Charles J. Bennett GP’55

Charles J. Bennett GP’55

Charles J. Bennett, a friend of Trinity College, was a member of the Connecticut Society of Civil Engineers. Mr. Bennett was a consulting engineer for Trinity College for several years and supervised many details in the construction of the Trinity Chapel. After serving as the superintendent of streets in Hartford, Governor Simeon E. Baldwin appointed him state highway commissioner in 1913. Mr. Bennett was responsible for organizing the department into the divisions of construction, maintenance, and accounting. He divided the state into seven highway districts, and assigned each to an engineer who was responsible for reviewing all state-aided local road projects. Mr. Bennett’s main objective was to upgrade the trunk line system to make it passable for cars and trucks.

In 1915, he convinced the General Assembly to grant his office authority over all the state’s bridges. In 1916, the Highway Department gained the benefit of federal matching funds to support the state’s construction program. Mr. Bennett devoted most of the federal money to bridge reconstruction and removal of dangerous road conditions such as poor paving, sharp curves, and hills. The federal money also enabled the department to begin improving the river crossings in the state, and Mr. Bennett oversaw the implementation of drawbridges in the heaviest traveled shoreline areas of Westport, Stratford, and Mystic.

Mr. Bennett had a private civil engineering firm, Bennett and Terry, beginning in 1928 until his death in 1941. In addition to his private engineering business, he continued to consult on engineering projects for the city. He was appointed to the Building Commission in 1929 and later served as its chairman. He was named to the Park Board in 1934, having been named to the Regional Planning Board six years prior. In 1936, Mr. Bennett was named executive secretary of the Mayor’s Flood Commission. During his service, he recommended constructing protective flood works to a height of 45 feet, compared to the War Department’s recommendation of 39 feet.

Mr. Bennett was a trustee of the University of Connecticut, the Newington Home for Crippled Children, the Connecticut Institute for the Blind, and the North End Federated Clubs. He was a member and president of the University Club of Hartford and the City’s Engineer’s Club. He graduated from Union College in 1901 with a civil engineering degree. He received an honorary M.A. from Yale in 1922 and a M.S. from Union College in 1926.

Charles’ grandson, Dr. Bennett Dyke, graduated from Trinity in 1955 with a B.A. in English and French.

Rotary Club of Hartford
The Rotary Club of Hartford was officially established in July 1911 as a men’s business club. In 1986, the Hartford Club amended its by-laws to admit women, a year prior to the Supreme Court mandating that women be admitted. The Club has seen extensive expansion into surrounding towns including East Hartford, Wethersfield, Manchester, Avon, and Farmington.

The Club’s community outreach programs involve everything from helping with the annual Hartford Marathon to providing high school students networking opportunities with local business leaders to the establishment of a student exchange program with Hartford’s sister city, Hertford, England.