A Jewish Grocer & Origins of Zoning

When Jacob Solomon Goldberg returned home to Hartford after military service in World War I, he sought to advance himself from a butcher into a businessman. Jacob partnered with his brother Barney and their brother-in-law Hyman M. Cohen to buy a small grocery store in downtown Hartford, near their East Side neighborhood, which they managed together during the early 1920s. Like other entrepreneurs of their era, they “followed the trend of business to the west” and dreamed of opening a second grocery store in the rapidly-growing suburb of West Hartford. The town’s population grew at a faster rate than Hartford during the 1910s and nearly doubled in size to almost 9,000 residents. West Hartford town officials granted more than 300 building permits for single- and two-family homes in 1922, more than any other town in Connecticut that year. Linked by convenient trolley lines to the capital city and corporate headquarters for the nation’s leading banks and insurance companies, West Hartford was quickly becoming an ideal destination for the rising middle class.69

Goldberg and his family searched for the perfect location to open a second grocery store. With funds from Jacob’s father David, who previously owned a Jewish meat market in Hartford, they bought two valuable parcels of undeveloped land on Farmington Avenue at the corner of Ardmore Avenue, on the trolley line about halfway between the Hartford border and West Hartford’s town center. In the early 1920s, only a dozen grocers served all of West Hartford, including several small shops that sold food products out of their homes. Nearby customers typically made frequent purchases during the week due to limited transportation and refrigeration. The closest competitors were located about a half-mile in opposite directions: West Hill Grocery (also on Farmington Avenue, closer to the Hartford border) and M.J. Burnham’s (a larger store in West Hartford Center). Although the immediate area around Goldberg’s property had only 60 houses in 1923, real estate developers and town officials had subdivided the land into smaller lots, and were building side streets and sewer lines, in anticipation of many more homebuyers. Next door to Goldberg’s vacant lots stood the only non-residential building in the vicinity: the West Hartford Armory for the Connecticut National Guard Troop B Cavalry. Perhaps the odor from its horse stables helped explain why no one had yet built a home on Goldberg’s empty property lots.70

But when Goldberg applied for a building permit in January 1923, the West Hartford building inspector declined. Instead, the inspector called a public hearing, where “a score of property owners in the Ardmore road section appeared and protested” against Goldberg’s plan to build a grocery store. In their eyes, it made no difference that Goldberg had followed every legal requirement in the town building code. It made no difference that his proposed store would be facing the busier Farmington Avenue, or be much smaller than the Armory building next door, as shown in Figure 3.1. What mattered was that property owners challenged Goldberg’s right to build a store in their neighborhood, and the town government took their side and refused to grant his building permit. Although Goldberg eventually prevailed and opened his Kingswood Market neighborhood grocery store as shown in Figure 3.2, this legal dispute and the anti-Jewish climate surrounding it reveals how exclusionary zoning arose in Connecticut in the 1920s.71

Figure 3.1: In 1923, West Hartford property owners and town officials objected to Jacob Goldberg’s application to build a grocery store at the corner of Farmington Avenue and Ardmore Road (shown in blue), which would be much smaller than the West Hartford Armory next door (shown in red). Source: Sanborn fire insurance maps digitized by the Library of Congress. Interactive map developed by Ilya Ilyankou and Jack Dougherty, with sources and code on GitHub.

Jacob Goldberg eventually won the legal battle to open Kingswood Market in November 1924, pictured here on its third anniversary (bottom left) and also in 2004. Other first-floor storefronts included the Kingswood Pharmacy and Dettenborn Hardware, with small shops and offices on the second floor. Images from Hartford Courant (1928); Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society (2004), used with permission.

Figure 3.2: Jacob Goldberg eventually won the legal battle to open Kingswood Market in November 1924, pictured here on its third anniversary (bottom left) and also in 2004. Other first-floor storefronts included the Kingswood Pharmacy and Dettenborn Hardware, with small shops and offices on the second floor. Images from Hartford Courant (1928); Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society (2004), used with permission.

Anti-Development or Anti-Semitism?

Why did West Hartford property owners and town officials block Goldberg’s building permit? Were they opposed to a grocery story in their residential neighborhood—or to the presence of a Jewish grocer from Hartford? This question defies a simple answer. On one hand, West Hartford homeowners also opposed related types of commercial real estate development, even when promoted by a local Protestant businessman. On the other hand, opposition was more vigorous against Goldberg’s store, compared to Protestant-led development, and we cannot ignore the broader context of anti-Semitism and anti-immigration in this period, considering that much was hidden from public view. To fully tell this story, we need to consider both aspects of opposition to Goldberg’s grocery store.

On the surface, there is no evidence of overt anti-Semitism against Goldberg in this 1923 dispute. No one was recorded to have publicly uttered an anti-Jewish slur against him, nor did he publicly charge that his permit was rejected due to his religion, according to available documents. In fact, the strongest evidence that anti-Semitism was not the primary factor was similar opposition to Fred Kenyon, a local Protestant real estate businessman. One month earlier in December 1922, Kenyon proposed to build a public garage for residents to park their automobiles, to be located in the rear of Lancaster Road, only one block away. But the West Hartford building inspector refused to grant Kenyon a permit due to objections from property owners at a public hearing. Two months later, homeowners on nearby Fern Street went to court to stop Kenyon’s real estate company from removing a deed restriction that guaranteed only single-family homes would be built on property in their neighborhood, since they feared that multi-family apartment buildings would lower their property values. Since West Hartford residents and town officials blocked both Goldberg (a Jew) and Kenyon (an Episcopalian), religion was not the sole factor, at least on the surface.72

