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Places to Visit & Nearby Sights

The Ancient Burying Ground - Hartford's Oldest Historic Site

Next to the Ancient Burying Ground

First Church of Christ Meetinghouse (also known as Center Church)

The First Church of Christ has been a presence in Hartford since 1636. Hartford founding father Rev. Thomas Hooker was its first pastor.

The first two meetinghouses were located approximately on the site of the Old State House. In 1739 the congregation erected its third meetinghouse where the present one stands. The location was part of the Ancient Burying Ground, and the new structure was actually built over some graves. When that meetinghouse was replaced in 1807 with the current brick one, the new structure covered even more graves, with the monuments being moved.

Rev. Samuel Stone Statue

The Reverend Samuel Stone became pastor of Hartford’s First Church upon the death of founder the Reverend Thomas Hooker in 1647. He held that position until his own death in 1663, when he was interred in the Ancient Burying Ground. 

According to some sources, Hartford, Connecticut, was named in honor of Rev. Stone’s birthplace of Hertford, England. The bronze statue, a replica of one that stands in the English Hertford, was installed in 2005 through an initiative of the Hartford/Hertford Sister City group.

Stone Field Sculpture

Stone Field Sculpture, immediately adjacent to the Ancient Burying Ground, was installed in 1977.  Carl Andre, a renowned and controversial American sculptor, arranged thirty-six boulders from a quarry in Bristol, Connecticut, on a piece of city-owned land. 

The boulders are laid out in eight rows in a triangular shape, with the first row consisting of one large boulder, and the last eight small boulders. Their arrangement is reminiscent of the tombstones in the Ancient Burying Ground. Andre himself is quoted as saying that in creating Stone Field Sculpture he was “very moved by the graveyard and the peace and sanctuary it offered,” and sought to “make a kind of parallel piece and sanctuary.”

From the time of its installation, Stone Field Sculpture has been a topic of disagreement, sometimes heated, on everything from whether it can truly be considered art to its meaning to its $100,000 price tag, funded by two foundations.

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