Plan Updates | City News | Community Announcements

What to Watch in 2008

More than a dozen developments are expected to change the face of Farmington Avenue in 2008. Here’s what’s in the works for the avenue.

  • Pedestrians on Farmington Avenue in Asylum Hill will see more flowers, cleaner streets, less graffiti and increased security thanks to property owners who fund the Business Improvement District (BID).
  • A new police substation opened on the ground floor of the Connecticut Culinary Institute at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Imlay Street.
  • The city will be removing non-conforming newsracks (boxes that hold newspapers and advertising circulars) that have been a source of visual blight and litter.
  • More office workers will be based on Farmington Avenue as The Hartford moves into the brick colonial building at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Asylum Place.
  • Aetna is also expanding its workforce at its headquarters on Farmington Avenue. The company will move a few thousand employees into the former ING building as well as its large brick colonial building on the avenue. A newly constructed parking garage on Flower Street will accommodate some of the new staff.
  • Farmington Avenue’s first bus pullout, designed to get buses out of travel lanes when passengers get on and off buses, will be installed in front the Connecticut Culinary Institute (CCI). Its design, including new sidewalk pavers, will preview what will be built on the rest of the avenue for the streetscape project. Kudos to CCI for sharing the cost and land for the new design.
  • CT Transit will be consolidating and relocating bus stops to speed up the time it takes passengers to travel the avenue.
  • The 1970’s era KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken) restaurant will be torn down and replaced with a new model, filling in a hole in the West End commercial district.
  • Parking for customers of West End restaurants has been made available evenings (after 5 p.m.) at the rear of the lot between Kenyon and Whitney Streets known in the neighborhood as the “Kinko’s lot”.
  • Efforts are underway to relocate and expand the Mark Twain Branch of the Hartford Public Library at a location at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Marshall Street.
  • A new American cuisine restaurant at the former Roo Bar is under construction.
  • Plans for a mixed use retail and residential building at the corner of Farmington and Girard Avenues have changed. Currently the owner is working on a plan for a two-story retail development.

2006 Festival Photos

bAmerica’s Music …Celtic and Gospel roots. An old-fashioned trolley. Architectural tours. Arts and crafts show and sale.

All of this and more will be part of the second annual street festival along Hartford’s Farmington Avenue. Discover our Avenue will take placeon Saturday, June 9 from noon to 5 p.m. between Forest Street and Girard Avenue.

“This is a great opportunity to get to know your avenue, and all it has to offer,” Sally Taylor, president of the Farmington Avenue Alliance, sponsor of the event, said. “Join your neighbors for some great entertainment, good food and lots of fun.”

The festival will feature Farmington Avenue’s significant historical, cultural and artistic assets.

afternoon strollStreet entertainers, clowns, artists painting street scenes and a wide variety of activities will encourage festival goers to stroll and explore the avenue.  An old fashioned trolley will run up and down Farmington all day.

CT Transit will offer free rides on city buses traveling Farmington Avenue (E-Line only) during the festival.

Activities at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, such as horse and buggy rides, old fashioned games, period costumes and dance will give visitors a taste of a bygone era.  Stowe’s home and exhibits at the Mark Twain Museum will be open at no charge.

An Arts and Crafts Show and Sale featuring work from local artists will line the Nook Farm Green, between Woodland and Owen Streets.  

Festival goers can join architectural tours of historic homes, churches and districts in the Farmington Avenue area.  Or, the more adventurous may tour the north branch of the Park River or peek into the sanctuary of Immanuel Church.

There will be music all along the avenue throughout the afternoon at stages at Nook Farm Green (near Woodland Street) and the corner of Farmington and Girard Avenues. Performers will include the Boys of Wexford featuring P.V. O’Donnell, fiddle, John Taub, accordion, Paul Recker, “Old Time Country, and Claudine Langille, banjo and mandolin. Vocalist Tony Harrington will also perform.

Festival sponsors are: Aetna Foundation, Colonial Theater Renaissance Corporation, Ensworth Charitable Foundation, Farmington Avenue Alliance, Greater Hartford Arts Council, Hartford Advocate, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the West End Civic Association.

Festival Collaborators and Friends are: City of Hartford, Clemens Place, CT Transit, Farmington Asylum Business District, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Greater Hartford Magazine, The Hartford, Hartford Preservation Alliance, Mark Twain House & Museum, Park River Initiative, West End Civic Association and West End Community Center.

sStowe Center receives major grants for building renovation and preservation, enrichment, and educational programs

The Stowe Center at Nook Farm, located on the corner of Farmington Avenue and Forest Street, has been awarded over $800,000 from local and national organizations.

sHeaded by Katherine Kane, also an active board member of the Farmington Avenue Alliance, the Stowe Center has taken extraordinary steps to preserve its buildings and collections, while expanding outreach programs to Hartford schools.

