Nice to see that there are plans to convert the old Hotel Sonesta on Hartford’s Constitution Plaza into apartments.

You may remember the place as the Hotel America.  Or the Summit.  Or the Clarion.  But to me it will always be The Sonesta. 


I worked next door for nearly 14 years.  It is where we held our wedding reception.  Its bars are where we celebrated triumphs and shared sorrows.  And if you never had prime rib and caesar salad prepared tableside in the Rib Room, you missed out.  It was the “special occasion” place.

Gordon and Steve were the tuxedoed maitre d’s at the Rib Room.  Cindy and Bridget were among the bartenders at Zeros.  Harry was the doorman you couldn’t walk by without rehashing the previous night’s ballgame.  And Bill Ricco ran the place.  A dapper, goateed bon vivant who kept a sharp eye over the proceedings.

The building itself was undistinguished.  The hotel rooms, on the small side.  But those people made the building, and oh what fun we had.

It will be nice to see the lights back on.


About Gerry

I've been covering Connecticut news and sports since 1974. I know, I don't look that old.
This entry was posted in It's all about me, Living in the Past, News, People and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Resurrection

  1. Derek says:

    Nice read Gerry! As someone who lives in downtown Hartford, it’s nice to see the city make strides. Now if we can just get someone to invest in the Goodwin Hotel and continue developing downtown, we may just get back to the halcyon days. Time will tell…

    • Gerry says:

      Thanks Derek. Several folks moved from the Sonesta to the Goodwin. It would be nice to see that place make a comeback. A nice boutique hotel.
      One step at a time, I guess.

  2. I stayed in the hotel for a night. It wasn’t the best place. It would be nice to see the “sights” on the drive down 84 somewhat rehabbed. Those buildings on Asylum are dilapidated.

  3. Anita says:

    Nice Gerry! I worked at the Front Desk of the Hotel Sonesta part time – back then. I worked the weekend of your reception. I specifically remember that your family (your Dad) was nice and often think of this when I see you on the news!

  4. Chip Gorra says:

    I remember coming up from New London to the Hotel Americana when I was a kid back in the 1960’s, when the hotel was new and shiny. At the time, I thought that it was the coolest place that I had ever seen: Wow, more than one elevator!: this was the big city to me! I’m glad to see that they will find a good new use for it: Downtown can always use some more decent apartments. People are what makes a city hum: they buy necessities locally, eat in the local restaurants, take advantage of the arts and cultural offerings of the city, and make the the downtown a more appealing place to be 24/7

  5. Better late than never I guess. It took 50 years to realize these plazas, and downtown in general, need people living there to survive?

  6. Jean says:

    My Dad once submitted this poem to a contest The Sonesta was having, years ago:
    If your dinners are one big siesta,
    And you’re more inclined to fiesta,
    Then Bon Appetit! You’re in for a treat
    In the Rib Room at Hotel Sonesta.
    He won! I think the grand prize was a free dinner, and all the cache that comes with being a published poet….

  7. Gerry–

    This is a nice background piece. My earliest memory of the America / Sonesta / Summit / Clarion / Abandoned is a dinner my Dad’s company gave in the Rib Room sometime in the mid-1960s. In 1980, when I worked for six weeks as a security guard at Constitution Plaza, I met many interesting people on the Plaza as they came and went, particularly during a small Science Fiction conference held there. In the early 1990s, working in IT at the Travelers, we would enjoy the buffet at the Clarion for the occasional Friday luncheon.

    Since I work at One State Street (right across the pedestrian bridge) today, I have developed a fascination for the building, although I beat it up on my Flickr stream. I have many photographs of it I have yet to post; the good, the bad and the honest…


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