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Hartford wants to open a center to celebrate Puerto Rican community, culture and history

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin announces inside the boarded up Sacred Heart Church that City has issued an RFP has officially began a process to create on the site Puerto Rican Cultural Center.
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
Mayor Luke Bronin announces inside the boarded up Sacred Heart Church in Hartford that city has issued an RFP and officially started the process to create a Puerto Rican cultural center on the site.

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The city of Hartford has announced plans for a Puerto Rican cultural center.

Officials want to help create a place for the local Puerto Rican community to call home — a spot in the city’s North End that would preserve history and celebrate culture through programming and activities.

The center will be located at the site of the now-shuttered Sacred Heart Church, which the city bought last year. The church is meaningful to State Rep. Jimmy Sánchez, D-Hartford, who was baptized at Sacred Heart and worshipped there when he was younger.

“This has always been and will be the center and the hub of the Puerto Rican community,” Sanchez said Thursday at a press conference inside the church. “Puerto Ricans who arrived from Puerto Rico arrived here and settled in this very area.”

Community leaders and elected officials gathered at the church to announce the news. The city will eventually select a company to lead the planning process to create the center. The city's seeking proposals this month.

The cultural center is an exciting project, said Fernando Betancourt, executive director of Hartford's San Juan Center. Sacred Heart was an “incubator” of groups and efforts that benefited the local Puerto Rican community, he said.

“This is an opportunity for the further development of the Puerto Rican community ... not only historically, but in recognition of our many, many contributions,” he said. “We have a rich history, rich culture and we ... contribute and continue to contribute.”

HARTFORD, CONN (November 1, 2023) - Tomorrow at 12 PM, Mayor Luke Bronin, Council President Maly Rosado, State Representative Jimmy Sanchez, and other local officials and leaders will announce that the City of Hartford is beginning the process of establishing a Puerto Rican Cultural Center. The center will be located at the site of the Sacred Heart Church at 24 Ely Street, which is strategically located in the vicinity of the Arrowhead Gateway and was purchased by the City late last year. The City has issued an RFP and is accepting proposals to select an entity that will lead a planning process to create a center that honors and celebrates the City's vibrant Puerto Rican community. (Mark Mirko/Connecticut Public)
Mark Mirko
Connecticut Public
Sacred Heart Church has long been a center of Hartford's Puerto Rican culture.

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