But below the surface, the controversy over Goldberg’s store arose during a period of intense anti-Semitism and anti-immigration. Across the nation during the 1920s, automaker Henry Ford and broadcaster Father Charles Coughlin widely circulated anti-Jewish conspiracy theories, and US lawmakers imposed immigration quotas to sharply reduce Jewish migrants from Eastern European. In cities like Hartford, Protestant and Catholic leaders at selective institutions of business, medicine, law, and higher education blocked or discouraged Jews from employment or enrollment. In Protestant-led small towns like West Hartford, some local officials and property owners probably perceived Goldberg as a Jewish outsider to their community. Even if no one uttered an anti-Jewish slur against him at a public meeting, to fully understand this controversy we need to examine how several Hartford-area leaders created an anti-Semitic climate and spoke bluntly against Jewish immigrants in their private conversations.73

While growing up in Hartford’s Jewish community in the early 1900s, Jacob Goldberg most likely heard the history of how freedom of religion was not originally extended to his people. Early Connecticut began as a Christian colony, with no separation of church and state. After Reverend Thomas Hooker and his followers broke away from the Puritans and settled Connecticut in the 1630s, they established the Congregational Church as the seat of government in each town, and required residents to pay taxes to support its work. Despite the promise of freedom of religion in the First Amendment to the US Constitution in 1789, Connecticut did not officially remove the Congregational Church as the state religion until three decades later. Delegates to Connecticut’s Constitutional Convention in 1818 debated the topic of religious freedom, but deliberately voted to extend it only to “every society or denomination of Christians,” not other faiths. Jews were not permitted to form their own congregations or worship publicly until 1843, when a delegation of German Jews persuaded the state legislature to grant this right by statute (though the state constitutional language remained overtly Christian until 1965).74

When Jacob’s parents, David and Rachel Goldberg, migrated to Hartford in 1884, they established one of the city’s first kosher meat markets, and helped to settle many of the Eastern European Jews who came after them. Hartford became home to Connecticut’s largest Jewish community, with about 11 percent of the city’s population estimated to be Jewish in 1920. Most Jewish immigrants lived in crowded tenement buildings in the Front Street and Windsor Street neighborhoods near the Connecticut River, which experts had declared to be “the worst housing conditions in the country” among cities of Hartford’s size. To earn a living, Jewish men commonly became peddlers who vocally advertised their goods up and down the streets, and maybe after gaining a foothold, opened a retail storefront. They sometimes came into conflict with Hartford Police over noise complaints in the streets, or doing business on Sundays in violation of Connecticut’s Blue Laws to protect the Christian sabbath. By 1912, the Goldbergs earned enough money from their retail business to move out of the crowded East Side and into a single-family home in Hartford’s North End. “The poor Jews still lived in the Third Ward” near the Connecticut River, one of Goldberg’s contemporaries later recalled, while middle-class Jews were moving into newer housing developments to the west of the city center.75

Jacob followed his father into the retail food business in part because Hartford’s Protestant- and Catholic-led institutions blocked Jews of his generation—including several of his relatives—from higher-status positions in other economic sectors. Although Hartford was one of the nation’s insurance and banking centers, these institutions only hired a few Jews to serve as bookkeepers or sales agents, and did not allow them to rise into positions of responsibility until the 1950s. According to a survey of 800 officers and directors employed at Hartford’s ten largest insurance companies and six largest banks in 1967, only 1 percent were Jewish (and most of them were concentrated in one bank). Both the Protestant-run Hartford Hospital and the Catholic-run St. Francis Hospital barred nearly all Jewish doctors, with rare exceptions, from practicing medicine at their facilities until World War II. These hospital hiring policies were “never written and seldom articulated,” but clearly understood. Similarly, Hartford’s top three corporate law firms—Robinson and Cole; Day, Berry, and Howard; and Shipman and Goodwin—refused to employ Jews through the 1950s, based on unwritten but widely recognized “gentlemen’s agreements” that Jews should not apply, nor would they be considered.76.

Uncovering Unwritten Rules Against Jews at Trinity College

Although “unwritten rules” against Jews typically did not appear in public documents, in certain cases we can find them in private documents that their creators believed would remain secret. At Trinity College, Hartford’s preeminent institution of higher education, administrative and student leaders strongly expressed anti-Semitic views and implemented strategies to reduce the number of Jewish students from 1915 to at least 1922, according Board of Trustees meeting minutes that were long hidden from public view. For decades, Trinity Board Minutes were guarded as “confidential” and “not available for research use,” even by Trinity faculty members like me. Trinity archivist Peter Knapp wrote a book in 2000 that acknowledged the College’s anti-Jewish policies and quoted from Board minutes, but these documents were not made publicly available until the Trinity Archives changed its policy in 2017 to release materials after a 50-year period, and began to upload them to the Digital Repository in 2019. Since Trinity’s anti-Jewish rules did not appear in any College publications or newspaper accounts from this period, they would have remained invisible today if Trinity’s archivists had not made this history public. Furthermore, anti-Semitism at Trinity is noteworthy because the Episcopalians who established the College in 1823 directly challenged the lack of religious tolerance in the Congregationalist Church that dominated state government at that time, and adopted a charter that promised Trinity would “not make the religious tenets of any person a condition of admission.”77

Rev. Flavel S. Luther served as President of Trinity College from 1904 to 1919. In public, he was a well-respected mathematician, engineer, and ordained leader in the Episcopalian Church. Hartford voters also elected him to the Connecticut State Senate from 1907 to 1911, where his key accomplishment was to consolidate rural school districts and solidify town-level governance. Luther was a Progressive-era Republican who identified with (and bore some resemblance to) former US President Theodore Roosevelt, who accepted his invitation to deliver Trinity’s commencement address in 1918. To this day, a Trinity student tradition is to wait until graduation day before stepping on the Luther-Roosevelt commemorative stone on the Long Walk.78

Former US President Theodore Roosevelt (left) delivered the 1918 commencement address at the invitation of his friend, Trinity President Flavel S. Luther (left), an event commemorated by a plaque that students traditionally avoid stepping on prior to graduation day. Images from Weaver, History of Trinity College and “Traditions” web page at Trinity.

Figure 3.3: Former US President Theodore Roosevelt (left) delivered the 1918 commencement address at the invitation of his friend, Trinity President Flavel S. Luther (left), an event commemorated by a plaque that students traditionally avoid stepping on prior to graduation day. Images from Weaver, History of Trinity College and “Traditions” web page at Trinity.

