Lewis Fox Memorial Library Media Center

Circulation Desk


Fireplace and Paneling from Hopkins St. Building


Southeast Corner


Debora Mortensen, Library Media Specialist, Lewis Fox Memorial Library Media Center           (860) 695-7543

Historical Features in the Lewis Fox Memorial Library MediaCenter


I.  The Hopkins Street Office Fireplace and Fixtures.

This fireplace was originally located in the office of the Hopkins Street building of the Hartford Public High School, built in 1883.

It was basically a mantel, carved from brownstone, which was set into the wall of the main office.  The fireplace surround was composed of bricks and it had no particular decoration.  The fireplace worked for many years, and one story about it involves Thomas J. Quirk, beloved principal of HPHS from 1938 to 1962.

By the 1950’s the heating system of the Hopkins Street Building had become inefficient.  Principal Thomas J. Quirk chopped up old and broken chairs and burned them in the fireplace in order to make the office more comfortable for the secretaries in the winter.

When the new HPHS opened at 55 Forest Street in 1963, this fireplace was transferred to the library’s Memorabilia Room at the east end of the reading room.  It remained there until it was necessary to remove it during the renovations (2004-2007).

The fireplace and its fine brass fixtures (helmet, grate with animal head andirons, fender, and fireplace tools stand) came out of storage in 2007.  The fireplace was reconstructed with new bricks, and the tools stand was placed in the HPHS Archive.

II. The Cherry Paneling.

The Cherry wood paneling was made from pocket doors in the Hopkins StreetBuilding and it covered two-thirds of the fireplace wall in the school library’s Memorabilia Room when the  building at 55 Forest Street opened in 1963.

Students from the 70’s and 80’s remember the Memorabilia Room as a quiet, comfortable place to read and very often socialize.

When renovations were underway, the paneling was removed and placed in storage in the incinerator room of the school.  After a great amount of “contractor talk” and exhortations from the Museum Committee, the paneling was placed in the new LewisFox Memorial Library Media Center.  This had been planned from the beginning of the renovations, but it had been in question at one point. After the paneling was rejoined to the fireplace, the architects designed a matching crown molding which runs from the top of the paneling around the walls of the entire reading room.

III. The 1915 Mason & Hamlin Grand Piano.

This fine piano, located in the southwest corner of the Lewis Fox Memorial LibraryMedia Center, was in the Broad Street Building when it opened in 1915.  It was always used for concerts and assemblies in the auditorium of that building for almost fifty years until it was moved to the Club Room in the Forest Street Building in 1963.

Many good memories are associated with this piano, but in time it became worn down and in need of repair.

We are most grateful to members of the Class of 1957 who provided the spark needed to initiate an appeal for funds to do a thorough restoration of the piano.

Mr. Tony Hulme of The Piano & Organ Warehouse of Bloomfield raised most of the funds from anonymous donors, lovers of music, who took interest in the project. The piano would not have been restored so magnificently if it had not been for him. The total cost of the restoration was $18,000, and a reception commemorating the completion of the restoration was held at the Greater Hartford Arts Council facility in 2002.

Thanks to the generosity of all the persons involved in this effort, the piano will ring out beautiful music for the H.P.H.S. community once again:  a joyful symbol of continuity in a new chapter of history for the Hartford Public High School.

One thought on “Library

    Robert E Gross said:
    April 1, 2020 at 2:49 am

    Graduated in 1961 from the old HPHS. Lots of memories, particularly of the Hopkins St building where all of my home rooms were located. Had to move fast to the Broad Street building for a quick lunch in the basement where Mr. Quirk would sit up front keeping the boys in order. Still can hear him saying, “Alright now!!!” in his bellowing voice. Visited the museum during one of our many reunions. Very nice!

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