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Dixon Welling House003

Hon. James Dixon’s Former Home, 159 Farmington Avenue, Hartford. Photograph by F. D. Berry, ca. 1900. Samuel Taylor Collection, The Connecticut Historical Society

The gracious old house has a wide veranda and is surrounded by mature trees. In the photograph, it is autumn, and the ground is littered with leaves, but in spring, the gardens must have been a riot of color. There was a coach house, a barn with one of the first basketball hoops in the country, made out of an iron hoop from a sugar barrel. For an old man in the 1970s, looking back on his childhood, it was “Paradise Lost,” an ideal place for a boy to grow up. The house was located at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Sigourney Street in Hartford, on a large lot that sloped down to the railroad tracks. It belonged to James Dixon, who served as Senator from Connecticut during the Civil War. After Dixon’s death, his family continued to live there well into the twentieth century. Miss Elizabeth Welling, the great niece of Senator Dixon and his wife, was the last person to live there. She was the aunt of the Hartford artist Richard Welling. The house was torn down in the 1920s to make way for the new home offices of the Aetna Life & Casualty Company. My father got a job there during the 1930s, in the depths of the Great Depression, and worked as an underwriter for Aetna for thirty-nine years. My childhood home, in a wartime housing project, across the river in Manchester, was torn down in the 1950s in order to erect housing for the elderly. For many years afterwards, the flowers from my mother’s garden continued to come up. It was my own “Paradise Lost” and I still go back there in my dreams.

Mr. Veeder’s Neighborhood

As if secret panels and an in-home car wash weren’t enough to delight visitors on our monthly Secrets of the Veeder House Tours, we’ve now added new information on the rapidly developing West End neighborhood that Mr. Veeder chose as the site of his home.  Before he began building the stone colonial revival home for an estimated cost of $143,000 in 1925, the land belonged to the Goodwin family farm. The Hartford Courant waxed sentimental about the rapid development in the area in same year that Veeder’s construction began:

“It was not many years ago when out Asylum Avenue, west of Woodland Street, the rolling fields of the Goodwin estate drew much comment. To the north and south fields stretched out, lending the aspect of the country right within the city.”


In 1889, Farmington Avenue had yet to experience the boom in development that would come in the 1910s and 1920s.

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