About the Author: Thomas H. Alton

I was born on January 9, 1958 in Manchester, Connecticut, a city located about eight miles east of Hartford.  I grew up in Bolton, a small rural town just east of Manchester.   My parents were chiropractors and had their practices in Bolton.  

After I attended local schools in Bolton and Manchester, I went on to Boston College, where I would receive my undergraduate degree in history and French in 1980.  One highlight of my university years was my trip to Paris in 1979 after my junior year to take courses in French art, language,  and history.  In addition to my visits to important art museums and monuments in the Paris region, I also visit the department stores in Paris to compare and contrast the operations and architectures of that city’s stores with those of American stores.

After college, I held various positions, ranging from that of a bank teller, to a driver for a Stamford-based limousine service.  Although I had lived in New Haven, Bridgeport, and New York City, I was mindful of my Connecticut heritage.  I was also keenly aware of Connecticut’s architectural heritage.   I now live in Philadelphia, a city that has a long heritage in the arts and sciences.  I now work as a title searcher and participate in that city’s arts.  I am a member of Choral Arts Philadelphia as well as a member of my local church’s choral group.  Yet, during my vacations, I do return to Connecticut and visit sites that remind me of my family heritage.  Currently, my brother and I are working on our family genealogy and can now number several founders of the City of Hartford among our ancestors.  

My interest in G. Fox and Company’s history began shortly after that store had closed in 1993.  My family were frequent shoppers there during my childhood and youth.  G. Fox was one of Hartford’s most important landmarks and I felt that future generations should know what was like to visit such a store.  Luckily, the Connecticut Historical Society had a good collection of documents and memorabilia relating to G. Fox and, during my annual visits to the CHS, I look forward to uncovering a new story that made the store so special for generations of Connecticut families.  I am also planning to write an imaginary account of a visit to G. Fox & Company in the present time–a ‘what if’ scenario if that store had survived the economic and social upheavals of the past several decades.  It should be noted that a few European stores continue to operate to this day, notably Harrods of London, Kaufhaus des Westerns (KaDeWe)of Berlin, and the Galeries Lafayette and Printemps stores in Paris.

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