ABOUT THE LYCEUM
Hartford’s bright and airy Lyceum has been a Frog Hollow neighborhood landmark since the 19th century. Its sweeping arches and inviting spaces, paired with modern technological amenities, make it an ideal location for conferences, meetings and events.
The Lyceum is a project of the Melville Charitable Trust, whose generous investments in organizations and projects in Connecticut and at the national level have led the way in finding and fighting the causes of homelessness. The Trust’s restoration of the Lyceum and investment in the Frog Hollow neighborhood are building a stronger community — offering a full range of resources for the neighborhood, the city and the state.
A Century Of Evolving Use
The Lyceum has long been a melting pot of people and ideas, a center for the community, and an engaging, exciting place. Built by the Catholic Archdiocese in 1895-96 as a wholesome gathering place for young men, the building was named the Lyceum in Aristotle’s tradition of a public gathering place for learning. John J. Dwyer, a prominent Hartford architect, drew on ancient Greek and Roman styles to craft a building with a reading room, gymnasium, and a two-story auditorium.
In 1920, the Hartford Box Company purchased the Lyceum and manufactured boxes on the premises. For more than four decades after 1940, the Lyceum is fondly remembered as the Lithuanian-American Citizens Club’s dance hall, community center and, later, restaurant. As demographics of the neighborhood shifted again, the building housed a punk rock dance club, a hot air balloon manufacturer, a roller skating business, the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, an advertising agency, and Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART).
In 2003, the Melville Charitable Trust purchased and renovated the building to serve as a home for conferences, educational programs, discussions, and the exchange of ideas aimed at creating stronger communities. Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building remains a vibrant and active destination.
OUR NEIGHBORHOOD, FROG HOLLOW
Located in Hartford, Frog Hollow stretches along Capitol Avenue directly west of the State Capitol until Laurel Street, and south towards Trinity College. Originally full of workforce housing for the factories along Capitol Avenue, Frog Hollow has long been a working class neighborhood. The neighborhood is rich in history, from the famous Olmsted Brothers-designed Pope Park to the nation’s second-oldest high school, Hartford Public High.
The Partnership is located at Frog Hollow’s northeastern end in the Lyceum Resource and Conference Center. Constructed in 1898 by the Hartford Archdiocese as a wholesome gathering place for young men, the building was named the Lyceum in Aristotle’s tradition of a public gathering place for learning. John J. Dwyer, a prominent Hartford architect, drew on ancient Greek and Roman styles to craft a building with a reading room, gymnasium and a two-story auditorium. The Lyceum was purchased by the Melville Charitable Trust in 2003 and opened in 2004.
Frog Hollow is a working-class neighborhood with a diverse group of businesses and residents. The Lyceum is within walking distance of Hartford’s train and bus station, Bushnell and Pope Parks, city buses and is a short drive to Interstate 84. Park Street, one of Hartford’s most vibrant corridors, runs through the heart of Frog Hollow and is home to many local- and minority-owned businesses. At the southern border of the neighborhood sits Trinity College, one of Hartford’s cultural centers.
Across the street from the Lyceum on the southeastern half of our block is Billings Forge Apartments. A former factory converted to housing in the 1960s and purchased and renovated by the Melville Charitable trust in 2005 and now managed by POAH. Our sister organization Forge City Works exemplifies mixed-use development. With 98 units of mixed-income, affordable housing, a weekly farmers market, thriving catering business and cafe with job training and the five-star Firebox Restaurant all on-site.
Under The Shadow Of The Capitol
Just four blocks from the State Capitol, Frog Hollow is still one of the poorest neighborhoods in the state. The median household income in Connecticut is $65,521; in Hartford it is $27,051, and in Frog Hollow, $17,333. At 16 percent, Frog Hollow has the highest unemployment rate in the state. Some 93 percent of residents are renters, 79 percent of whom have moved in the last year and half of whom are spending more than 35 percent of their income on housing.
The Melville Trust, the Partnership, Billings Forge and many others have made significant strides by focusing investment directly into the community. Slowly but surely, economic development without gentrification and housing-cost inflation is occurring in Frog Hollow. In the last several years, Frog Hollow has been named one of the best neighborhoods in the city by residents.