Col. Charles H. Northam (1797 – 1881)
Charles Harvey Northam was born December 21, 1797 in Washington, Rhode Island. He moved with his parents to Hartford in 1812 and accepted a clerk position at a grocery store. After learning how to manage a store, Northam opened his own grocery and tried his hand as a commission merchant. As he became more prosperous, he expanded his interests in shipping and accumulated great wealth in this venture. On October 13, 1828, Col. Northam married Susan Risley, and they adopted a daughter, Louise. He retired from the grocery business in 1862 at which time he became president of the Mercantile Bank.
Northam was an extremely generous philanthropist who donated funds to the Home for the Aged, Trinity College for the Northam Towers, Hartford Hospital, Christ Church and Cedar Hill Cemetery for the construction of the Northam Memorial Chapel.
Located at the intersection of Maple Avenue, Fairfield Avenue, Ridge Road and Berlin Turnpike in Hartford, construction on Cedar Hill’s Northam Memorial Chapel began in the summer of 1882. Architect George Keller, who also designed the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park, was hired to design the Chapel. Constructed of granite from a quarry in Westerly, Rhode Island, the Chapel reflects Keller’s Victorian-esque vision with an overall simplistic architectural design.
Cedar Hill’s Northam Memorial Chapel was officially dedicated on November 12, 1883 – exactly two years after Col. Northam’s death.
History of the Northam Memorial Chapel at Cedar Hill Cemetery. Cedar Hill Cemetery, Hartford, CT: 1982.
Photo Credit: Northam Memorial Chapel, Cedar Hill Cemetery & Foundation, 2010