Who's Who in Asylum Hill

Who's Who in Asylum Hill
Henry Green, who lived at 50 Ashley Street, was an early pioneer in the study of X-rays. In fact, he perfected a vacuum tube that focused X-rays and made them the practical diagnostic tool that they are today.

Henry was an immigrant from Birmingham, England by way of Canada, and he settled in Hartford in 1888. He went to work for and eventually took over the Aetna Electric Company, and then as his business in X-ray technology took off he formed a company, Green & Bauer, with John Bauer, a glassblower who also worked for Aetna Electric Company.

Not all of Henry's inventions were practical. At one point he patented a coin-operated X-ray device that would allow users to see inside just about anything. He also conducted numerous demonstrations around town, including several in conjunction with professors at Trinity College, and he may have been a part of the "X-ray parties" that were all the rage at the turn of the 20th century. In fact, Mark Twain is said to have held such a party at his house -- so of course we're looking for any evidence that Henry knew Sam.

Unfortunately, no one fully understood the dangers inherent to X-rays after they were discovered in 1895. Henry's work eventually poisoned him, and he became part of a long list of "martyrs to science," as did his partner John Bauer and another Asylum Hill resident, Burton Baker.

Henry is a great example of the people who make up Asylum Hill -- often unsung, but always making powerful contributions to society. Upon his death in 1914, the American Journal of Roetgenology described Henry as having done "more for the advancement of X-ray tubes than any one man in their manufacture." If you have the chance, pass by Henry's old house at 50 Ashley at some point -- it's part of the Gardens of Ashley self-guided tour -- and remember Henry the next time you have an X-ray at either your next doctor's or your next dentist's appointment.

Sources: Hartford Courant & the American Journal of Roetgenology