Heublein Tower

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Heublein Tower
Heublein Tower, 2010-04-03.jpg
Location Simsbury, Connecticut
Area 4.5 acres (1.8 ha)
Built 1914
Architect Smith and Bassette
NRHP reference # 83001260
Added to NRHP July 30, 1983
The sleeping porch of Heublein Tower

The 165-foot-tall (50 m) Heublein Tower (pronounced /ˈhjuːbln/ HUE-bline),[1] located in Talcott Mountain State Park in Simsbury, Connecticut, provides panoramic views of the Hartford skyline and the Farmington River Valley that are particularly spectacular in the fall. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.


Gilbert Heublein was a magnate in the area of food and beverage, most notably as manufacturer of A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka; he founded Heublein Inc.

While hiking with his fiancé Louise M. Gundlach on Talcott Mountain, he promised her that one day he would build her a castle there.[2]


Designed by Smith and Bassette to survive 100 MPH winds, and built by T. R. Fox and Son in 1914, the Heublein Tower served as Gilbert Heublein's summer home and retreat. Smith and Bassette also designed the north and south wings of Governor's Mansion in 1916.[3] Truly an architectural marvel, Mr. Heublein modeled this structure after buildings in his native homeland of Bavaria. Standing 165 feet tall and situated 1,000 ft. above the Farmington Valley, one can see for several dozen miles in all directions from the top floor observation lounge.

The structure consists of a steel frame of 12-inch girders achored into the bedrock of the mountain ridge. The four columns in the four corners extend up to the second level and are made of reinforced concrete. A system of cross-girder braces adds strength to the shaft and cross-beams support the floors. It is also the site of the first home elevator in Connecticut.[2]

Due to fires and other disasters, the tower has been rebuilt several times over the last several decades.

The view of Hartford from atop the tower

Restoration efforts[edit]

The Heublein Tower is managed by the State of Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Restoration and support of the Tower interior is funded in large part by the work of the non-profit organization, The Friends of Heublein Tower. The Friends' organization was established in 1985 and is dedicated to preserving and restoring the Heublein Tower and its surrounding estate.

The Friends' mission is to restore for public use the Connecticut state-owned Heublein Tower landmark to its original and authentic 1914 splendor. By providing time, talent and financial assistance, the Friends of Heublein Tower supplements the state of Connecticut's efforts in restoring, improving and interpreting the Heublein Tower and its surrounding grounds. The restored Tower serves as a museum and a place of learning for the educational benefit of the public.

Most recent restoration activities include the installation of a white oak parquet floor in the observation room (known as the ballroom in Gilbert Heublein's day) designed in the same pattern as the original.

Visitors who brave the 120 steps to the observation room at the top of the tower are rewarded with an unparalleled view of the Farmington Valley, West Hartford and the Hartford skyline.

Historical significance[edit]

Due to anti-German sentiment in the United States during World War I, rumors circulated that the tower was being used to inform German ships of the location of Allied vessels. In order to stop the rumors, Heublein offered the use of the tower to the state and federal governments, both of which declined.[2]

Many famous people have been guests at the tower, where the Republican Party asked General Dwight Eisenhower to run for president. This same party was also attended by Prescott Bush, father of George H. W. Bush.[2] Ronald Reagan also visited the tower in the 1950s while he was president of the Screen Actors Guild.[4]

From 1948 to 1950, WTHT, an FM station operated by The Hartford Times, used the tower as its antenna site.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ KYFF, ROB (June 13, 2008). "Pronunciation For Novice Nutmeggers". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c d RYAN, BILL (January 31, 1999). "Tower of Romance, Tower of History". New York Times. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Governor's Residence". State of Connecticut. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 
  4. ^ "Talcott Mountain State Park". State of Connecticut. Retrieved 5 December 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°49′33″N 72°47′55″W / 41.8259°N 72.7985°W / 41.8259; -72.7985