Over the years, we've been struck by some of the facts of life in Hartford that are truly world class. Sometimes understated, these wonders need more attention and, maybe, this column will help. Examples:
Since the 1970's, our family has attended the Cathedral of Saint Joseph on Farmington Avenue in Asylum Hill. We've seen changes over those years: ethnic makeup of the parish, various pastors, wonderful music directors, etc... we remember Peter Harvey and his successful attempts to invoke "Cathedral style" as a norm that continues today. For example, we attended a funeral of a 90 year old woman who was active in the parish. Often, by that age, most friends and family have passed on or scattered. So, the parish has a "funeral ministry" of a score or so devoted parishioneers. With grace and polish, these few make such end of life events meaningful for the remaining family members, and we hope, the deceased looking down on a well presented memorial.
And, of course, the music presented at the mother church is world class with performances on the Cathedral organ, symphonies and choirs that rank with the best. Supporters like the Ahern Funeral home make these wonders possible.
Another class act in the city is our public library. Yours truly was involved many years ago in the move to renovate the library into a model for the nation, first with its building and, lately, with it's programming. While on the city council, we helped start the process that led to what we have today, and now we attend many events in that fine space. The weekly jazz series is an example of just what can be done in a public facility. The crowd (usually 400-500) really appreciates the music and developing friendships growing among the regulars. Some attendees "Find Hartford" for the first time years.
Another class act is the Arch Street Tavern. It suffered through the building of the Convention Center, Front Street and still puts up with inconvenience (people parking in it's lot going to the Spotlight movies). Despite all this, it offers just what a city needs: good affordable food, live music (Monday night jazz is our favorite) for many tastes, and an attentive pleasant staff. The state G.O.P. recognizes all this and will hold a state-wide St. Patrick's party on March 13th.
Vito's is another of our favorites with it's warming fireplace and great house wines. A happy hour crowd has developed and with Saturday night music and daily specials it's certainly meeting the competition on solid ground.
So, this column and it's new blog, "Club Hartford" will be making choices of our takes on "Hartford Has It: Class" often. Suggestions are solicited!