The Barbour House, constructed in 1865 by Lucius Barbour (1805-1873), is an excellent example of the late Italianate Villa style on the exterior, with pristine Queen Anne trappings on the interior. While the Barbour House would be relevant based on its unique exterior design alone, the fact that it possesses a picture-perfect Queen Anne interior with individual Adamesque Colonial Revival rooms makes it a precious piece of turn-of-the-century design and architecture.
The Barbour House is the namesake of its designer, Lucius
Barbour. Barbour was born in 1805 in
Canton, CT, and made his career in Madison, Indiana. Madison was the founding place of his dry
goods business, which financed his later investment in land gained in the
Western expansion of the United States.
His land investments paid off, allowing him to build up a sizeable
fortune before he returned to Connecticut.
In 1840, Lucius Barbour married Harriet Louise Day
(1821-1886) of Hartford and afterward moved to Hartford (sometime in the
mid-1840s.) In 1865, Barbour built the Italianate Villa mansion on Washington
Street that would later come to be known as the Barbour House. Washington Street was, at the time, a major
artery known as Governors Row because of the numerous, large houses
serving the city's wealthiest and most prominent citizens, including several
governors. The abundance of ornate details found in the home's interior, mostly
comprised of Victorian design, as well as the exterior features all point to the
wealth possessed by Barbour, as well as those who lived in similar homes.
The interior of the Barbour House is particularly
well-preserved. It underwent a significant
remodeling shortly after 1890, under the supervision of Lucius Barbour’s son,
Lucius A. Barbour which involved the implementation of Queen Anne and Colonial
Revival aesthetics and design. While the
remodeled interior favors the Queen Anne style, some rooms are undeniably
influenced by the Adamesque school of Colonial Revival style design.
Lucius A. was president of the Willimantic Linen Company,
but he also enjoyed much success in the National Guard (attaining the rank of
General), served in the State House of Representatives, and was elected
Adjutant-General of the State. The junior Lucius Barbour later collated the
probate files of the District of Hartford, which led to his financing the
publication titled, Early Connecticut Probate Records, 1635-1750, edited
by Charles Q. Manwaring.
While many of the historic neighborhoods of Hartford have
retained some of their historical appearances, “Governors’ Row” has largely
faded to the modern eye, except in the Barbour House. In this way, the Barbour House stands as the
foremost representative of one of the most affluent and recognizable
neighborhoods of Hartford’s long and storied past.