The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving gave $300,000 to install and upgrade climate control, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, in the three historic structures on the Stowe Center’s grounds. Additional money to complete the preservation work came from a $400,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

These grants supported a project to install climate control and fire suppression systems in the Stowe Center’s three historic buildings and create environmentally appropriate storage for the material culture, library and archival collections.

sItems to be protected include Harriet Beecher Stowe’s paint box; her paintings; hand-written manuscript pages from her most famous work, Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Beecher family abolitionist correspondence; a Hadley-style chest from the Thomas Hooker family as well as other important pieces of furniture; and significant print and archival collections from Stowe as well as the extended Beecher and Stowe families.

The grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities was one of only 11 preservation projects funded nationally (four in Connecticut and three in Hartford) and is one of five named as a We the People award. We the People is a presidential initiative that recognizes model projects critical to the study, teaching and understanding of American history and culture.

The National Endowment for the Humanities also granted the Stowe Center $100,000 to fund a two-week intensive summer institute for middle and high school teachers from around the country. “Slavery and Emancipation in New England” will be an in-depth study of the economic, social and physical impact of slavery and emancipation in New England. Participating teachers will also learn innovative techniques to incorporate primary source documents in the classroom and create lesson plans that will be published and made available to other teachers. The 2005 Institute was one of 13 funded by the NEH from a pool of 44 applicants.

The Stowe Center piloted the topic of Slavery in New England at the July 2004 Summer Institute, a week-long program funded by the Connecticut Humanities Council’s Humanities in the Schools granting initiative.

sTransforming the Visitor Experience

In early 2003, the Stowe Center embarked on a multi-year program to transform the visitor experience. This program includes enhancing the House Tour, the largest education program, and changing the way the entire staff interacts with visitors. Through the support of the Heritage Advancement Program, a funding collaboration between the Connecticut Humanities Council and the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and supported by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, the Stowe Center has been able to add the position of Head Guide. In addition, the Stowe Center has focused additional training resources on the guides – including visiting exemplary heritage and social justice sites throughout the Northeast.

The second part of this initiative, supported by the Connecticut Humanities Council’s Cultural Heritage Development Fund, is training staff in presentation techniques, learning styles (especially for children), customer service and cultural sensitivity. The Stowe Center’s internal values of treating each person with dignity and respect are reinforced and extended to visitors.

ssLeadership Grant for School Programs

The Stowe Center has expanded its school programs, advancing collaborations with Hartford Public High School and other schools, through a leadership grant of $25,000 from the Lincoln Financial Group Foundation. This award, together with significant support from The Hartford Financial Services Group and other area foundations and agencies, will allow the Stowe Center to be able to continue to develop and deliver curriculum-based programs to increasing number of students.

“Having a museum design a program around our needs is a far more effective approach for educating our students than offering programs ‘off the shelf,’” said Luke Williams, a social studies teacher and Hartford Public High School archivist.


tNew Twain House Museum Honored as Nation’s First ‘Green Museum’

Just as Mark Twain’s Farmington Avenue home in the last century had features uncommon at the time - central heating, hot and cold running water and gas lighting fixtures – its new museum is at the forefront of innovative design.

A new 33,000 square foot Museum Center, opened in November 2003, has become the first museum in the nation and the first building of any kind in Connecticut to attain LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the U. S. Green Building Council.

LEED certification rates building design by looking at sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selected and indoor environmental quality. For a building to received LEED certification it must meet a long list of criteria.

tThe new center used its site location to full advantage. Museum leaders did not want to overpower the Twain House with a large building. Available land was limited and the lot was steeply sloped, so designers placed the building into the side of the hill with half of it underground. This resulted in significant reductions in heat gain and loss.

Another major source of energy efficiency was the use of geothermal wells for the predominant heating and cooling source rather than fossil fuel. This resulted is an HVAC system nearly 30% more efficient than the norm and especially good for museums which are “usually energy hogs,” according to John V. Boyer, executive director of the Mark Twain House & Musuem. Stringent temperature and humidity requirements are needed to preserve collections in museums.

tThe building uses natural light, known as daylighting, to illuminate lower levels. It is an especially effective feature of the grand staircase, whose walls are lined with humorous remarks by Twain that amuse visitors as they walk. The staircase is the primary way visitors get between floors, eliminating the need for one elevator.

