Our Mission

Summary of Our Project

HartBeat Ensemble asked our Liberal Arts Action Lab team to research creative placemaking strategies for the Nook Farm area, in the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut. The goal of our research was to determine strategies for  the promotion of neighborhood stability and social cohesion for current residents of the neighborhood using creative placemaking. The goal was also to develop strategies that would avoid gentrification, defined here as development strategies that displace current residents. To better understand current residents’ experiences and aspirations for creative placemaking in their neighborhood, we decided to conduct face-to-face interviews with nearly 50 residents of the area immediately around HartBeat’s location on Farmington Avenue. The results of these interviews can be found on the Findings page of this site.

Research Question

What have other places similar to Asylum Hill done to promote “creative placemaking,” or developing projects that leverage the power of the arts, culture and creativity to serve a community’s interest? How can efforts to promote the important artistic legacy of Nook Farm promote neighborhood stability for current residents, and avoid becoming an agent of gentrification?

What is Asylum Hill?

Asylum Hill is one of Hartford’s poorest neighborhoods, but it is an historic district that is treasured for its literary, creative and architectural significance. It is a key gateway from the west to downtown Hartford with two major east-west avenues (Asylum and Farmington) running through. It is also home to two large employers, and two historic homes that make up Nook Farm: the Mark Twain House and the Harriet Beecher Stowe House as well as HartBeat Ensemble’s Carriage House Theater.

In previous generations, Nook Farm was an important gathering place for intellectuals and artists of various backgrounds, and gained a reputation for nurturing the production of works of immense cultural significance. Nook Farm is a neighborhood with many assets that, with coordinated use, can lead to prosperity and a high quality of life for all residents. Photo Credit

Our Research Team

Josephine Bensa, Giana Moreno, Aulona Zeka and Jane Bisson are a team of Trinity College and Capital Community College students who worked on a creative placemaking research project focusing on the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford, CT.  Sponsored by Asylum Hill’s HartBeat Ensemble, this project was part of the Spring 2018 Liberal Arts Action Lab, a downtown Hartford collaboration between Trinity College and Capital Community College. For more information on the Liberal Arts Action Lab, please click here.

Community Partner

Our community partner is the HartBeat Ensemble, located in the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford, Connecticut. The mission of HartBeat Ensemble is to create provocative theater that connects the Hartford community beyond the traditional barriers of class, race, gender and geography. HartBeat Ensemble has been a fantastic resource for all information on the Asylum Hill neighborhood, and has been instrumental in the success of this research project. In particular, we would like to thank Suzan Bibisi and Steve Raider-Ginsburg for their support, recommendations and critiques.  Photo Credit 

Neighborhood Stakeholders

The mission of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center is to preserve and interpret Stowe’s Hartford home and the center’s historic collections, promote vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspire commitment to social justice and positive change. It is located in the Nook Farm area of the Asylum Hill neighborhood in Hartford, CT. The Stowe Center was kind enough to offer our research team a private tour of the house, as well as access to their archives. Photo Credit


The mission of The Mark Twain House and Museum is to foster an appreciation of the legacy of Mark Twain as one of our nation’s defining cultural figures and to demonstrate the continuing relevance of his life, work and times. It is located in the Nook Farm area of the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford, CT. The Mark Twain House and Museum was kind enough to offer our research team a private tour and access to their historic resources. Photo Credit


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