But behind closed doors, Luther and his contemporaries spoke candidly against Jews. Luther first raised the topic with Trinity’s Board of Trustees in 1915, when he warned them about “the problem presented by the slow, but unmistakable, increase of the number of Jews at the College,” as shown in Figure 3.4. At that time, probably no more than 10 percent of the 250 students on campus were Jewish, most of whom resided in the city of Hartford. “Their presence is resented by the other students and has occasioned many protests by the alumni,” Luther observed, and cautioned that “if they increase, the matter may easily become serious.” Following the Protestant ideology of prior educators, Luther expressed his conviction that Trinity “should do its share in educating these aliens, whatever their race or religion… [because] it is only by education that they can ever be assimilated and Americanized.” Nevertheless, he believed that Jewish student enrollment should be limited in some way because “we cannot afford to sacrifice any of the really higher interests of the college for the sake of a special class.” No objections were recorded among the other fourteen board members in attendance, including distinguished clergymen, bankers, judges, and businessmen. No one mentioned that Trinity’s founders originally established their college on the principles of religious tolerance.79

Figure 3.4: Explore excerpts of anti-Jewish views and policies by Trinity College leaders in the Board of Trustees meeting minutes from 1915 to 1922, or view the entire document in the Trinity Digital Repository.

Although some Jewish students were admitted, Trinity leaders refused to accept Black students in this era. During the same closed-door meeting in 1915, President Luther confided to Board members that he had received several applications from “colored boys who wished to enter Trinity College,” but reported that he found ways to reject all of them. “In each case so far I have been able to avoid an issue by methods which savor somewhat, I fear, of insincerity; but which have been effective.” Perhaps Luther lied to Black applicants about their qualifications, or the finances that would be required, or invented some other reasons why they could not attend Trinity. Looking into the future, he predicted that “the time will come when this matter must be faced and definitely decided.” But that day was in the distant future, because Trinity only admitted a few Black students in the 1950s, and did not begin to address racism in its admissions practices until the late 1960s.80

Luther accurately predicted that the rising number of Jewish students would soon become a “serious” problem at Trinity College. In April 1918, the Board of Trustees heard from a Student Senate committee, appointed by the faculty “as the result of undergraduate expression of feeling against the Jews.” These five Student Senators, two of whom also led the Trinity Tripod campus newspaper, claimed that the “alarmingly” high rate of Jewish enrollment was approaching 25 percent (although the actual figure was closer to 15 percent). Student Senators’ objections to Jews reflected their negative views of Hartford residents and recent Eastern European immigrants. “The Jews come up to the College from the city, get all they can from from the College, and give nothing to the College,” they wrote. Although Student Senators praised the high scholastic standing of their Jewish peers, they criticized their lack of support for college athletics as well as the war effort. “Speaking in general terms, the Jews have not enlisted in military service while the Gentiles have,” they claimed (a false statement, as documents later showed). Furthermore, the Student Senators complained that “most of the Jews at Trinity are Russian,” which they believed meant that every classroom “has a Russian socialistic expression of opinion.” As a consequence, they told the Board that their classmates “hesitate about showing friends around the College, when they are sure to be greeted frequently by Jews.” Board members asked President Luther to address this problem.81

President Luther presented more data and observations about Jewish students at the June 1918 Board meeting, He understood Trinity’s larger problem was that World War I caused total enrollment to fall from around 250 to only 158 students in 1917-18, when many men left college to enlist in military service or join the workforce. The actual number of Jewish students remained relatively stable at 25 that year, but the proportion of Jews on campus had risen to 15 percent. Drawing on his personal observations of student life, Luther pointed to “a few of the Jews in College who, by reason of exceptional personal qualities, are cordially accepted as good fellows. The other students call them ‘White Jews.’” Luther’s comment revealed how Trinity’s dominant White Protestant culture considered most Jews to be non-White in this era, and assigned them to a lower position in the racial hierarchy. While Luther described Jews as “good scholars… who pay their bills,” he concluded that “they are a definite hindrance to the growth of the College,” and suggested ways that Trinity might deter their future enrollment, perhaps by mandatory Christian chapel services.82

One year later, Trinity student leaders continued to demand that the College reduce Jewish enrollments, but now cloaked their anti-Semitism in more publicly acceptable language of the era. The “Student Movement for Americanization at Trinity” submitted its resolutions to the Board of Trustees in April 1919, and demanded a reduction in “the undesirable element,” a coded phrase that replaced direct references to “Jews” or “Hebrews.” While Americanization proponents recognized that Trinity’s charter promised equality of opportunity regardless of religion, they argued that “90% of the undesirable element lives in Hartford,” and that the College needed to discourage local Jews from attending Trinity. They proposed a policy of “compulsory residence” in college dormitories “to influence and Americanize all students which cannot be done to some of the students while living at their homes.”83

Trinity leaders embraced this Americanization strategy by enacting an alien-residence policy. To address what some discreetly called “the particularly undesirable element which so seriously lowers the standing of the College,” the Board voted to require on-campus dormitory residence for all freshmen and sophomore students “of alien birth, and… whose fathers were of alien birth,” effective in Fall 1919. This alien-residence policy was designed to discourage Hartford Jews from attending (since they would have to pay additional residence fees rather than live at home), and to assimilate those who did enroll. The College focused only on students’ first two formative years, in part because they lacked sufficient dormitories to mandate it for all students. Board members also discussed whether the alien-residence rule should appear in official College publications, and finally granted President Luther permission to do so. The outcome was a one-page supplement to the 1918-19 Trinity Catalogue, as shown in Figure 3.5, published at the end of the academic year in June 1919 so that hardly anyone would actually see it in print. The alien-residence rule did not appear in future editions of the Catalogue, nor the Student Handbook, nor the Trinity Tripod student newspaper, nor the Hartford Courant daily newspaper. This cleverly allowed Trinity leaders to hide the policy away from public view, yet still enforce a rule that was “on the books.”84

Figure 3.5: Explore the alien-residence rule in a June 1919 one-page supplement, added nearly a year after the publication of the 1918-19 Trinity College Catalogue. This effectively hid the rule from public view, but still allowed Trinity officials to enforce it. View the full document in the Trinity Digital Repository.

