Bristol-born Architect Built Himself a National Reputation

As printed in the Bristol Press, July 31, 2016.

BRISTOL — From 1914 to his retirement in 1966, architect Harold Hayden crafted many prominent buildings throughout the city including the Soldiers Monument on Memorial Boulevard. On Aug. 18, local historian Bob Adamczyk will bring Hayden’s many accomplishments to light at the Bristol Historical Society.

Adamczyk’s program, “Bristol’s Architect — Harold Hayden” will be held at 7 p.m. at the Bristol Historical Society at 98 Summer St. as part of the organization’s “Third Thursday” programming. Adamczyk said the first half of the presentation will focus on who Hayden was and what he accomplished and the second half will be a slide show of buildings he designed. Adamczyk will quiz the audience and ask them whether or not they recognize the structures.

Adamczyk said inspiration from the program came last year when resident David Reisner brought in a huge pile of Hayden’s blueprints, sketches, preliminary drawings and log-books.

“It took me a couple months to go through them all, but I thought that it would make for an interesting program,” said Adamczyk. “I later looked at architectural magazines from when Hayden was active and learned that he was not only known statewide, but also nationally. In addition to public buildings, he worked closely with the FHA (Federal Housing Authority) during World War II.”

In addition to the Soldiers Monument, some of Hayden’s more prominent, still-standing buildings in Bristol include the Callen School building which now belongs to the Hospital of Central Connecticut, the Sessions Clock Company office building at 61 East Main Street and the Board of Education Building.

“Many wealthy people, such as the Barnes, Ingraham, Treadway and Rockwell families would also come to him to make architectural changes or additions in their homes,” Adamczyk added. However, Adamczyk noted that roughly half of Hayden’s buildings were demolished when the city underwent redevelopment in the 1960s.

Hayden was born in Massachusetts in 1892 and died in 1985 in New Jersey. He graduated from the building that is now the Bristol Historical Society when it was a high school and served during World War I, where he achieved the rank of first lieutenant. He was deployed to Europe and put his skills to use creating fortifications along the western front. After the war, he was also the commander of the local American Legion from 1928 to 1929 and the president of the local Rotary Club from 1936 to 1937.

“He was a quiet and shy man and never married or had any children,” said Adamczyk.

“He never spoke much of himself during interviews, only business.”

After he died, Hayden was buried in West Cemetery along with his parents, his two sisters, his brother-in-law, his brother and his brother’s wife. In his obituary, Hayden’s family wrote that his architecture could be found in factory buildings from Hartford, to New Britain to Bristol. Adamczyk noted that he would speak again on Hayden at his grave during the annual Lantern Tour of West Cemetery, which will be held Sept. 30 at 6:40 p.m.

“I always equate history with architecture, music and the arts,” said Adamczyk.

“Sometimes when I’m stopped at a traffic light and I see a historic building, I wonder when it is designed, who designed it, and what its original purpose was. I hope that, after this program, some people will be able to stop and think, when they find themselves in a similar situation, “That’s one of Hayden’s buildings.’”

“The significance of Harold Hayden’s architecture to the beauty and structure of the city of Bristol is enormous and he hasn’t received the recognition from this generation that he deserves,” said Tom Dickau, past president of the Bristol Historical Society. “Bob will make this man’s life and legacy come to life.”

Admission to the program is free for Bristol Historical Society members or $5 for non-members.

Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or bjohnson@bristolpress.com.