Hartford, Connecticut: Landmarks~History~Neighborhoods | Neighborhoods: Sheldon/Charter Oak.
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The Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood is significant to Hartford's history as it was the site of the original colonial settlement in 1623 as a Dutch trading post. It was here that, in 1636, the colonists laid out house lots in the South Plantation. However, the greatest influence on the development of Sheldon/Charter Oak came in the 19th century when Samuel Colt, inventor and industrialist, arrived in Hartford to build his industrial empire (more).

Another Hartford industrialist who made his mark in the neighborhood is George Capewell. In 1881, he invented a machine that efficiently manufactured horseshoe nails, and his success made Hartford the "horseshoe nail capitol" of the world. The buildings of the former Capewell Horsenail Company are currently undergoing renovation, and Capewell continues to manufacture horsenails and other products at its Bloomfield, CT facility. Both Samuel Colt and George Capewell are interred at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

At the intersection of Charter Oak Avenue and Charter Oak Place stands a monument to the Charter Oak Tree, which was over 200 years old when it came down during a storm in 1856 (more).

At the corner of Main Street and Wyllys Avenue is the Mary Borden Munsill House, once occupied by the Borden Milk heiress. The structure is an exquisite piece of architecture and is flanked by Porter Memorial Park, a public green space, and the Gail Borden Munsill House built of yellow brick just two years after Mary's house was completed.

Henry Barnard, who pioneered the establishment of the American public school system, resided on Main Street at the neighborhood's western border. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, his home still stands today and is used as transitional housing.

The Ellery Hills House was built in the mid-19th century for the shoe manufacturer. It stands as a reminder of the many graceful homes that once lined Main Street.

Street Map of Sheldon/Charter Oak Neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut

Among the churches in the area is Saint Peter's. Established in 1859 when the entire population of the city numbered less than 30,000, St. Peter's was the second Roman Catholic church established in Hartford, and its parish included the area south of the Park River as well as the Town of Wethersfield. The congregation consisted primarily of Irish immigrants. Forced to leave their homeland due to the potato famine, they came to Hartford seeking work as laborers. The present structure was designed by a New York City architect and constructed of Portland brownstone. The Star of David featured in the church's rosette window was a tribute to the friendship between Father Peter Kelly and the rabbi who led the state's first synagogue at the Charter Oak Temple.

Towards the end of the 19th century, an influx of Polish immigrants occurred. Many worked in Hartford's factories and shops, including Colt, Capewell and Emhart. The concentration of factories in the neighborhood allowed the Polish immigrants to settle along Sheldon, Governor, Woodbridge and Union streets. A second influx of Polish to the area during World War I grew the community. In 1913, the Polish National Alliance was formed to assist both newcomers and established residents and, in 1915, a new Saints Cyril and Methodius church was built on Governor Street to accommodate the ever-expanding congregation.

The Polish National Home is a cultural and social organization that was created more than 80 years ago to serve the Polish-American community in Hartford. The 1930 Art Deco building on Charter Oak Avenue contains a full-service restaurant , banquet hall and meeting rooms.

The Sports & Medical Sciences Academy is a relative newcomer to the neighborhood. It is a college-prepatory magnet school for grades 6–12 that uses a cross-disciplinary approach in its curriculum, integrating technology into all subject areas. Admission is through an application process. Another school recently located in the neighborhood is the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, an interdistrict magnet high school that offers both full-day and half-day programs for students throughout the Greater Hartford area.

When Elizabeth Colt died in 1904, she willed the majority of her estate, Armsmear, to the City of Hartford for use as a public park. Today, the park services the community with a number of athletic fields, a swimming pool, playground, a track and a spray pool.

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