Coltsville National Historical Park, CT
In 2023, National Park Trust announced its successful partnership with the National Park Service, Congressman John B. Larson (CT, 1st District), Chevron Corporation, and other stakeholders in helping to pave the way to establish Coltsville National Historical Park in Hartford, CT.
Legislation in 2014 authorized the Coltsville National Historical Park contingent on satisfaction of specified conditions relative to the land and structures that would comprise the park, including achieving formal written agreements between the National Park Service, the City of Hartford, and private landowner Colt Gateway, LLC and its investing partner, Chevron Corporation.
Meeting the conditions of the agreement with the landowner for the donation of the property and an easement within the Colt Factory complex proved unexpectedly challenging, which led to complex and extensive discussions over a period of years.
In recognition of the importance of establishing Coltsville National Historical Park, National Park Trust was asked in early 2023 to assist in elevating and reframing the talks between the National Park Service and the landowner, which proved critical to reaching an agreement.
National Park Trust brought important perspectives and expertise in land protection and in creating public, nonprofit, and private entity collaborations for positive outcomes for all involved and helped to facilitate more focused and direct dialogue. These efforts in combination with the good faith of all parties led to an agreement that marked the final step needed to pave the way to establish the new national park unit.
The successful conclusion of the negotiations now opens the door for the National Park Service to acquire the historic 1850s Forge and Foundry brownstone buildings, which will preserve the legacy of the original Colt complex. Destined to become the heartbeat of the park, these time-honored structures will be transformed into the Park’s visitor center.
With the impending acquisition and transfer of these brownstones to the National Park Service, the last significant conditions required to establish Coltsville National Historical Park will be fulfilled. This pivotal moment heralds the realization of a vision and sets the stage for unfolding the narrative of Coltsville’s historical significance by the National Park Service.
Samuel Colt established Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company on this site along the Connecticut River in Hartford in the early 1850s. It was his most successful business and became known as an iconic high-quality firearms company. Colt built the company based on his 1836 patent for a six-shot pistol. His improved design also spurred production by competitors. Colt produced over 400,000 firearms before his death in 1862, making the brand famous around the world.
After he died, his wife Elizabeth assumed control of the company and rebuilt the Colt factory complex after a devastating1864 fire destroyed much of the factory. One of the most famous and popular firearms, the Colt “Peacemaker” was introduced in 1873, under her management. Although Elizabeth Colt sold her share of the company in 1901, the company she rebuilt remained successful as an icon of American manufacturing and is a legacy of one of the earliest female entrepreneurs.