Trinity leaders definitely enforced their alien-residence policy. Officials reported to the Board in October 1919 that the rule was applied to 16 students, but “only three of these cases were Hebrews.” This may have signaled that the policy began to meet its goal by deterring some Hartford Jews from applying, and assimilating others who chose to enroll. To avoid burdening non-Jewish immigrants, the Board refined its policy to exempt “students of alien parentage residing in other towns than Hartford” from the dormitory residence requirement, at the discretion of administrators. In other words, the son of a Swedish immigrant in West Hartford could attend Trinity while continuing to live at home, but the son of a Jewish immigrant in Hartford could not.85

Two years later, new Trinity President Remsen Ogilby asked the Board to grant him greater discretion over the College’s alien-residence policy, while continuing to quietly limit the number of Jewish students. In June 1921, Ogilby asked the Board “for a reconsider of the rule requiring sons of foreign born to live on the campus,” and noted that the rule “has caused bitter feelings in some quarters.” Initially, Ogilby seemed to take a stand against treating Jewish students differently. “If the rule is intended to keep out the members of one single race,” he warned, “it is not honest and rules out too many good students who would otherwise be with us.” The Board voted to grant him the power to waive the resident rule on a case-by-case basis. Yet one year later, Ogilby reported on Trinity’s success in reducing its Jewish population. “The number of Jewish students has been a matter of interest to many of us and has concerned two or three,” Ogilby told the Board in 1922, attempting to minimize and put past controversies behind him. He proudly announced that “the percentage of Hebrews in the student body” had declined from 10.5 percent in 1921 to 9 percent in 1922. Interestingly, his presentation did not emphasize that the actual number of Jewish students had remained stable at around 25 (roughly the same number as in 1918), a fact that was disguised because the proportion of Jewish students declined after World War I, when Trinity’s total enrollment rebounded to 268 men. Furthermore, Ogilby backed off his initial stance against treating Jewish students differently. In 1922 he presented additional suggestions on “limiting the number of Hebrew students” to the Board’s Executive Committee, which they discussed, but took no action, at least on record. Unlike other institutions such as Harvard and Yale, there is no direct evidence that Trinity overtly or covertly invoked an admissions quota to reduce Jewish student enrollment. Instead, Trinity relied on its alien-residence policy to discourage Hartford Jews from attending, and to assimilate those who persisted. Since this rule was hidden from public view, and did not surface again in confidential Board minutes, we do not know when Trinity stopped enforcing it.86

To be clear, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant views among Trinity’s Protestant leadership does not prove they were prevalent among West Hartford’s Protestant property owners and town officials who objected to Jacob Goldberg’s building permit in 1923. But this evidence from Trinity College demonstrates the strength of anti-Jewish words and actions at one of Hartford’s most-respected institutions—established on the tenets of religious tolerance—and that its leaders were skilled in hiding their prejudice from the public eye. Further evidence reveals that anti-Semitism was not far beneath the surface in West Hartford. In 1925, Rabbi Abraham Feldman arrived in Hartford to lead Congregation Beth Israel, a Reform synagogue whose members were considering moving to West Hartford, and had purchased land on Farmington Avenue, not far from Goldberg’s store. Feldman recalled some of his early, unpleasant encounters with West Hartford town leaders while speaking with an oral historian in 1974. “West Hartford was a closed community politically,” Feldman recalled, labeling it “the most Republican town in the US” in the 1920s. Although Jews were just beginning to move from the city to the suburb, “there was no chance for a young Jew, or a Jewish lawyer… who wanted to enter the political life of the community,” he remembered, adding that West Hartford’s Protestant leaders “didn’t want any Catholics, either.” Overall, while there is no evidence of overt anti-Semitism in the Goldberg grocery store controversy, we cannot tell this history without recognizing strong influence in the context surrounding these events.87

Fighting Back

Faced with these anti-Semitic barriers, many Hartford Jews fought back by gathering resources to create their own institutions during this era. Jewish doctors opened Hartford’s Mount Sinai Hospital in 1923, and proudly declared that their doors were open “to all citizens regardless of race or creed.” Connecticut’s only Jewish-led hospital both served the needs of immigrant patients who were viewed as second-class citizens by other hospitals, and created employment opportunities for Jews in medical professions. Jacob’s sister, Celia Goldberg Pessin, earned her nursing degree at New York City’s Mount Sinai Hospital, and became the first Jewish woman to enter nurses training in Hartford. When Jewish lawyers were refused jobs at Hartford’s corporate law firms, some opened their own smaller law offices. Another one of Jacob’s sisters, Dora Goldberg Schatz, married attorney Nathan Schatz, who partnered with his brother Louis (a Jewish graduate of Trinity College) to create the Schatz and Schatz law firm in Hartford in 1917. In higher education, Rabbi Feldman also played an instrumental role in the founding of the University of Hartford, open to all students, in 1957.88

Jacob Goldberg also fought back. When the West Hartford building inspector refused to grant him a permit to construct his grocery store in January 1923, Goldberg hired an attorney and filed a lawsuit. (Perhaps he received informal advice from his brother-in-law Nathan Schatz, the Jewish attorney who was a rising figure in the Connecticut Republican party.) Goldberg’s lawsuit challenged the constitutional authority of the local government to block construction of a building on the arbitrary grounds that “neighbors do not want it.” The lawsuit spelled out how Goldberg employed a well-respected local architect, William T. Marchant, who designed the 80 by 60 foot store to conform with all aspects of the West Hartford building code. Furthermore, Marchant’s design would be attractive, similar in style to several homes and other buildings he had designed in the area, not an eyesore. Goldberg’s lawsuit claimed that West Hartford’s building inspector was “exceeding his constitutional rights,” even if the town government had delegated him “with such arbitrary powers.” This fight over issuing a building permit to a Jewish Hartford grocer grabbed large headlines, as shown in Figure 3.6, especially when compared to a similar rejection to local Protestant businessman Fred Kenyon two months earlier, which barely made it into the news.89

The controversy over granting a building permit to Jewish Hartford grocer Jacob Goldberg grabbed larger headlines than a similar conflict involving local Protestant real estate businessman Fred Kenyon. Source: Hartford Courant, February 7, 1923.

