Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Hartford, Capitol of Connecticut

A nice, long hike did not turn out to be in the plan for today after all.  We decided sometime last evening to drive over to Hartford to tour the capitol building.  It’s been on our “to do” list since we got here.  I’m not sure why we decided to ditch the hike and go touring instead.  Maybe we just needed to do something different today.  Maybe we just wanted to take advantage of the easy maneuverability of a small car while we had the opportunity.

Our primary goal was the capitol, but within a mile were the homes of Harriet Beecher Stowe and Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain.  There are also three different Volksmarches in the city, all beginning at the Holiday Inn across the street from the capitol.  Since the Volksmarches include maps, we made that our first stop.

Genius of Connecticut.  She used to be on the dome.

We parked in a public lot a half block from the Holiday Inn.  If we had known, there was a small visitor lot at the capitol which would have been free.  Instead, we paid ten dollars to park.  Oh, well.

After we picked up the map, we headed out to the Stowe Center and Mark Twain Museum.  Along the mile or so walk, we passed the Cathedral of St. Joseph.  It was a massive structure.  We also passed The Hartford Insurance Company.  That was also a massive complex.

We reached the Stowe Center first.  We did not take the tour of the house, but perused the small exhibit, watched the short film, and wandered around the gift shop and grounds. Next door to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house is the home of her grandniece, Katharine Seymour Day.

Katharine Seymour Day Home

Behind these two fine homes at the Stowe Center is the mansion of Samuel Clemens, much better known as Mark Twain.  Again, we didn’t take the tour, but visited the museum and wandered about the grounds.

We backtracked to where we had started and headed over to the Capitol.  The huge building was built in 1876 and is the only Victorian Gothic style state house in America.  We picked up the self-guided tour brochure and wandered around the two floors which were open to the public.  We just happened to be near the representatives’ chamber when a small school group was there on tour and we got to go inside the chamber with them.  Otherwise, we would have missed this as both chambers are usually locked.  The Capitol is quite impressive from the outside, but seemed rather small inside.  Perhaps it was because of the large amount of space taken by the central staircases.  That left rather small areas all around.  It was very ornate on the inside, typical of the Victorian style.

Mark Twain quilt

Located very near the capitol on Trinity Street is the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch built in honor of Connecticut’s Civil War veterans.   Built in 1885, it was the first triumphal arch in America.

We enjoyed our touring, but it was really too hot and humid to be very pleasant walking along asphalt and concrete next to traffic.  The air conditioned buildings were a welcome relief from the heat.  I’m glad we opted not to do one of the 6-mile volksmarches.  Just as we got in the car, it started to rain.  We are blessed, indeed.

Our nice long hike is back on the agenda for tomorrow.

That’s all for today.

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