The former South Park Methodist Church was established in the 1870's when it was believed that an ecclesiastical society was needed in the south part of the city to complement the established First Methodist Episcopal Church downtown. In 1981, the building was put on the market to fund a new church on Farmington Avenue. Today, the building houses the South Park Inn, a refuge for the homeless.
Congress Street, which runs from Wyllys to Morris Streets, is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historical Places. Greek Revival and Italianate buildings line both sides of the street. Houses were built first on the west side of the street because here were building lots in their own right as contrasted to the situation on the east side where the frontages were comprised of the back yards of the mansions on Wethersfield Avenue. Among the early residents of these homes were Amos Whitney (33 Congress Street) and Francis Pratt (37-39 Congress Street), who partnered to form the Pratt & Whitney Company.
The neighborhood is also home to Hartford Hospital and the Children's Medical Center. Hartford Hospital was founded in 1854 as a result of community concern when a steam boiler explosion at the Fales and Gray factory at Dutch Point resulted in serious injuries and death of many who were not able to received the medical care needed for such a catastrophe. It took merely two months from the date of the explosion for the wheels of motion to move towards creating a community medical facility. The first hospital was located at a house at the intersection of Maple and Retreat avenues. It could accommodate up to five patients and was run by a husband and wife who resided there. When construction was completed in 1860 for the permanent facility, its capacity had grown to 44 patients. Today, the hospital is an 864-bed center that includes the 1140-bed Institute of Living, 104-bed Jefferson House long term care facility and many satellite facilities and programs.
Between 1870 and 1930, a building boom occurred in which three- and four-story apartment houses were constructed. Across from the southeast corner of Barnard Park still stands a 72-unit building designed by Dunkelberger and Gelman. Upon closer inspection of the details of the structure, one can readily see elements similar to those found on bridges along the Merritt Parkway, the design of which George Dunkelberger is credited.
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