The buildings are not open to the public. You many walk around them, but please be respectful of park property.
Just down the hill from the Colt family home, nestled under trees, sit the Gardener’s Cottage and the Carriage House.
Both built around 1860 along Shamrock Ave, now the walking path in Colt Park, they have undergone numerous changes over the years. But if you look closely you can still see the thoughtful and intricate designs of the buildings, imagine the gardener hard at work, and hear the horses in the stables.
From Armsmear, the family home, overlooking the Colt estate, numerous gardens and greenhouses were scattered about. Samuel was fond of flowers and Elizabeth reported that there was over a mile of greenhouses on the property. The greenhouse were ornate in their design, with fountains and statues tucked around the vibrant and worldly flowers. Four octogen rooms with rising steepled roofs and colorful windows dotted the greenhouses, providing individuals with a place to relax among the flowers.
“Cheating the seasons, and transplanting the tropics to our colder clime…you walk through them in a bewilderment of perfume, that amounts to the lusciousness of taste. Here the innumerable colors and combined fragrance of flowers from every country…”
Armsmear: The Home, the Arm, and the Armory of Samuel Colt. A Memorial
The gardener was responsible for maintaining the hot and cold greenhouse and the variety of plants the Colts grew. Aside from flowers, the greenhouses had traditional crops such as cotton, rice, and numerous vegetables. In the graperies, one walked under the plants as they climbed the walls to the glass ceilings and pineapples flourished in the pineries. Other fruits grown throughout the year included bananas, figs, nectarines, and peaches.
The gardener lived in a small red brick house tucked behind the stable and near the deer park. The building has undergone structural changes with additions and demolitions over the years. Today, ivy grows on the walls and chimney, but the arched windows and the ornate decorated eaves on the roof remain the same, reminders of another time.
The Carriage House, a red brick building resembling a garage, is located near the pools. Constructed of brick and wood, with a copula, the Colt’s horses were stabled in the wooden shed. With simple arched windows and a large stone foundation with a brick building set on top, the Carriage House was easily accessible to the Colts. Armsmear was designed with an arched entrance to allow a carriage to pass through and down to the stables. For decades the building and stables would serve the Colts before it was deeded over to the city of Hartford with the passing of Elizabeth in 1905.
1933, President Roosevelt, under the New Deal Program, established the Federal Emergency Relief Administration which later was replaced by the Works Progress Administration. Both programs were established to create jobs and fuel the economy during the Great Depression. The City of Hartford benefited from these programs and specifically Colt Park in 1934. The Carriage House saw the wooden stable torn down and replaced with a brick building. This was done at low cost to the city as much of the materials for the project were salvaged from various wrecking jobs. After the construction, the building was used for storage and still is today.
In 2008, the Gardener’s Cottage and Carriage House were noted as contributing buildings to the Coltsville Historic District which is registered as a National Historic Landmark District. In 2014, the United States Congress authorized creation of the Coltsville National Historical Park.
Last updated: April 26, 2021