Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Trinity College.
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Founded in the spring of 1823 as Washington College under the leadership of Episcopal Bishop Thomas C. Brownell, the school was established as an alternative to the Congregational-dominated Yale College and was the second college in the state. Although its founder was the Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut, the college charter prohibited the imposition of religious standards on any student or faculty member. The first campus, which was located where the Connecticut state capitol building stands today, consisted of two Greek Revival-style buildings – Seabury Hall and Jarvis Hall. Both made of Portland brownstone, the latter building was designed by Samuel Willard, the architect of the Bunker Hill Monument. Built in 1845, Brownell Hall looked like a mirror image Jarvis Hall on its exterior. A stone from that building is all that remains today of the original school.

At the annual meeting of alumni in 1844, a proposal was made to rename the school from Washington College to Trinity College, partly due to the prestige of the name associated with the college in England. In 1871, the city of Hartford wished to offer the "College Hill" property—where the school was located‚ to the State of Connecticut in order to construct a new capitol building. College trustees twice rejected the city's offer but, in 1872, voted to sell the property to the city in consideration of $600,000, with the provision that the school be allowed to use the buildings for the next five years.

The following year, a parcel of 80 acres was purchased on another hill in Hartford – one that had been known as "Gallows Hill" due to the public executions held there. The site commanded magnificent views of the surrounding area. Plans were drawn up to design a campus comprised of brownstone, Gothic-style college buildings in four quadrangles.

Those plans were never entirely fulfilled. Although Trinity College is still situated at the site to which it relocated, only one of the quads was ever built. The buildings that surround the main quad are an early example of collegiate Gothic architecture in America. By the mid-19th century, the area became known as Zion Hill.

The chapel was constructed in 1932 and designed by Frohman, Robb and Little in the Gothic style. Throughout its construction, workers removed their hats upon entering the structure and in general felt a reverence towards the project, sometimes working for little or no wages due to the Great Depression. They attended weekly services and donated a stained glass window from money they had pooled amongst them.

Inside the chapel, there is exquisite woodworking, including hand-carved pew ends sculpted by J. Gregory Wiggins of Pomfret, Conn. Each one was a memorial or gift and represents allegorical and historical scenes, people or objects.

The chapel tower features a 59-bell carillon. The cloister, south of the chapel, has embedded in its masonry, stones of historic value, including one taken from the Great Wall of China; one from Mount Sinai; another from the dungeon in which Joan d'Arc was confined; from Canterbury Cathedral and Trinity College in England, among others.

An all-male school from its beginnings, Trinity College began admitting women as undergraduates in the late 1960's.

In 1995, Trinity turned its attention to the needs of the neighborhoods surrounding its campus. The "Learning Corridor," was constructed, comprised of a public, Montessori-style elementary school, neighborhood middle school, math, science and art high school resource center to serve suburban as well as Hartford students and teachers, center for families and child care, the first Boys & Girls Club in the country to be located at a college, and a health and technology center. These resources provide Trinity students and faculty with opportunities to engage in volunteer work, internships and research projects.

Cinestudio, located on campus, is an independent film theater with a classic movie palace atmosphere. A single-screen venue with a seating capacity of a 500, it has a balcony, operational gold screen curtain and the decor features a gold lion insignia.

In addition, Trinity has developed the Hartford Studies Project, which maintains an archive documenting the city’s history since the 1880s, organizes public events such as exhibits and fora, and sponsors a course offered to undergraduate and grad students.

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Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut ©2012 Karen O'Maxfield. All rights reserved.


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