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ARCH 2020 Talcott Street Church Monument and Civic Park Project 

Black Heritage Project Lesson* for ARCH 2020 Design I 


Please do not use this assignment in courses other than ARCH 2020 Design I. 


Created by Ira Hessmer, Coordinator of Architectural Engineering, CT State Community College Capital

 

This class is a second year Architectural Design Technology section. The 10-week module includes class lectures and studio design work.  The focus is learning to use architectural precedents and historical events and persons to solve an architectural problem or project. 

 

(1) Students read and analyze poetry and writings of members of the Talcott Street Church, for example the writings of Ann Plato and James Mars, and Rev. James Pennington.  

 

(2) Students study recent African American monuments, while also studying local monuments as a place-based experience in Hartford. The emphasis is to realize how certain people in our local history are marginalized or forgotten.  

 

(3) Students study the actual site of the Talcott Street Church and use the information to design and build a monument to the church and a civic park with 18 small shops on Main Street, dedicated to the history of Talcott Street Church. The existing site is a challenge architecturally, both physically and visually. The entire site is sloped, there is a 30-foot graded change from Main Street to Market Street.  Additionally, the highway exit and I-90 onramp are directly adjacent to the northern border of the project site. This adds further visual, physical, and noise issues to the design problem. 

 

Place-Based Activities include walking the site and understanding the design challenges.  The site reflects how the Black community was treated.  It is in an undesirable location prone to frequent flooding and out of view of the major buildings on Main Street.  

 

Further field trips in the city include a walk to the Old State House grounds and the Riverfront to see how traditional and more recent modern monuments are presented to the public. The lack of monuments and plaques on the history of the Black community in Hartford, especially the important American history of the activist the Black Community members of Talcott Street Church, are noted. There is no marker of the location of the church, which served as a major stop in the Underground Railroad and the first Black church and school in Hartford, whose members were also involved in the freeing of the Mendi people on trial in Hartford.  

 

*Lesson plan developed as part of the HHP’s Black Heritage Project, paid for by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. 

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