Large farms covered much of the South West neighborhood through most of the 19th century.
The eastern boundary of the neighborhood is Fairfield Avenue, which runs along a natural ridge of land that is 159 feet above the Connecticut River and was once promoted as the "highest elevation in Hartford." The road was considered to be the main thoroughfare to Wethersfield and attracted leisure drivers with its sweeping vistas eastward and westward. In 1874 the Hartford Courant reported, "[Fairfield Avenue] commands from almost every rod of its entire distance a view of the Connecticut valley on the east and the fine stretch of country lying on the westa most sightly and beautiful landscape in either direction. It will make altogether the longest direct drive with unobstructed outlooks, and the most attractive too, that we have in Hartford, and that is saying a good deal...."
The Oliver Easton house was built in 1869, and was the second home on the avenue (the first being the George A. Fairfield "Weed Mansion" on the east side of Fairfield Avenue, thus in a different neighborhood).
The third residential structure built on the avenue was the James H. Smith house, built in 1901. Originally, the double house was set on 40 acres of land with outbuildings, including a carriage house, that ran up to White Street. The vintage real estate ad for a "Gentleman's Home for Sale" illustrates how the home looked at that time. The home still stands today, but with considerably less undeveloped land surrounding it.
For many years, the Weed, Easton and Smith homes were the only structures on the road, giving it a rural feeling.
|When trolley lines were established along Fairfield Avenue, New Britain Avenue and Hillside Avenue, the area saw a building boom. Near the turn of the 20th century, a state reformatory was planned for construction on the corner of White Street and Fairfield Avenue. This generated protest by those who had built homes in the area, most notably and most vocally George A. Fairfield. The reformatory was never built. In 1909, William J. Pierce purchased approximately 10 acres of land bounded by Fairfield Avenue, White Street and Hillside Avenue and proceeded to build and sell residential structures that he felt worthy of the area.|
|Today, South West is a low density residential area, inhabited primarily by middle income households who own their own homes. At its most northeastern tip lies a parkette a small triangle of green graced with an obelisk that pays tribute to area residents who served and died in Viet Nam. Each year, just before Memorial Day, an unidentified veteran places small American flags around the perimeter of the monument each flag bears the name of a fellow Viet Nam veteran who perished in the conflict.|
|Cedar Hill Cemetery is located in the neighborhood. It is an exemplary landscape-park style open space. Laid out by landscape architect Jacob Weidenmann, the chapel, gatehouse and several monuments were designed by George Keller. Several notables are buried at Cedar Hill, among them J.P. Morgan, Samuel Colt, the Galludets, and poet Wallace Stevens. Visit their website.|
Copyright Notice: ©2001-2009 Karen O'Maxfield. All Rights Reserved. All photos and graphics on this site are protected under U.S. Copyright laws and may not be downloaded or linked to without written permission of the author. Should you wish to use a photograph from this site, please contact us
Site design, hosting and maintenance by Studio O'Maxfield. Please report any bugs or problems to the web administrator.
Disclaimer: All names, dates and information have been derived from several resources. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.