The History of a Street…

1.Curtis Veeder House, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford. Connecticut Historical Society collections, 2011.201.0.2 [South elevation].

1. Curtis Veeder House, 1 Elizabeth Street, Hartford. Connecticut Historical Society collections, 2011.201.0.2 [South elevation].

 As you walk or drive down any given street, you may wonder what stories it tells, who lived there, and what may have occurred there over time. What lies beneath a street? It seemed fitting to ask this question with Elizabeth Street- home to the Connecticut Historical Society since the 1950s – in mind.

Formerly called Bingham Street, Elizabeth Street was named after Elizabeth Pond by her husband, the Honorable Charles M. Pond, in the early 20th century. The street was planned in 1905 to extend from Beacon to Whitney Streets, and ultimately (by 1916) to Asylum Avenue from the eastern side.

In the early 1900s, the area was to be considered “one of the finest residential sections of Hartford”, as new developments on a 30-acre property would later become the Hartford Theological Seminary. The Seminary would be located on Sherman Street, directly adjacent to Elizabeth Street and Girard Avenue. It was reported that the surrounding streets would be broad enough to accommodate the traffic amassed by Elizabeth Street. Plans for extension also ensued in 1937, when the City Plan Commission proposed extending Elizabeth Street through Elizabeth Park (also named after Mrs. Pond). Discussions were later delayed, as some argued against disturbing the park in order to expand.

Elizabeth Street has been home to the likes of residents from various backgrounds, from the elite to the philanthropic. Charles L. Goodwin, former Hartford merchant, established a fund at the American School for the Deaf in honor of his brother, George R. Goodwin. The former Goodwin’s home was located on 181 Elizabeth Street. Dr. Harold F. Taylor, associate medical director for Aetna Life Insurance Company, resided on 145 Elizabeth Street. Dr. Taylor was a Vermont native, but worked at Aetna from 1929-1941, and focused in cardiology. Margaret Louis (Vanderbeek) Barstow, resident of 165 Elizabeth Street, was elected president of Parnassus on Wheels, Inc., an organization “designed to improve the status of prisoners”. The organization vowed to do so by offering wages and university extension lectures in Connecticut jails. Mrs. Barstow’s husband was Dr. Robbins W. Barstow, president of the Hartford Seminary Foundation.

When homes sold from one resident to another, appealing features such as a slate roof, “sleeping porch, “cold room” or multi-car garage were reported. While CHS does not own many photos of Elizabeth Street, we do have select architectural drawings for at least one of its homes, some of which are pictured. You can find detailed records for the Veeder and Wilcox homes online at eMuseum. The next time you pass through an intriguing street, consider that you never know what interesting tidbits you may find if you take some time to look.

 Sierra Dixon is a Research & Collections Associate at the Connecticut Historical Society

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