Figure 3.6: The controversy over granting a building permit to Jewish Hartford grocer Jacob Goldberg grabbed larger headlines than a similar conflict involving local Protestant real estate businessman Fred Kenyon. Source: Hartford Courant, February 7, 1923.

Initially, West Hartford leaders fought back against Goldberg. Town Council members voted in March 1923 to task their attorney, and also to retain the services of a second attorney, to defend their building inspector’s refusal to grant a permit. Behind the scenes, West Hartford’s attorneys realized that Goldberg had a strong case. Without a clearly-defined policy, a court might rule that the Town had refused to grant him a permit for arbitrary reasons, and might reduce the Town’s authority to reject other buildings in the future. Perhaps they also discussed the potential risks of bad press over a Protestant-led town government fighting to block a Jewish-owned grocery. In any case, the Town Council eventually relented. At the end of their June 1923 meeting, the Council went into a closed-door executive session, away from the press and the public. They quietly voted to approve Goldberg’s building permit, and also created a committee to review local ordinances on building restrictions in residential areas, to ensure they were on stronger legal footing next time. The Council succeeded in keeping the Goldberg controversy out of the headlines, at least temporarily. The following day’s news did not mention Goldberg by name, and only hinted at the end of the story that it was “unofficially rumored” that a permit would be granted.90

For a second time, West Hartford residents spoke out against Goldberg’s proposed store. A group of 14 local property owners protested at the next Town Council meeting, and were represented by a spokesperson: real estate businessman M. Martin Kupperstein, who also was one of the few Jewish residents in the neighborhood. Perhaps he was selected to counter any perceptions that their opposition was anti-Semitic. After Kupperstein urged the Council to reverse its decision, the Town Council’s attorney informed the protesters that they had examined Goldberg’s case “from every possible angle” and decided “it would be a poor policy for the town to attempt to withhold the permit.” To put it more simply, another council member stated that the Town would not prevail in court.91

Who were these West Hartford property owners, and what motivated their protests against Goldberg’s grocery store? With the exception of Kupperstein, none of their names appear in official minutes or news accounts of the two public hearings in 1923, nor do we have records of the words they spoke. Furthermore, while the Hartford Courant referred to this neighborhood as “one of West Hartford’s exclusive residential sections,” that description did not match Ardmore Road, where nearly every building was a two-family duplex, in contrast to several other nearby streets with more expensive single-family homes. Perhaps the relative affordability of two-family homes explained why Ardmore Road developed so rapidly, growing from 1 household in 1922 to over 40 households by 1926, according to city directory listings as shown in Table 3.1. Interestingly, the proportion of households with Jewish names rose from 0 out of 13 in 1923 to 8 out of 43 (nearly 20 percent) by 1926, meaning that Ardmore Road also attracted a larger percentage of Jewish residents than probably any other street in West Hartford at that time. Moreover, the Catholic Church purchased a large parcel of land in October 1923 on Farmington Avenue, near the Ardmore Road intersection, where they built St. Thomas the Apostle Church, a structure nearly as large as the nearby Armory. To be clear, we do not know precisely which families lived on Ardmore Road in early 1923, nor could they predict the future, but the Goldberg store controversy may have symbolized that their neighborhood was rapidly changing.92

Table 3.1: Households on Ardmore Road, 1922-26
Year Households Percent Jewish
1922 1
1923 13
1924 34
1925 41
1926 43 19%

After Jacob Goldberg finally won his building permit, Kingswood Market opened its doors for business in November 1924. He incorporated the business with his brother Barney and two brothers-in-law: attorney Nathan Schatz and Hyman M. Cohen, who managed the market. Jacob Goldberg also moved into the West Hartford neighborhood and purchased a single-family home on nearby Outlook Avenue. Two years later, the Goldberg family sold the business, and a series of owners continued to operate Kingswood Market for decades, until it was unable to compete against a much larger and more modern Whole Foods grocery store that opened four blocks away in 2005. Neighborhood residents mourned when Kingswood Market closed its doors in 2007.93.

The Town Council concluded this episode by announcing the creation of a new Zoning Commission in July 1923, to find a better way to deal with decisions over what kinds of buildings should be constructed in the future. But zoning was still a new concept, and the council did not yet have a clear idea of how it would work. At that same meeting, the attorney for Fred Kenyon, the local Protestant businessman whose public garage permit also had been rejected, sought to re-open the issue for his client. Since the Town granted a building permit to Goldberg, he argued, shouldn’t they also grant a permit to Kenyon? One Council member moved to refer the request to the brand-new Zoning Commission they had created a few minutes earlier, but Kenyon’s attorney objected because this entity “had not yet consulted any regulations.” The Council agreed with him, but then voted to refer Kenyon’s request back to the building inspector who had previously rejected it, which meant it went nowhere.94

Pressure continued to mount to define what zoning would mean for West Hartford. Simply put, town leaders were searching for a legally defensible policy that would prevent undesirable urban elements from entering their rapidly-growing suburb. While West Hartford property owners complained about grocery stores, public garages, and apartment buildings, these types of buildings symbolized their larger fears about Hartford city life—especially its growing population of immigrants in crowded tenements—invading their small town. They wanted zoning to protect them and their property values.