Recycled and renewable building materials were used throughout the building.

Outside the Museum parking was minimized to reduce storm water runoff and pollution impact, lighting fixtures selected to reduce off-site glare and native vegetation was used to eliminate the need for an irrigation system. Boyer said the new building doesn’t even have an outside water faucet.

Boyer accepted the LEED certificate on Earth Week in April. He said the Museum’s board felt “a moral imperative to go green.” Boyer also said the design was “better for the bottom line and the spaces are a better working environment.


Farmington Avenue Road Design Wins Silver Award

aUrbitran, the firm that provided transportation engineering services for the Farmington Avenue Plan, has won a Silver Award for Excellence in Planning Studies for the firm’s work on the Farmington Avenue Plan from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC).

The Council, representing a membership of over 5,800 engineering firms, considers itself the voice of the American engineering industry.

Atma Sookram of Urbitran, who led the transportation planning portion of the Farmington Avenue project, accepted the award at a black tie reception at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on April 3.

2006 Farmington Avenue Street Festival a Success

fair boothsMusic. An old-fashioned trolley. Architectural tours. Arts and crafts for sale. Discounts on food at restaurants. Clowns, stilt walkers, jugglers, horse and buggy rides, old fashioned games, period costumes and dance. See festival photos

This was the scene on Hartford’s Farmington Avenue during a street festival on June 10 between Laurel and Whitney Streets.

The festival featured Farmington Avenue’s significant historical, cultural, artistic and culinary assets, including a birthday celebration at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. Special thanks to festival sponsors, collaborators and friends.

Festival sponsors: Aetna Foundation, Bank of America, Colonial Theater Renaissance Corporation, Ensworth Charitable Foundation, Farmington Avenue Alliance, Greater Hartford Arts Council, Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, Knox Foundation, The Hartford, and the West End Civic Association.

Festival Collaborators and Friends: Churrascaria Braza Restaurant, City of Hartford, Clemens Place, CT Transit, Dishes, Farmington Asylum Business District, Greater Hartford Magazine, Half Door Pub, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford Children’s Theatre, Hartford Proud & Beautiful, Laurel Corner Gardeners, Ichiban, Mark Twain House & Museum, Richard Cohen, Eliot Gersten, and Phil Schonberger, Tisane Tea & Coffee, and West End Farmers Market.

discoverDiscover our Avenue
Street Festival on June 10, 2006

Farmington Avenue’s first street festival will be held on Saturday, June 10 from noon to 5 pm. Organized by a number of avenue groups, Discover our Avenue is an event to showcase the architectural, cultural, artistic, historical and culinary treasures of Farmington Avenue.

Click here for a schedule and map of event activities.

People will be encouraged to stroll or ride a vintage trolley along a three quarter mile stretch of Farmington Avenue between Whitney and Laurel Streets. Festival goers may also explore all the activity centers by hopping on a frequently passing city bus that will be offering FREE rides along Farmington Avenue during the festival.

The event will be scheduled on the same day as the Harriet Beecher Stowe Birthday celebration (located at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Forest Street). Activities planned at the Stowe Center include: Victorian games, living history exhibits, period dance demonstration and instruction, carriage rides in a horse-drawn carriage and lawn performances including:  Hartford Metropolitan Youth Choir, Bristow Big Band (jazz), Hopewell Concert Choir (gospel) and Tierra Mestiva (Spanish).

bannerThe day will feature live street entertainment, an interactive experience for 7-11 year old children, Raise Your Voice, at Hartford Children’s Theatre, walking tours of Asylum Hill and Nook Farm organized by the Hartford Preservation Alliance, Park River tours, an open house at Clemens Place, live music performances for a youth audience, an arts and crafts show, an antique car display and snacks at avenue restaurants that will please every palate.

Festival goers can enjoy conga drumming on Braza’s patio where there will be specials on grilled meats (linguisa sausage, chicken wings, flank steak) and Brazilian cheese bread. The Half Door will have Irish music along with pub food and a wide variety of imported beer. From 2-3 p.m. Ichiban will have a sushi and Korean food demonstration outside its restaurant.

A key element that will provide connectivity among avenue venues will be a sidewalk art and crafts show, strategically located along the avenue. Brilliantly colored 20-foot banners will be attached to street light poles to visually connect activities along the avenue.

The festival is designed to appeal to all ages. It will provide an opportunity for people who live and work in the Farmington Avenue area to discover the rich assets of the neighborhood.




© Copyright Farmington Avenue Alliance
Site Design and Hosting by NETPLEX