Q: What historic structure used to stand near Albany Avenue and Irving Street in Hartford? L.J., Hartford.
A: The building in question has been gone since the mid-1900s, and we were tempted to dismiss the question as impossible to answer - our reader had been wondering about it for more than 40 years - but the Connecticut Historical Society and the Hartford Preservation Alliance helped us uncover a few facts.
The Jonathan Goodwin inn and tavern stood on the site. The white-frame Greek Revival building was built in 1810 for Goodwin, who bought the land in 1783, and his brother James Goodwin. Jonathan Goodwin's son James Goodwin, grandson Major James Goodwin (born in 1803) and great-grandson James Junius Goodwin, who died on June 23, 1915, subsequently owned the property and lived there. The Goodwins were descendants of Ozias Goodwin, one of Hartford's founders. Family members held large tracts of land in and around the city, including several parcels on Albany Avenue.
The tavern was one of three hotels on Albany Avenue, or the Albany-Hartford Road. The others were the Wadsworth Tavern at the end of Prospect Avenue and the Adams Hotel at the corner of Blue Hills Avenue. In the 19th century, stages ran from Hartford to Albany via Albany Avenue, and all freight and produce from the west came into Hartford via Albany Avenue. Travelers stopped at one of the three houses to eat, drink or spend the night, instead of traveling into the city. Major James Goodwin also operated a stage line on the site and eventually controlled all stage lines coming in and out of Hartford. The Goodwin Tavern also was a place to trade horses and mules, many of which were shipped to the West Indies. The tavern sign was a lion, most likely in honor of the ship, the "Lion," that brought Ozias Goodwin to America. The sign is now at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.
James J. Goodwin's estate sold the property in 1922. In 1936, the Society of the Descendents of the Founders of Hartford identified the Goodwin Tavern as among the city's oldest buildings.
Our reader thought that the building was dismantled and perhaps relocated, but the preservation alliance has no record of that happening.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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