  1. Jacob Solomon Goldberg (1891-1939) and his wife Anna Miller Goldberg should not be confused with other Hartford residents with similar names. Jacob and his partners purchased and re-named the Guilfoil City Hall Grocery at 42 State Street, Hartford, in 1919. , “Second Anniversary: City Hall Grocery Celebrate Event with Special Sale,” Hartford Courant, March 4, 1921, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/556910904/citation/EE1EE7C7950F4DE3PQ/1; , “Kingswood Market Has Opening Today,” Hartford Courant, November 22, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553827702/abstract/805AA50C69BD44BAPQ/1; , “Jacob S. Goldberg Obituary,” Hartford Courant, December 20, 1939, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/559263239/citation/62D945CA6CE44030PQ/3; Connecticut State Board of Education, A Survey of the Schools of West Hartford (Hartford, 1923), https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100787377, p. 103.↩︎

  2. When David Goldberg died in 1924, his estate valued the property at $40,000, and Jacob and his mother Rachel became its administrators. , “David Goldberg Obituary,” Hartford Courant, April 25, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553648639/citation/8B13F3407C8F4BA6PQ/1; , “David Goldberg [Estate],” Hartford Courant, October 29, 1924, https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.trincoll.edu/historical-newspapers/mary-g-bingham-estate-333-694/docview/553830321/se-2?accountid=14405; , “In Probate Court [Goldberg],” Hartford Courant, May 11, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553742314/citation/49D98236446F4D8FPQ/1; Morris Silverman, Hartford Jews, 1659-1970 (Hartford: Connecticut Historical Society, 1970), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Hartford_Jews_1659_1970/Llk8AAAAIAAJ, p. 170. West Hill Grocery was located at 765 Farmington Avenue, near the corner of Whiting Lane, and M.J. Burnham’s was located at 19 South Main Street in West Hartford Center. Sanborn Map Company, Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from West Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, 1923, https://www.loc.gov/item/sanborn01194_001/; , Geer’s Hartford Directory, Including West Hartford and East Hartford, Connecticut (Hartford, Conn: Hartford Printing Company, 1923), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/1338432; Geoffrey Louis Rossano and Mary M. Donohue, Built to Serve: Connecticut’s National Guard Armories 1865-1940 (Hartford, Conn.: Connecticut Historical Commission, 2003), http://worldcat.org/oclc/52455387.↩︎

  3. , “Legal Fight For Store In Exclusive Section,” Hartford Courant, February 7, 1923, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553358624/abstract/BB63B923AF094563PQ/1. Images of Kingswood Market originally appeared in , “Kingswood Market 3rd Anniversary [Advertisement),” Hartford Courant, March 28, 1928, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/557481790/citation/805AA50C69BD44BAPQ/2; and courtesy of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society in Wilson H. Faude, West Hartford (Arcadia Publishing, 2004), https://books.google.com?id=ernPkuTE1N8C; , “Kingswood Market: West Hartford’s ’Thursday Throwback’” (We-Ha: West Hartford News, January 8, 2015), https://we-ha.com/west-hartfords-thursday-throwback-15/.↩︎

  4. No evidence of overt anti-Semitism appears in the newspaper accounts of public meetings, nor in the sparse minutes from town council meetings on the matter. Thanks to local historian Jeff Murray for his research and analysis on Fred Kenyon. West Hartford, “Town Council Meeting Minutes (Town Clerk, West Hartford, Connecticut, June 1923); , “West Hartford Has Zoning Commission,” Hartford Courant, July 18, 1923, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553441491/abstract/76D50A7CBB164588PQ/5; , “Land and House Restriction Case Heard in Court,” Hartford Courant, February 9, 1923, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553346686/abstract/89BA266AD5FD4663PQ/13; , “[Fred H. Kenyon] Dies at His Home In West Hartford,” Hartford Courant, October 1, 1937, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/558957948/citation/89BA266AD5FD4663PQ/10.↩︎

  5. John Higham, Strangers in the Land: Patterns of American Nativism, 1860-1925 (1955; repr., Rutgers University Press, 2002), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Strangers_in_the_Land/UzVhOx7WuMMC; Leonard Dinnerstein, Antisemitism in America (Oxford University Press, 1995), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Antisemitism_in_America/G2DnBwAAQBAJ; Wendy H. Bergoffen, “Jewish Experience at Amherst College,” in Amherst in the World, ed. Martha Saxton (Amherst College, 2020), https://doi.org/10.3998/mpub.11873533.↩︎

  6. David G Dalin and Jonathan Rosenbaum, Making a Life, Building a Community: The History of the Jews of Hartford (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1997), http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/502317401, pp. 10-13; Henry S. Cohn, “Civil Rights of Jews in Connecticut,” in A History of Jewish Connecticut: Mensches, Migrants and Mitzvahs, ed. Betty N. Hoffman (Arcadia Publishing, 2010), 21–24, https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_History_of_Jewish_Connecticut/o2l2CQAAQBA; Wesley W. Horton, The Connecticut State Constitution (Oxford University Press, 2011), https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Connecticut_State_Constitution/Du9MAgAAQBAJ, pp. 11-13; Nancy Finlay, “The Importance of Being Puritan: Church and State in Colonial Connecticut (ConnecticutHistory.org, September 2015), http://connecticuthistory.org/the-importance-of-being-puritan-church-and-state-in-colonial-connecticut/; Rebecca Furer, “Church and State in the ’Land of Steady Habits’” (Teach It, 2018), https://teachitct.org/lessons/church-state-in-the-land-of-steady-habits/.↩︎

