From Mick Melvin:
I have long been curious about this distinctive building in Hartford, CT. I used to think the building was a religious structure because of the blue onion dome with gold stars (Growing up in the Hartford area, I found the building exotic and mysterious -- DB). But no, this is the Colt Armory, one-time headquarters of one of the world's most well-known gun manufacturers.
The dome, which can easily be viewed from route I-91 going through Hartford, was company founder Samuel Colt's idea. Some say that the dome is a tribute to Colt's early work with Russian businessmen. Others say it was just a dramatic marketing tool. Either way, it is a distinctive piece of architecture. The original armory burned down in 1864, three years after Colt's death. The new building was rebuilt by his widow, Elizabeth Colt, and was made to be fireproof and larger than the original. The design is said to be based on the styles of the Italian Renaissance.
(Inside the armory.)
(Rear of armory.)
The building and the surrounding area are being transformed into Coltsville National Park, after receiving congressional approval late last year. The park will honor the accomplishments of Samuel Colt. Plans for the park include a visitors center, an observation platform from which visitors can view the factory floor, and an elevator to the dome.
Plans are also in place to transform adjacent Colts Park, Armsmear (the residence of Samuel and Elizabeth Colt), and the Church of the Good Shepherd. It is the hope of Connecticut officials that the area become an educational center emphasizing Colt's contribution to firearms and the industrial revolution. The 260-acre Coltsville National Park is a work in progress, but we will be sure to keep you all posted.
(Church of the Good Shepherd.)
(Armsmear, one-time residence of Samuel and Elizabeth Colt. Now an apartment building.)
For more, read this article about the approval of the national park.