Amos Bull House
Originally used as a dry goods store and residence in the 18th century, the Amos Bull House has also served as a hardware store, auto dealership, insurance offices, and restaurant over the years. It was nearly demolished in the 1960s, saved only through the actions of concerned Hartford residents, and has been relocated from its original location.
Backstory and Context
The red-brick house features a gambrel roof. It is a high-style urban townhouse, representative of urban architecture from the time period in larger cities (such as New York or Philadelphia), though unusual in a smaller city like Hartford. Only three other 18th-century buildings in Hartford still survive.
Amos Bull (1744-1825):
Amos Bull was born in Enfield, Connecticut. In 1766, he attempted to publish a book of songs entitled The New Universal Psalmodist, but he was unable to raise enough funds. Working as a singing master, Bull traveled around the Northeast, living in New York, Wallingford, Middletown, and New London, Connecticut, In 1788, he settled in Hartford, and his house was completed in 1789.
He ran a store out of his home's first floor, selling dry goods, linens, hardware, and various household objects. He announced in 1804 that he would open a school for Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, and in 1812, also opened a night school. Meanwhile, he continued his involvement in music, serving as the choir director at South Congregational Church. In 1795, three decades after his initial attempt, he succeeded in publishing a book of music: The Responsary, a book of common British psalms, plus 37 tunes and 12 anthems composed by Bull himself. Bull sold his home in 1821. He died in Hartford in 1825.
The house faced demolition in 1968. It was then placed on the National Register of Historic Places (Connecticut's first building to receive that honor), and Hartford residents came together to save the building. Thanks to Frances McCook, it was relocated to the Butler-McCook property, where it was then converted into the headquarters of the Connecticut Historical Commission. It filled this role until from 1971 to 2007.
After further extensive renovations (costing approximately $2.5 million) to bring the Amos Bull house up to city codes, it was opened as a community education center in 2014.
Kroeger, Karl. Amos Bull: The Collected Works. Music of the New American Nation: Sacred Music from 1780 to 1820. Vol. 1. New York: Routledge, 1996. p. xxi.