The East Armory Complex

  • <p>The East Armory Complex.Photo Credit: NPS Digital Photo</p> <p>The East Armory, from behind, on a cloudy day. </p>
  • <p>The East Armory Complex at dawn. Photo Credit: NPS Digital Photo</p> <p>The East Armory Complex at dawn on a clear day. </p>
  • <p>The Blue Onion Dome with the Brownstone BuildingsPhoto Credit: Nick Caito</p> <p>The Blue Onion Dome rising against a blue sky behind the brownstone buildings. </p>
  • <p>The calling card of Samuel Colt, the Blue Onion Dome with Rampant Colt. Photo Credit: Nick Caito</p> <p>The Blue Onion Dome and gold Rampant Colt against a blue sky, </p>
  • <p>The Colt Armory Complex. Photo Credit: Connecticut State Library</p> <p>A black and white photo of a factory near a river </p>
  • <p>Workers in the East Armory in 1909.Photo Credit: Connecticut State Library</p> <p>A sepia toned photo of workers in a factory with machines in the background. </p>
  • <p>The calling card of Samuel Colt. Photo Credit: Connecticut State Library</p> <p>Black and white photograph of a onion dome atop a pedestal with a rampant colt. </p>
  • <p>The Colt Factory in 1876. Photo Credit: Connecticut State Library</p> <p>A sepia toned picture of a factory with workers standing in front of it.</p>

The East Armory and Dome are not open to the public and the National Park Service is not conducting tours at this time due to safety, liability and accessibility reasons.

American industrialist and gunsmith, Samuel Colt, would establish a successful business developing and creating firearms in Hartford, Connecticut.

The East Armory is easily recognizable in the Hartford Skyline by the Blue Onion Dome and Rampant Colt. Samuel, inspired by his trips to Russia, reproduced the Onion Dome style and added his own flair by adorning it with a Rampant Colt. The Colt seen atop the Armory is a replica of the original that was destroyed in a fire.

In 1851 Samuel began purchasing land in South Meadows. By 1855 the Colt's Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company was built and producing firearms. By 1857 it was producing 150 finished weapons a day.

Samuel spent most of his time focusing on perfecting precision machinery, designing and producing new arms and ensuring that patents and infringements were aptly dealt with. With the onset of the American Civil War in 1861, Colt’s business was booming. One year into the war, Samuel, unexpectedly passed away.

On February 4th, 1864, tragedy struck the Colt family. In the middle of the Civil War, when Colt was the nation’s largest producer of munitions, a fire broke out in one of the buildings. Even with people fighting the blaze, the fire quickly spread and within minutes entire floors were ablaze. Shortly after 9am the blue dome would crash to the ground as Elizabeth watched.

Over half of the factory burned to the ground, but Elizabeth having foresight, had taken out an insurance policy and rebuilt. Since completing the rebuild in 1867, the Blue Dome has graced the Hartford skyline.

Today, the East Armory is owned by Colt Gateway LLC and is leased out as office space and apartments. Other buildings contain an art academy, the office of a Senator, a cafe, and software development company.

In 1976 the East Armory was a designated as a contributing building to the Colt Industrial District and 2008, Coltsville Historic District was designated as a National Historic Landmark District. In 2014, the United States Congress authorized creation of the Coltsville National Historical Park which includes the East Armory.

While we are unable to conduct tours of the Dome at this time, please check out our virtual 3D Dome Tour that provides a view of the City of Hartford from inside the Dome!

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