis.

“That’s Farmington Avenue on the left and North Main Street at the right. Probably late 30s to mid 40s by the look of the cars. The building at the far right is all that’s left of this grouping. I don’t know anything about the two other buildings pictured here, but I’m looking forward to finding out!” guessed Paul Shipman.

Ray Petersen had some very specific details, with the information about the other two buildings: “This is the intersection of N/S Main Street and Farmington Ave., looking northwest. The building on the left is the Records Building (but it also served as Town Hall) the building in the center is the Town Hall (but was previously a Congregational Church) and the building at far right is the Noah Webster Library. This picture looks like it was probably from the 1930s.”

Rob Rowlson provided some details about the current use of the space on the far left: “This is the northwest corner of Farmington Ave and North Main Street. Today this is the location of the Veterans Memorial Park. Think former circle green space. The Veteran’s Park was constructed in the mid 2000’s with the help of a dedicated group of veterans who raised money and worker the design. This is truly a very special place in our community and the site of each Veterans Day service (11/11) since opening. The uses in the photo include the former First Church and former town hall (?) and or social services bldg.”

And Liz Gillette added the details about the current use of the building on the right: “I agree with everyone above. Was the building on the far right the town library, built by the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution)? It’s ‘Fringe’ now. I think the town library before this was built was the library in First Church. How interesting how intertwined the Congregational Church was with Town functions, for so long and not really all that long ago.”

“This is the intersection of North Main Street and Farmington Ave. The church and school administration buildings are picture where the veteran’s memorial park is on that location today,” added Giovanni Seccarecchia.

Ed Stanley did a bit of research into these buildings and came up with all the facts: “Just looked this up in my “History of West Hartford” (by William H. Hall, 1930). The building on the right was the old Town Office Building, the building in the middle was the old Town hall (previously the Congregational Church), built in 1834, and the building on the far right is the old Noah Webster Library built 1917. Sadly only the latter still stands. As posted above, this is the northwest corner of Farmington Avenue and North Main Street. Looks like they really shoe-horned in that old town hall on the left!!”

Several readers commented on Facebook, and most also came up with the correct answer. I do like this response from John Hardy about the circular island: “Early attempt at North Main Street traffic calming / road diet.”


Thank you to Jeff Murray for providing a photo comparison (above) between then (right) and now!

As for the year, the only dating of the photo that is available is “early 20th century.” David Traub guessed 1941. John Hogan thought pre-1936. The vehicles probably provide the best clue, but I’m not sure any of us will be able to determine the exact year.

Nancy McClelland Ball did say that the First Church building – in the center of the photo – was razed in 1957.

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

This week’s photo (at right and in larger size below) is a bit more recent.

Who knows where this photo was taken?

What is this building?

When was the photo taken?

What is in this space now?

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.orgfor more information about membership and programs.

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Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Northwest corner of North Main Street and Farmington Avenue, early 20th century. Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society


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  • That’s looking at the cafeteria of Conard. I’m surprised that it’s a 1961 picture as Lisa Petersen states. I guess it didn’t change much between then and 1968 when I was there. This picture was taken from the north side of the student parking lot.

  • Instant recognition! Conard High School. Looked like this when I went there. It doesn’t look like that anymore?

  • we can all agree it’s Conard….and I’ll add that I think this is the general area where the summer Hootenannies took pace in the mid 60’s. These were a regular Weds. night event…I was there frequently and my wife, Barbara, just informed me that she was also a regular….hummmm….

  • Wow! Ultra modern educational architecture (circa 1960!) I worked on the big refit committee in the late-mid 90’s, graduated in the 70’s. It’s still totally recognizable but I’m having a hard time remembering the color progression of the buildings till now, anyone remember?
    P.S. That’s a lot of gym wall! It’s only the ‘picture perspective’ thing, but ‘GE Carousel-of-Progress’, anyone?( Another ’60’s reference)Oh my goodness, I love that building – every inch!

  • P.P.S. Named after Frederick Conard, long time chairman of the Board of Education at a particularly important and pivotl time in West Hartford’s growth. A debt of gratitude is owed to him and many other dedicated, volunteer, public servants in West Hartford’s history. We have been truly blessed with the caliber, foresight and quality of our town policy leaders through the years (Rob, you included!).Sermon over.

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