WTF, or What the Frank

Start The Tour

279 Farmington Avenue

41.76762 x -72.68922

285 Farmington Avenue

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Tour Details

The in-person tour is never the same -- it follows the tour guide as he meanders through the neighborhood, and it goes as far as he can in 45 minutes. Stories along the way tell the tale of Asylum Hill's past, present, and future, and in-person it hopes to engage the participants and to gather their impressions of where the neighborhood's been and where it's going. These days, the tour typically starts where the guide lives and then heads out from there; the virtual tour now follows suit.

Niles Street Community Garden

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88 Hawthorn Street

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Childhood home of Katharine Hepburn

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Jones-Plimpton House

41.7687 x -72.69392

Tour Guide

Frank Hagaman is the retired executive director of Hartford Preservation Alliance, a committed historic preservationist, and an experienced not-for-profit housing developer. He's currently on his second go-round in Hartford, having lived in Frog Hollow in the 1980s before moving to Indianapolis. He returned to Hartford in the 2010s and moved into Asylum Hill, which he continues to call home.

Tour Stops

Stop #1: Regency, 31 Woodland Street, condominiums that have become a favored location for retired Hartford luminaries, including Frank.
Stop #2: Town and County Club, 22 Woodland Street, originally the home of an executive of The Hartford, it's now a private women's club that hosts private social events.
Stop #3: Immanuel Congregational Church, 370 Farmington Avenue, originally the Pearl Street Church before it moved to become the Farmington Avenue Church, then merging with the Park Church (formerly the North Church, aka Horace Bushnell's church) and changing its name to Immanuel. It's also Frank's church.
Stop #4: Mark Twain House, 351 Farmington Avenue, home to the Clemenses after Sam signed a contract with a publisher here in Hartford, it's now Hartford's most famous tourist attraction.
Stop #5: Katherine Day House, 341 Farmington Avenue, a descendant of Harriet Beecher Stowe who rallied to save both Harriet's and Sam's houses, it's now the offices for the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.
Stop #6: Harriet Beecher Stowe House, 77 Forest Street, the second home of Harriet in town (the first being Oaklawn, which was farther down Forest Street), it's now a tourist attraction that focuses on Harriet's commitment to social justice.
Stop #7: 293 Farmington Avenue, currently apartments, its history reflects how Hartford has changed along with the needs of its population over the centuries.
Stop #8: 285 Farmington Avenue, probably (?) associated with Newton Case, who played a prominent role in the history of the Hartford Seminary, it is now being considered for re-development as an owner-occupied home.
Stop #9: 279 Farmington Avenue, also being considered for re-development as an owner-occupied home.
Stop #10: Comet Diner, 267 Farmington Avenue, one of the few remaining stainless steel diners in the country, this was also the Aetna Diner, Oasis, and Pancho's (in the basement), and once it was even a hang-out for Goths before it had a run of short-lived restaurants.
Stop #11: Jones-Plimpton House, 115 Sigourney Street, built by Samuel F. Jones, a prominent 19th century defense attorney, on the back of his property, it became the home of his widow, daughter, and son-in-law, who was James Plimpton, a president of the Plimpton Envelope Manufacturing Company that created Plimpton's, a stationery store in West Hartford that closed in 2014.
Stop #12: Dunn-Waterman Building, 117 Sigourney Street, built on the former estate of Pliny Jewell (actually on one of his three driveways), it may be the first apartment building constructed in Asylum Hill and definitely stands at the neighborhood's transition from a neighborhood of homeowners to a neighborhood of corporations and renters.
Stop #13: Nile Street Community Garden, 17 Niles Street, on land once owned by Aetna and then donated to Knox Parks, it is a popular place to gather and garden during the late spring and summer.
Stop #14: Saint Francis Hospital, 1000 Asylum Avenue, on land once owned by the Collinses, the building here was originally the National Insurance Company headquarters before it was acquired by Saint Francis Hospital.
Stop #15: Grace Lutheran Church, 46 Woodland Street