“The Second Oldest Secondary School in the United States” Since 1638.
“We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation”
(Samuel Clemens, the Public Education Association, NYC Lyceum, November 23, 1900)
Daughters Olivia S. and Clara L. Clemens attended HPHS from 1887 to 1889.
Please visit the History Page.
Views of the Hartford Public High School Museum & Archive
Looking into the Archive
Thomas Hooker was the Founder of Hartford and established the Latin School which evolved to become the Hartford Public High School in 1847.
Sophia Stevens was a teacher. J. P. Morgan attended HPHS from 1848 to 1850. Ms. Stevens was one of his teachers.
Dean Keller painted two of the portraits in the school Media Center.
George Keller was the architect for the 1883 building on Hopkins Street.
All the others either attended or graduated from HPHS.
Thanks to Dan Dimancescu, ’60, for creating this photographic collage.
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Art, Science, and the Fossil Collection are on the “Featured Items” Page of this website
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THE CHARLES W. WALKER PLANETARIUM
The Charles W. Walker Planetarium at the Hartford Public High School was added as a component to the Science Department at the school in 1962. The Planetarium and the Alvan Clark Telescope in the Observatory were called the “HPHS Space Center.”
The Planetarium fit into the high school’s Earth Science Program, and it was popular with elementary school teachers who often brought their classes to see the shows.
Without a director for the two facilities and due to budget cuts during the renovations in 2005-2007, the planetarium was “mothballed.”
After 22 years, the diligence of the Facilities Department and generous donations from alumni and friends of the school finally succeeded in making the necessary repairs, and we were able to present a show in the renovated planetarium on February 18, 2022.
NEW DIGITAL COLLECTION OF PHOTOS OF FORMER HOPKINS & BROAD STREET SCHOOL
The Hopkins-Broad St. complex of the Hartford Public High School was demolished almost sixty years ago. Architect George Keller’s 1883 building and 1897 addition was the finest example of his work, but most of the brick work and brownstone trim ended up in landfills or embankments along the Connecticut River.
Loring Studios of Hartford was commissioned to photograph the exteriors and interiors of the school buildings in 1962-1963, and the 235 original images were sent to the Forest St. building. They are conserved in the HPHS Museum & Archive.
The images were digitized in 2020 and are now displayed online in the Connecticut Digital Archive. Go to the site, click on “All Collections” at top right, and go to the second page of thumbnails. Hit the thumbnail for The Hartford Public High School Museum.
Enjoy the views of Hartford Public High School in its original setting and a beautiful, nostalgic piece of Hartford history.
“The Big Move” 1963
I was a freshman during the last year in the school on Broad Street. During my freshman year I was recruited to be the chemistry lab assistant in training to a graduating senior. As such, I spent many happy after-school hours in the chemistry lab working for the two chemistry teachers, Mr. Wolcott and Mr. Arnold.
And then in the summer of ‘63 I helped in the move to the new school on Forest Street. We packed up the old lab, throwing out many old and antique items, keeping only that which was worthy to be taken to the new lab. And then operations moved to the new school where we unpacked and set up the new chemistry labs. I remember how fresh and new everything smelled, how there was a new Bunsen burner at every station, how there were new cabinets for chemical storage, new cupboards, and so on. I was very proud to have my own desk in the chem lab and a key. I would open the classroom doors in the morning before either of the teachers arrived, and would close up in the afternoon. For all this I was paid $.75 an hour!
For years I had mementos from the old lab, including a tile from one of the experiment stations, and a couple of old scales. But they are lost now.
To me, it was a great crime that the new highway caused the demolition of the old school. Students were very fond of those old buildings. I remember marveling at the stone stairways between floors, how the steps were hollowed out by the footsteps of countless students. I remember the dinosaur track displays, the observatory, the bridge/walkway between the two buildings. Hartford did its share of destroying its architectural heritage. In later years I lived in New Haven, which was also greatly damaged by so-called “redevelopment”, and the coming of the highway.
David Hodges, ‘66 February, 2021
On Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016, I was helping out with our team of volunteers at the HPHS Museum. While there, we often have great opportunities to connect with alumni from other years and to share memories about our old neighborhoods and mutual friends.
I became personally involved with two gentlemen, graduates of 1974 and 1976, who were visiting the Museum for the purpose of looking at their class books. Neither gentlemen could recall what happened to their personal books but became totally enthralled with their review of the collection of friends they shared while going through Hartford Public High as they flipped pages to find names and faces they knew so well. Their visit became personal for me when I learned one of the visitors was the son of a good friend of mine as I began my business career. When the association was determined, our visitor dialed his Dad and we shared hello’s and briefly brought our lives current as any old friends can do.
A search of our surplus class books was made and I was able to locate two additional copies from their respective classes. Our visitors quickly made the purchase of the two books which happened to be surplus copies on reserve in the Archive. The old classbooks have taken on a new life in the eyes of these two gentlemen who quickly found friends, cousins and other relatives while also identifying the many classmates who are no longer with us. The Museum is the recipient of the funds donated towards the purchase of the old class books and funds will be used to promote activities and improvements the museum does so that the doors are always open and alumni as well as current students can see how things were in our “old days”!
Ron Kehoe, ’57
The Stuart Munro-Lenox replica George Washington is on display in the school’s Lewis Fox Memorial Library Media Center. After a fifteen year effort, the portrait and frame were restored and finally placed on display. A ceremony on May 10, 2012 was attended by 120 people who celebrated the restoration of the portrait and the facilities of the Lewis Fox Memorial Library and the HPHS Museum.
