Coltsville Timeline

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About the Coltsville Timeline

This guide is a timeline for the process of Coltsville petitioning to become part of the National Park Service. The major focus is on the federal legislation driving this process and the general history related to what is now called Coltsville. It is updated periodically. For histories of the Colt firearms: search our catalog; explore archives finding aids; look at the Colt Industries web site; go to the National Park site; and look at the "Further Research and Reading" and "Additional Resources" pages on this guide (updated periodically).

Public Law 113-291 includes a series of "Conditions for Establishment" that must be met before the park may be formally established. The National Park Service (NPS) is in the process of meeting the criteria.

Previously this research guide linked to most steps in the legislative process. As of April 2022, this guide will be streamlined by linking to the federal bill histories for the legislative process. Bill histories in Congress.gov include links to the relevant documents for a federal legislative history. Consult our research guide on federal legislative histories or  contact our reference librarians for additional information on the process. For detailed information about Coltsville becoming part of the National Park Service, please see our older archived guide:

Defense Rally at Colt's, 1941

Defense Rally 1941

Flood of 1936 - Aerial view of factory

Flood of 1936 - Aerial view of factory

Colt's armory complex - Old office building

Office Building

1980s

1982

Riverfront Recapture releases original plan, which includes a public park on banks of Connecticut River. The uncompleted section is opposite Coltsville, and is incorporated into the Coltsville plan. Riverfront Plan by Riverfront Recapture, Inc, 1982, Source 42.

1980

Hartford Architecture Conservancy identifies Sheldon/Charter Oak neighborhood to be preserved in their survey.

1970s

1976

June 8, 1976 The Colt Industrial District placed on the National Register of Historic Places and recognized as the Colt Industrial National Register District. The district includes Armsmear, the Colt Fire Arms factory complex, Colt Park, three manager houses, and worker housing.

Blue onion dome and colt rampart restoration paid by anonymous donor. Source 28

1970s

In the 1970's the NPS started the process of making it a National Historic Landmark. [22] 

1940s through 1960s

November 11, 1966

Formerly Known As Samuel Colt Home, Armsmear was designated a National Historic Landmark (NHL) by the Secretary of the Interior

1964

Company becomes Colt Industries

1961

Samuel Colt Presents, exhibit at Wadsworth Atheneum. Exhibit book published. Samuel Colt's presentations of firearms. Source 37

Colt company celebrated its 125th anniversary. Source 37

1957

Colt Fire Arms Collection give to the Museum of Connecticut History (from The Colt's Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company Factory Collection). 

1955

Company bought by Penn-Texas, main plant moved to West Hartford. Company struggled and was bought out by the conglomerate Penn-Texas in 1955. The main plant moved to West Hartford, but production of the Colt AR-15 and M-16 automatic rifles, introduced in 1960 and used by the American military since the Vietnam War.

1942

Art modern building replaces the Italianate office building

1941

Spring - United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, CIO organized at Colt.

1900 through 1930s

1938

Hurricane of 1938

September 17-21. The Colt Dike had been rebuilt and extended after the 1936 flood. Again sandbags (many filled with loam) were used to raise and reinforce the dike. Items on the first floor of factory were moved to the second floor. The flood topped at 35 feet. Source 28

1936

Flood of 1936

March - Great Flood of 1936. March 11 - heavy rain. Vermont and New Hampshire sections of Connecticut River filled with melting snow. An ice jam formed where Farmington River joined the Connecticut River, which broke on Friday, March 13. The river hit a flood stage of 24 feet. By Sunday, it crested and began to recede. More heavy rain and melting snow brought the Connecticut River to 25 feet by Wednesday, March 18, and it continued to rise. People were evacuated from neighborhoods near the river. The dike was raised with sandbags, but the flood breached it on Thursday. The flood filled the first floor of the Colt factory and reached two feet on the second floor. Employee Robert Courtney is credited with saving the shipping ledgers. There was a wall of water when the dike gave way. It was Saturday morning before the river crested. At Colt, the water was recorded at 38.5 feet. Machines, engines, belts - they all needed to be dismantled, cleaned, dried, reassembled because the water and mud had reached the second floor. Three buildings were razed and replaced with modern ones. In Connecticut Valley, there was more destruction than Hurricane of 1938. Source 28, 37.

June 1936

Construction of storehouse and recreation center

March 13, 1935

Start of thirteen week strike. Management had police restrict strikers to standing two abreast outside the main entrance. The company lost their "Blue Eagle" which meant it was not in good standing to receive government contracts. There were reports of violence directed at workers crossing the picket line as well as management and executives. Several sources, including Source 28, 37.

1934

Independent Association of Colt Employees disbanded. Source 28

May - three craft unions formed a joint council and attempted to bargain with Colt.  Eventually the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Colt had refused to bargain collectively and gave the company ten days to recognize the  joint council. March 13 strike came out of Colt's refusal to comply.  Source 28

1929

Armory House demolished

1921

Resigned from the board: Colonel Skinner (president); Stone (vice-president); Frank Schirmer. source 28

1920s

Following the end of World War I, Colt Industries planned to diversify their manufacturing with adding machines, washing machines and acquiring plastics company (renamed Coltrock). source 28

1916

To fill the extraordinary demands of the war, the Colt plant underwent a major expansion in 1916, adding the South and North Armories, the Machine Shop, and several smaller structures. This expansion effectively doubled the capacity of the plant.

1914

World War One begins. USA joined in 1917. Women began to work in factories outside of textile industry. Source 28.

1911

Army adopts Colt .45 as standard sidearm.

1905

August 21, 1905 - Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt dies (age 79) in Newport, RI, leaving the Elizabeth Hart Jarvis Colt Collection to the Wadsworth Atheneum, along with $50,000 to build the Colt Memorial Wing. 105 acres of Armsmear grounds was left to City of Hartford for a public park. She was survived by three nieces. (various sources, source 43, 45, 46).

Before her death, Elizabeth Colt prepared that summer by going over details for statue of Sam Colt that would be erected in Colt Park; paying one last visit to Caldwell's yacht the Dauntless; assembling small gifts of remembrance; leaving orders for her horses to be shot and buried. $800,000 was left to the Church of the Good Shepherd to maintain the church and parish house. The funeral was at the Church of the Good Shepherd and internment in Cedar Hill Cemetery. Veteran employees of the armory were pallbearers. (Source 28, 45, 46)

1903

January 21, 1903 Richard William Hart Jarvis (brother of Elizabeth Colt and armory president) dies on ninth anniversary of Caldwell Colt's death. (Source 28,46) and State Library death records.

1901

Company sold to Armstrong & Schirmer and a holding company was formed.

After 54 years, Colt was no longer family owned. Source 28

General William B. Franklin stepped down from being director. Source 28

May - "Fifty thousand machinists and metal workers went on strike across the country in May." They were seeking a nine hour day and time and a half over nine hours. Colt workers did not join the strike, although others in the state did. p.57 source 28.