Sign-up for our Newsletter

History of Asylum Hill

Until 1849 when the railroad came to Hartford, the majority of the area’s population lived along the banks of the Connecticut River. The railroad station defined the western edge of Hartford’s population. The farmland west of the railroad station was, until the middle of the 19th century, known as Lord’s Hill, named after one of Hartford’s original settlers, Captain Richard Lord.

In 1807, Alice Cogswell, daughter of Dr. Mason Cogswell, became ill and was left permanently deaf. In 1821, Dr. Cogswell and ten influential colleagues founded a school for the deaf on Lord’s Hill.

Original home of the school

Original home of the school

The school became “The American Asylum at Hartford for the Education and Instruction of the Deaf & Dumb Persons” and remained at its original location for 100 years. The street on which the school was built became Asylum Street, and soon, the area around the internationally famous school became known as Asylum Hill.

At the end of the 19th century, Asylum Hill swelled with new residents who worked downtown. During this period of rapid growth, John Hooker and Francis Gillette created a distinguished, aesthetic and intellectual enclave, known as Nook Farm, including residents Mark Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe, whose homes remain and are popular attractions.

Insurance companies have made Hartford the insurance capital of the world by establishing their home offices in the Asylum Hill area. This large-scale commercial growth displaced many Asylum Hill residences. Fortunately, many historic buildings remain and provide a living memory of the proud history of Asylum Hill.

Asylum Hill Neighborhood Area

AHAsylum Hill’s boundary is defined as: Westerly by the north branch of the Park River. Northerly by Albany Ave to the railroad tracks south of Homestead Avenue and Walnut Street. Easterly by the railroad tracks running to the west of Union Place. Southerly by railroad tracks from the corner of Huntley and Walnut Street, to the south of 555 Asylum Avenue, up to the intersection of  Capitol Ave and to the Park River.