  7. Silverman, Hartford Jews, 1659-1970, p. 170; , Geer’s Hartford Directory (Hartford, CT: Hartford Printing Company, 1912), https://www.ancestry.com/imageviewer/collections/2469/images/885752?ssrc=&backlabel=Return, p. 263; Sandra Hartwell Becker and Ralph L Pearson, “The Jewish Community of Hartford, Connecticut, 1880-1929,” American Jewish Archives 31, no. 2 (November 1979): 184–214, http://americanjewisharchives.org/publications/journal/PDF/1979_31_02_00_becker_pearson.pdf; Lawrence Veiller, “Housing Conditions and Tenement Laws in Leading American Cities,” in The Tenement House Problem, Volume 1, ed. Robert Weeks DeForest, The Rise of Urban America (New York: MacMillan, 1903), https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100857263, p. 155; Dalin and Rosenbaum, Making a Life, Building a Community, ch. 4; Peter Baldwin, Domesticating the Street: The Reform of Public Space in Hartford, 1850-1930 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1999), https://www.google.com/books/edition/Domesticating_the_Street/8aRAtAEACAAJ, ch. 7. On middle-class and poor Jewish neighborhoods in 1910s-20s, see Joseph E. Klau, “Oral History Interview by Joseph D. Hurwitz (Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, April 17, 1974), https://jhsgh.org, cited in Hutton, A Brief Look Back, p. 12.↩︎

  8. Silverman, Hartford Jews, 1659-1970, p. 86; Barry A. Lazarus, “The Practice of Medicine and Prejudice in a New England Town: The Founding of Mount Sinai Hospital, Hartford, Connecticut,” Journal of American Ethnic History 10, no. 3 (1991): 21–41, https://www.jstor.org/stable/27500839, p. 24; Dalin and Rosenbaum, Making a Life, Building a Community, pp. 59, 78-82, 174-75; Hutton, A Brief Look Back.↩︎

  9. Peter Knapp, Trinity College in the Twentieth Century: A History (Hartford Conn.: Trinity College, 2000), http://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/w_books/2/, pp. 57-61; Eric Stoykovich, “Availability of Trinity Board of Trustee Minutes [Email to Dougherty],” March 29, 2021. See 1823 College Charter reprinted in Trinity College, Bulletin (Catalogue) (Hartford CT, 1919), https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/bulletin/73, p. 12.↩︎

  10. Norris Galpin Osborn, “Flavel Sweeten Luther, Jr.” in Men of Mark in Connecticut: Ideals of American Life Told in Biographies and Autobiographies of Eminent Living Americans (W.R. Goodspeed, 1906), 125–29, https://books.google.com/books?id=ARFh_Sbpg84C&pg=PA125; , “Commencement [Photo],” Trinity Tripod, June 22, 1918, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3071&context=tripod; , “Dr. F.S. Luther, Educator, Is Dead,” New York Times, January 5, 1928, http://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1928/01/05/91673229.html; Glenn Weaver, The History of Trinity College (Hartford CT: Trinity College Press, 1967), https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/w_books/4/, pp. 264-68; , “Traditions: The Luther-Roosevelt Long Walk Inscription (Trinity College, 2020), https://www.trincoll.edu/abouttrinity/history-traditions/traditions/.↩︎

  11. 18 June 1915 Report by President Luther, read aloud at 21 June 1915 meeting, Trinity College, Board of Trustees Minutes, Volume 3 (1908-1926), 1926, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/trustees_mins/12, p. 169. Other Board members attending were Rev. Francis Goodwin (Hartford parks architect), Rev. William Vibbert (New York City rector), P. Henry Woodward (Hartford banker), Rev. Chauncey Brewster (New Haven rector), William C. Skinner (President of Colt’s Manufacturing), Ambrose Spencer Murray Jr., Hon. Frank L. Wilcox (Connecticut banker), Rev. Henry Ferguson, Edgar Waterman (Trinity treasurer), Edward B. Hatch (Hartford manufacturer), George D. Howell, Hon. Joseph Buffington (US Circuit Court judge), Robert Thorne, Rev. Samuel Hart (Divinity School dean). The 10 percent Jewish student estimate is based on 23 Jewish students in 1914-15 (p. 277) and a total enrollment of 257 students in 1913-14 (p. 297). , “Dr. F.S. Luther, Educator, Is Dead.↩︎

  12. 21 June 1915 meeting, Trinity College, Board of Trustees Minutes, Volume 3 (1908-1926), p. 169. On the small number of Black and Asian students at Trinity prior to the 1920s, see Knapp, Trinity College in the Twentieth Century, pp. 337-341.↩︎

  13. “Tripod Elections,” Trinity Tripod [Newspaper], May 7, 1918, https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=3076&context=tripod.↩︎

  14. President Luther report to Board of Trustees, 28 May 1918, read aloud at Board meeting, 14 June 1918 Trinity College, Board of Trustees Minutes, Volume 3 (1908-1926), pp. 276-278. On “White Jews,” see Karen Brodkin, How Jews Became White Folks and What That Says About Race in America (Rutgers University Press, 1998), https://books.google.com/books?id=itdBdt8OvMwC. Trinity re-instated compulsory chapel services on weekdays and Sundays in January 1919, “unless men are excused to attend church in town,” , “Compulsory Chapel at Trinity Again,” Hartford Courant, January 4, 1919, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/556660353/abstract/35FB0E56F7734710PQ/1.↩︎

  15. Student Movement for Americanization at Trinity resolutions, presented at 26 April 1919 Board meeting, Trinity College, Board of Trustees Minutes, Volume 3 (1908-1926), 320–21.↩︎

  16. Report of the Special Committee, presented at 20 June 1919 Board meeting, p. 329-330; Motion voted on at 20 June 1919 Board meeting, p. 333-334; 20 June 1919 Board of Fellows report, p. 335, Trinity College, Board of Trustees Minutes, Volume 3 (1908-1926); Trinity College, “Supplement to the Catalogue for Trinity College,” in Trinity College Bulletin, 1918 - 1919 (Hartford CT, 1918), https://digitalrepository.trincoll.edu/bulletin/74/; Davarian L. Baldwin, In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: How Universities Are Plundering Our Cities (Bold Type Books, 2021), https://www.google.com/books/edition/_/i0mkzQEACAAJ, pp. 26-27. No mention of the alien-residence policy appeared in the Trinity College Bulletin (Catalogue) from 1919 to 1923, the Trinity Student Handbook for 1922-1923 (no issues available prior to 1916-17), the Trinity Tripod student newspaper for 1919, or the Hartford Courant daily newspaper.↩︎

