Probably the most memorable image of the 1955 flood for Torrington is that of the large white building with the large cupola on top. The ravages of the flood so evident with half of one side ripped open exposing second story floors no longer supported by the outer wall leaning down to touch the first level. The building leaning towards the river, the sides crumpling as if begging for the water to finish what it started. Almost any picture of downtown Torrington’s flood damage has this building somewhere in it. Either as the focal point to highlight the damage of the flood or in the background its unique features crying out to not forget it.
Yet in photo after photo the caption reference Center Bridge or Center Square almost ignoring the huge building that was decimated there. The Central Hotel was its name although good luck finding it, as when the flood waters washed away its structure it seemed to wash away its name and history with it.
The first picture is of the Central Hotel in quieter times (Actually it was the Farnham House Hotel at that time). The photo is circa 1905 and gives a good feel for its exact location, just across the bridge on South Main Street.
An add in The Julius Cahn-Gus Hill Theatrical Guide referenced the Farnham Hotel
By 1949 buildings and billboards hid all but the cupola from Main Street by the Conley Inn (or as we know it now the Yankee Pedlar Inn.
It made a nice backdrop for people watching the Memorial Day Parade from Coe Park as they were in this 1954 picture, just a little over one year before it was the victim of the flood (photo is from Richard Pope, a local genealogist that has shared a lot of great old picture’s on the Torrington groups on Facebook).
And then the water came.
Taking away part of this building and leaving it leaning and broken.
With streets filled with mud as payment for its rampage.
One year later the Central Hotel was just a memory.