The HPHS Museum & Archive is managed by volunteers. All restoration and conservation work is made possible through donations.
If you would like to make a donation, please make the check out to “HPHS Alumni Association/Archive Fund” and mail to:
R. J. Luke Williams, HPHS Museum & Archive, 55 Forest Street, Hartford, CT 06105.
The HPHS Alumni Association, incorporated by the Connecticut General Assembly (state legislature) in 1889, is a tax-exempt 501(c) 3 account.
The 1963 Commemorative Print of the Hopkins-Broad Street Buildings
Adrienne Gale, ’98, has produced beautiful copies of Helen Hazelton’s print which was originally created for the commemoration of the school’s 325th Anniversary in 1963. Ms. Gale is the owner of Hartford Prints, her studio at 56 Arbor Street, where she has an after-school program for HPHS students.
Prints are still available for purchase as a donation to the HPHS Archive Fund, the fund used to restore and conserve the collections in the HPHS Museum & Archive.
The prints are unframed and measure 14” x 14.” The color choices are as follows:
Blue ink on smooth off-white paper. $25
Blue ink on textured white paper. $25
Silver ink on blue paper. $75
If you would like to reserve one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Museum phone: 860 695-1405 to arrange details. Unfortunately, we cannot do mailings.
Views of the Renovated Hartford Public High School
The school’s original 1883 Owl, carved in the studio of Albert Entress in Hartford, was removed from the building during the renovations in April, 2006.
He was taken down by the firm of Beij, Williams & Zito, given a sealer, and stored in their Hartford facility.
The 1883 Owl is a rare piece. Although many figures have been carved in brownstone, carvings of animals and birds are quite rare. Because of its age and the porosity of the stone, our Owl is too fragile to be returned to the exterior of the building. Thus, replicas have been provided for the gables.
Finally, on January 6, 2010, the Owl and his 1963 pedestal were placed high on the south wall of the new main lobby. After 126 years, he has finally come inside.
HPHS is a comprehensive neighborhood school with open enrollment. There are three pathways leading to graduation:
Nursing & Health Sciences.
Engineering & Green Technology.
Law & Government.
The Main Number for the school: (860) 695-1300
Webmaster of this Site: email@example.com
The HPHS Museum & Archive
The HPHS Museum & Archive is a Unique Feature of the Renovated HPHS. It is the Only One of Its Kind in a Public High School. The Collections Include: Antique Science Apparati, Antique School Furniture, Paintings, Photographs, Engravings, Statuary, Scrapbooks, Memorabilia, Classbooks, Books by Alumni and Teacher Authors, Old School Records, Trophies, and Historical Documents.
There are a number of surplus classbooks available for some years.
If you are interested in a classbook or would like to visit the Museum, please contact Mr. Williams by email or telephone. There are no regular hours when the Museum is open, but generally a visit can be arranged on week-days. Closed in July and August.
Museum telephone: (860) 695-1405
The Joseph Hall Observatory and Charles W. Walker, Jr. Planetarium
Joseph Hall, Principal of the Hartford Public High School from 1874 to 1893, collaborated with architect George Keller in the design of the school building which replaced the 1869 building designed by George Gilbert after it was destroyed by fire in 1882.
The building which Keller designed stood at 39 Hopkins Street and was a “school which in architectural beauty and in completeness of equipment was far in advance of its time. This was particularly true in regard to the facilities for teaching science.” The school had a chemistry laboratory and a science lecture hall that surpassed those of most colleges and all public schools in that day. It was during Hall’s tenure as principal that the school became a leading high school for science in the United States .
The observatory housed the Alvan Clark telescope, a fine instrument produced by the firm of Alvan Clark and Sons in the 1880’s. Clark began creating telescopes in Ashfield , Massachusetts in the 1840’s, and the 26-inch lens at the United States Naval Observatory in Washington , D.C. is one of his larger works. Almost every large observatory in America and many throughout Europe housed Clark telescopes. The school’s telescope is one of the scientific treasures of the Hartford Public High School and it is part of a collection of late 19th and early 20th Century science equipment, particularly for Physics classes, which has been saved over the years.
The observatory and telescope would have been lost if it had not been for the combined efforts of students and faculty who worked to have them preserved. In an effort which began in 1958, teachers Harold W. Gale, Charles W. Walker, and students Ernest Mackinnich, ’65, William Domler, ’65, Tom Walsh, ’60, and Donald C. Johanson, ’61, succeeded in saving the observatory and telescope from the wrecking ball. The observatory and telescope were placed atop the new Forest Street building in 1963.
“The Clark was saved when Mr. Walker told me there were plans to accommodate it in the new high school. Tom Walsh (’60)…and I organized a campaign to save the telescope. We attended board of education meetings and spoke out, solicited letters from astronomers at eastern universities and wrote letters to the editor of the Hartford Courant.” (Donald Johanson, ’61, email, June 15, 2007).
In the mid-1960’s a planetarium was added to the school. Charles W. Walker, a science teacher appointed to direct the planetarium, developed provocative programs which were presented to the school community for over twenty years. In particular, the planetarium was popular with elementary school teachers who brought their classes to HPHS for planetarium shows.
Unfortunately, both the Joseph Hall Observatory and the Charles W. Walker Planetarium fell into disuse in the 1980s, victims of budget cuts at the Hartford Board of Education. As of 2021, the physical spaces of both the Planetarium and Observatory were restored.
The Planetarium had its first show in over twenty years on February 18, 2022.