  17. Report of the Special Committee, presented at 20 June 1919 Board meeting, p. 329-330; Motion voted on at 20 June 1919 Board meeting, p. 333-334; 20 June 1919 Board of Fellows report, p. 335; 24 October 1919 Report of the Executive Committee to the Board, p. 341, Trinity College, Board of Trustees Minutes, Volume 3 (1908-1926).↩︎

  18. 17 June 1921 President Ogilby report to Board, p. 396; 18 June 1941 Board vote, p. 408; 28 October 1922, President Ogilby report to the Board, p. 439; 28 October 1922 Report of the Executive Committee, Trinity College, , p. 441. For comparisons with Harvard, Yale, and other institutions, see Marcia Synnott, The Half-Opened Door: Discrimination and Admissions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, 1900-1970 (Routledge, 2017), https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Half_Opened_Door/oRwuDwAAQBAJ; Jerome Karabel, The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005), https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Chosen/1Nf3FxMIEB8C.↩︎

  19. , “May Build Temple in West Hartford,” Hartford Courant, April 16, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553660370/citation/DCFCECD65A734AD3PQ/1; Rabbi Abraham Feldman, “Oral History Interview (The Peoples of Connecticut, Center for Oral History Interviews Collection, University of Connecticut Archives, October 21, 1974), http://hdl.handle.net/11134/20002:860341946, p. 19.↩︎

  20. Mount Sinai Hospital opening in Hartford Times 3 March 1923, cited in Lazarus, “The Practice of Medicine and Prejudice in a New England Town, p. 36; Leon Chameides, “Mount Sinai: Connecticut’s Only Jewish Hospital,” in A History of Jewish Connecticut: Mensches, Migrants and Mitzvahs, ed. Betty N. Hoffman (Arcadia Publishing, 2010), 32–35, https://www.google.com/books/edition/A_History_of_Jewish_Connecticut/o2l2CQAAQBA; , “Nursing Pioneer Dies at Age 86,” Hartford Courant, June 7, 1975, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/543929256/abstract/86070A0BE45B46EBPQ/2; Dalin and Rosenbaum, Making a Life, Building a Community, pp. 62, 78; Silverman, Hartford Jews, 1659-1970, p. 86; , “Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman Interview” (University of Hartford Early History Collection, June 12, 1967), http://hdl.handle.net/11134/550002:arch011av0006c; , “Rabbi Abraham Feldman Interview” (Jewish Historical Society of Greater Hartford, May 10, 1972), https://jhsgh.org/ohms-viewer/render.php?cachefile=29.xml; , “University of Hartford Early History Collection (University of Hartford Special Collections and Archives, 2005), http://archives.hartford.edu:8081/repositories/2/resources/166.↩︎

  21. , “Legal Fight for Store in Exclusive Section; , “William T. Marchant Collection” (Connecticut Historical Society eMuseum, 2021), http://emuseum.chs.org/emuseum/people/8245/william-t-marchant; Silverman, Hartford Jews, 1659-1970, p. 258. By comparison, the rejection of Fred Kenyon’s public garage permit at a December 14, 1922 public hearing was not reported at the time, and appeared near the bottom of a story six months later in , “West Hartford Has Zoning Commission.↩︎

  22. , “Demand Economy in West Hartford,” Hartford Courant, March 7, 1923, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553376988/abstract/BB63B923AF094563PQ/42; West Hartford, “Town Council Meeting Minutes, June 5, 1923, p. 210; , “West Hartford Tax to Be Collected,” Hartford Courant, June 6, 1923, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553457937/abstract/9D000C8C14E448AEPQ/2.↩︎

  23. West Hartford, “Town Council Meeting Minutes, June 19, 1923, p. 211; , “West Hartford Store Causes Protests,” Hartford Courant, June 20, 1923, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553416053/abstract/BB63B923AF094563PQ/3; , “Morris Martin Kupperstein Obituary,” Hartford Courant, June 22, 1938, https://www.newspapers.com/image/369879010/. Kupperstein resided at 847 Farmington Avenue, West Hartford, , Geer’s Hartford Directory, Including West Hartford and East Hartford, Connecticut, p. 466.↩︎

  24. , “Legal Fight for Store in Exclusive Section. Out of 54 buildings on Ardmore Road today, all appear to have been constructed as 2-family units except two addresses: 10 and 14. See Ardmore Road household data from Geer’s City Directory listings, 1922-26, and West Hartford Voting Registration Records for Ardmore Road (1920-1926; transcribed by Jeff Murray in 2017 from West Hartford Historical Society archives), both available at https://github.com/OnTheLine/otl-ardmore-road-wh.↩︎

  25. , “Kingswood Market Has Opening Today; , “[Kingswood Market] Corporation Papers Filed for Record,” Hartford Courant, November 21, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553847758/abstract/BB63B923AF094563PQ/15; , “City Hall Market and Kingswood Market (Ad),” Hartford Courant, November 28, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553818328/citation/805AA50C69BD44BAPQ/7; , “Kingswood Market 3rd Anniversary [Advertisement)”; , “Kingswood Building on Farmington Avenue Sold For $100,000 to Willis J. Gengras West Hartford,” Hartford Courant, September 2, 1926, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/557252686/abstract/805AA50C69BD44BAPQ/5; , “West Hartford Men Buy Two Buildings [Kingswood Market],” Hartford Courant: III, February 3, 1952; WFSB Eyewitness News, “Kingswood Market Closing?” (WFSB television broadcast video, Hartford CT, October 19, 2007), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDrOjqPBSAg; , “Kingswood Market Closing Doors” (The West Hartford Blog, October 19, 2007), https://whdad.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/kingswood-market-closing-doors/. Jacob Goldberg resided at 17 Outlook Avenue in late 1924, , “Building Permits Worth $367,098,” Hartford Courant, November 6, 1924, http://search.proquest.com/hnphartfordcourant/docview/553867283/abstract/9D21989B47CB4455PQ/1.↩︎

  26. , “West Hartford Has Zoning Commission.↩︎

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