This museum closed in… I don’t know.
I created this website in September 2006. The intent was to visit and write about every museum in Connecticut. With that in mind, I decided back then to write about museums that closed – even the ones I wasn’t able to visit.
And I think that’s a fine decision. The only issue for me was to settle on a “closed by” date. Like, obviously I wasn’t going to write about the Children’s Museum of Danbury* that was open from 1963-1972.
*Not a real place.
But when I created my first list of museums in 2006, I included several I assumed were still open at the time. I later learned that some of them had closed before I began. But I also learned that most of them still had buildings and a story and even signage in some cases. Making them still worthy of this website in my mind.
I distinctly recall walking past the Hartford Police Museum, which was located downtown at 101 Pearl Street, innumerable times. Not only did I work in downtown Hartford in the mid-to-late 1990’s, I used to go to the clubs and bars and restaurants (and NHL games) there all the time too. Yes kids, there used to be a bunch of dance clubs and bars and even an NHL team way back then! Heck, I met my wife in a downtown Hartford bar in 1999!
Then she ghosted me.
Then I met her again in a different downtown bar a few months later in 2000.
She didn’t really “ghost” me, but my point is that I remember seeing the old Hartford police cruiser parked in the Hartford Police Museum in the 1990’s. After opening in 1994, I don’t know how deep into the 2000’s this place made it, but I’m fairly certain it wasn’t too far off of my arbitrary 2006 CTMQ start date.
Today, 101 Pearl Street is home to Spectra on Pearl – a “luxury” apartment building. The redevelopers took a nearly condemned building and made it livable and actually pretty nice looking. The 12-story structure was built in the 1970s as an office building, served as a police substation and later housed the Hartford Police Museum on the ground floor.
The museum was what you’d expect it to have been, although it claimed to be the first of its kind in the northeast. It’s whole “thing” was to be a sort of outreach community center type thing. Hartford still has a long way to go to fully realize the whole “community policing” concept, and I’m not sure how a substation in the 1990’s when only white suburbanites walked past the corner of Lewis and Pearl was going to help with that, but… that was the idea.
Yes, through a bunch of police themed photographs, literature and memorabilia detailing the history of the local police force and their role in building the community of Hartford, people were supposed to get jazzed about the cops.
The collection featured artifacts from the 134 year history of the police department and the Hartford community. The items offer a unique look into the role the force has played in the community and how officers are a vital part of safety and well-being. The memorabilia traces the history from the days of when police patrols were done on horseback. Other exhibits include Women in Policing, Training of Officers and Community Policing Philosophy. Also on display is a real police car.
The museum was secondary to the Pearl Street downtown police substation in a sense. A PR move. Hartford is a tiny, tiny city and downtown is, by far, the safest “neighborhood” – largely due to the fact that there were not too many people living in the downtown core until the 21st century. The substation and museum was opened with some fanfare, according to the Courant:
With light jazz music playing in the background, city and community leaders Wednesday night celebrated the opening of the new Hartford police substation and hailed it as a triumph for the downtown area.
“This is an extraordinary example of community spirit,” said Timothy J. Moynihan, president of the Greater Hartford Chamber of Commerce.
Michael E. Seaver, president of Business for Downtown, said, “We welcome the Hartford police back into the city of Hartford.”
The substation will serve as home to the Hartford Guides, the Hartford Police Academy, the Hartford police bicycle patrol and the traffic division. The lobby of the building at 101 Pearl St., formerly a Fleet bank site, has been transformed into a police museum, filled with exhibits tracing the history of the city police force and illustrating some of the most memorable incidents the department has handled.
“We welcome the Hartford police back into the city of Hartford what?” Hm. The 1990’s were fairly lawless as I recall. Heck, there was an after hours club like 100 yards away from this place on Lewis Street then. It was wilde. Wilde with an E. I’ll leave it at that.
There are no more after hours clubs in Hartford. Heck, there are no more dance clubs downtown. No more NHL team. No more bar scene like there used to be. (I sound so old. I’m talking about the 1990’s!) No more police substation on Pearl Street and no more Hartford Police Museum.
And in 2023, the HPD is still trying to figure out how to do community policing in an effective way.
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