Q. Who is Sisson Avenue in Hartford named for? F.M., Vernon.
A, Sisson Avenue is named for Albert Lee Sisson, born Nov. 8, 1817, in Bloomfield. His life has not been as well documented as that of his younger brother Thomas Sisson, a prominent Hartford businessman with a 64-year career in the wholesale drug business.
Albert Sisson had some measure of success, however. He built the Sisson Block at the corner of Main and Sheldon streets, where he operated a meat market for several years. The building stood near the old stone bridge that crossed the Park River. Now, the Hartford Public Library sits east of the bridge and over the Whitehead Highway, under which the Park River still flows. The First Company Governor's Horse Guards once occupied the third floor of the Sisson Block.
Albert Sisson served on Hartford's board of selectmen. During this time, he lived on Main Street, just south of Central Baptist Church, where he was an active member. He married Ellen Lucretia Miller in 1845. She died in 1848. He married Mary Ann Gorton in 1852. They had six children: Mary, Albert, Frederick, Charles L., Carrie and Florence.
In the mid-1860s, Albert Sisson built a 14-room brick mansion on 20 acres on what was known then as Hubbard Street or Hubbard Avenue. He helped found the Asylum Avenue Baptist Church, which was built in 1872. Hartford honored him by renaming Hubbard Street. Sisson Avenue first appeared in the city directory in 1873.
Albert Sisson died in his sleep on Oct. 4, 1886, at his home at 170 Sisson Ave. He had retired seven years prior to his death and had been ill for several years with heart and kidney problems. Despite falling on hard times financially, he was known as a responsible man with fine personal qualities. One obituary stated that he made a "manly and honorable" attempt to pay his debts.
Sisson's wife died at home in 1898. In 1902 the cathedral corporation of the Hartford diocese purchased the homestead and opened a hospital for scarlet fever patients. Later, the Sisters of the Good Shepherd operated a home for wayward girls on the site. It is now the site of a housing complex for senior citizens.
Information also is available from the Connecticut Historical Society.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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