Adorned with an iconic bronze statue, this historic Hartford building was constructed in 1895 and was once the location of Fowler-Huntting Fruit and Produce. The building is now home to the Russian Lady Café, a name that references the ornate stature that adorns the top of the building. One of the most unique structures on Ann Street in Harford, this building is Tucked away between the Masonic Temple and the 1912 Morse Building, A close inspection of this structure reveals artistic, architectural, and historical relevance that could otherwise go unnoticed between the imposing buildings on either side.
Located next to the five-story Morse Building and the ornate Masonic temple, this historic building has served as a popular café known as “The Russian Lady” for many years. The name of the restaurant is a reference to the statue that adorns its roof. This statue, depicting a woman upon a throne in traditional Russian wear, surrounded on either side by two figures: a bearded man with an anchor symbol, and a young woman with a child and a symbol of a sheaf of wheat.
The statue is the most immediately noticeable feature of the building, though it was not placed on the building at construction. The building was constructed in 1895, and the statue, which formerly belonged to the Rossia Insurance Building on Asylum Hill, was relocated and installed on top of the Fowler-Huntting building sometime after 1914.
The origins of the Russian Lady statue beyond it belonging at one time to Rossia Insurance are veiled in mystery; no one knows the true meaning of the statues symbolism or even who sculpted it in the first place. Even the original commissioner is not known to local historians at the time of creating this entry.
The façade of the building includes brick siding with brownstone roof molding is graced by two stately fluted columns which frame the original storefront. The café and bar opened in 1976 and thrived at this location for just over 30 years. In 1997, the Russian Lady closed its doors, but the business returned in 2011 following an outpouring of local support and interest for the former Hartford restaurant and bar. As of the creation of this entry, the Russian Lady still serves Hartford’s Downtown, offering a unique, high-end daytime café and nightlife venue.
The History of Fowler-Huntting as a company is fascinating, as well. Founded in 1865, before the iconic building was constructed, Fowler-Huntting represented one of the earliest modern groceries in Hartford. Now owned by the Yandow Brothers, a group of Connecticut natives, Fowler-Huntting is the oldest produce distribution company in the state, having been in business continually since 1865. The company was bought by the Yandows in 1942 and has been in the Yandow family since that time.
While Fowler-Huntting has moved its physical home, and its operations expand across the entire state of Connecticut, the roots of this iconic and influential produce company can be traced to the building that now houses a locally-beloved hub of socialization. Visitors to Hartford often find themselves relaxing beneath the very same sculpture that thousands of Hartford natives of the early 1900s enjoyed when they walked along Ann Street.