Old State House

Old State House in Hartford, Connecticut has a footprint implanted in our nation's history. Construction began in 1792 and was completed by 1796. Believed to be the product of American architect Charles Bulfinch, the building is similar in appearance to that of the Town Hall in Liverpool, England. The first story is 20-feet high and constructed from Portland, Connecticut brownstone. The second and third stories are brick Flemish bond patterned. The cornice wooden. There have been modifications to the State House since it was built. The building had neither balustrade or cupola, but the balustrade was added in the early 1800s for protection of firemen, and the cupola was constructed in 1827 with its bell and John Stanwood's statue of Justice. An original stone spiral staircase behind the northern arch was designed by Asher Benjamin and led to the second and third floors. Now, it no longer exists.

The property in which the building stands on provided a location for the nations first constitution, The Fundamental Orders, to be written at in 1639. It is believed the first convicted witch in the New England colonies was hanged there in 1647. The building was used as a state house until 1878 when the capitol building was built. A painter named Joseph Steward was granted permission to open a gallery of his portraits and "odd" curiosities in 1797 by Govenor Wolcott. Visitors from all over came to see his alleged unicorn's horn (tusk of a male narwhale), two headed calf, exotic stuffed birds, rare butterflies and insects, two headed pig, eight foot alligator and more. Originally located in the Old State House attic, the Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities was relocated across the street in 1808 to accommodate the growing interest. It remained open until Stewart's death in 1822. In 1814, the Hartford Convention was held there. It was also the location of the beginning of the Amistad trial in 1839.

Many people believe it is not only wealthy in history but contains a ghost or two. Employees have heard disembodied footsteps pacing back and forth on the second floor. There are reports of a male apparition resembling Joseph Stewart on the balcony of the city council room. He has also been seen peering down at people walking on Main Street from a third floor window. Old State House is believed to also host residual hauntings, energy being trapped in a location that plays over and over again like a recording on a tape. Witnesses have reported hearing meetings in the meeting room on the first floor. Upon inspection, the room turns up empty and silent. Meetings were common on the property long before the building was constructed which may or may not account for the residual haunting.

Despite nearly closing in 2008 due to financial constraints, the Old State House is open for tours. The Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities is located on the third floor with some originals and some approximations based on historic accounts. Website: http://www.ctoldstatehouse.cga.ct.gov/default.asp
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