The twenty-six story Hartford National Bank and Trust Building opened in 1967 with a tremendous celebration that included a parade and a special edition of the Hartford National, a local newspaper, dedicated to the opening of the new building. The construction of the building came at a time when population pressures inspired people to leave the city for the suburbs and was a response by city leaders who funded an urban renewal project downtown in hopes of getting more businesses to return to the urban core. The skyscraper at 777 Main Street ultimately served as the project's anchor.
The Hartford National Bank and Trust building is a striking example of the Modernist style, designed by internationally renowned architect Welton Becket. Constructed in 1967 during the city's broader urban renewal movement, the Hartford National Bank and Trust building stands 354 feet (26 stories) and serves as an architectural counterpoint to the historic Old State House building across the street. Though the building arose in the 1960s, the genesis of the bank occurred in 1792 on the same city block as the skyscraper.
In a contemporary urban context that produced so many generic, unadorned glass and concrete skyscrapers, Becket's skillful modeling of precast concrete forms produced a unique high-rise building, unlike any of the 30 other structures of this type built in Hartford in this period.
Hartford enjoyed a population surge in the middle part of the twentieth century, fueled mainly by immigration, reaching a near-record high of 164,000. The population explosion resulted in overcrowding and a trend towards suburban migration. As a result, the Hartford Redevelopment Agency secured federal planning funds in 1952 for "Constitution Plaza" which was designed to be the modern gateway to the city, partly to help businesses remain in the city and subsequently their employees. Some of the state's biggest banks and companies, including the Hartford National and Connecticut Bank and Trust, joined the board as principal tenants at Constitution Plaza and helped fund its construction.
The agreement by the collection of businesses to invest in the plaza inspired Hartford National Bank officials in 1962 to agree to build a new bank on the site. Completion of the building occurred five years later, in 1967; the dedication ceremony included a parade and the Hartford National (News) published a "Special Dedication Day Edition" newspaper.
Becket's use of a precast concrete wall system in the design of the skyscraper differed from other downtown buildings. Instead of the typical angular modeling favored in other prefabricated structures, Becket designed the Hartford Trust and Bank building with smoothly rounded, castings, which utilized the arched form in a curvilinear manner. The arch located at the top of the 1,900 windows serve as an accompaniment to the flatter, sloping curve found at the window sills below, which provide depth to the building.
Today, the building is known as 777 Main Street and functions as a residential building. The LEED Platinum® certified building boasts of 336 solar panels on its roof and a 400-kilowatt fuel cell that generates clean, combustion-free renewable energy to the residents among other sustainable building features.
Andrews, Gregory E. and David F Ransom. Structures and Styles: A Guide to Hartford Architecture. Hartford, Connecticut: Connecticut Historical Society and Connecticut Architecture Foundation, 1988.
Cunningham, Jan. "Registration Form: Hartford National Bank and Trust." National Register of Historic Places. April 21, 2012. https://www.nps.gov/nr/feature/places/pdfs/14000867.pdf.
Gosselin, Kenneth R. "Hartford's Bank of America Tower Gets New Life As Apartments." Hartford Courant(Hartford)September 21, 2014. http://www.courant.com/real-estate/hc-777-main-hartford-conn--apartment-conversion-be-20140921-story.html.
"Special Dedication Day Edition." Hartford National(Hartford)September 15, 1967. . http://c-8oqtgrjgwu46x24yyyx2evtdcux2eeqo.g00.courant.com/g00/3_c-8yyy.eqwtcpv.eqo_/c-8OQTGRJGWU46x24jvvrx3ax2fx2fyyy.vtdcu.eqox2fogfkcx2fogfkcx2fcetqdcvx2f4236-21x2f303457922-31386571.rfh_$/$/$/$/$/$?i10c.ua=1&i10c.dv=22
777 Main Street (2016 Photo): By Daderot - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54750499
Hartford Bank and Trust Building, 1960s with Old State House in view: Photo Credit: http://historicbuildingsct.com/