Connecticut History en The Pride of Hartford <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">The largest artifact in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society is a nine-ton fire engine. When the </span>Clapp<span style="line-height: 1.5;"> &amp; Jones steam pumper was first purchased by the Hartford Fire Department, it was drawn by three big fire horses. In 1914, when the fire department was becoming motorized, the old pumper was fitted with a gas-electric tractor, prolonging its working life. It saw service in major Hartford fires for more than four decades.</span></p><p> Tue, 08 Jul 2014 12:38:15 +0000 Nancy Finlay 24906 at The Pride of Hartford Katharine Hepburn, Fenwick and the Hurricane of 1938 <p>Katharine Hepburn’s mother, “Kit” Hepburn, insisted that the Fenwick house would withstand the rising tides and the gale-force winds. After 25 summers spent with the extended Hepburn clan filling the house, it felt like a permanent fixture in their lives, and it remained a touchstone and retreat for daughter Katharine even after her Hollywood career brought her fame and success. Katharine had spent the morning outdoors, pursuing her usual Fenwick activities, playing nine holes of golf and swimming in the swelling surf. Fri, 27 Jun 2014 15:09:08 +0000 Jennifer Steadman 24395 at Katharine Hepburn, Fenwick and the Hurricane of 1938 American Chairs, Made in Connecticut <p>There is something very American about a Windsor chair. Although its name points to England, where the chair’s style and manufacture emerged in the early 1700s, this immigrant furniture found its way into every American home, from a restful rocker in a small Yankee farm house to the seats of the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.</p> Mon, 23 Jun 2014 13:26:21 +0000 Ben Gammell 24096 at American Chairs, Made in Connecticut A Fascination With Magic <p style="margin-bottom: 15px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-size: 15px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Georgia, Times, serif; line-height: 22px;">Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Doug Henning . . . Albert Walker? The first three names are well-known magicians. But who is Albert Walker?</p> Fri, 13 Jun 2014 19:29:30 +0000 Barbara Austen 23597 at A Fascination With Magic Fashion's Changing Silhouettes <p>Fashion has changed exponentially over the last two centuries. &nbsp; In the 1860s women wore thickly boned corsets, multiple petticoats, steel hoop skirts and dresses, always dresses. &nbsp;But between the 1860s and 1960s, women’s fashion shifted from grand hoop skirts to short miniskirts. &nbsp;</p><p></p> Fri, 06 Jun 2014 15:34:41 +0000 Karen DePauw 23182 at Fashion's Changing Silhouettes An Unlikely Pair of Portraits <p>The lovely lady with the eager look in her eyes is Etha Town, the daughter of Ithiel Town, a New Haven architect, and the inventor of the Town truss, used in covered bridges throughout the nineteenth century. The portrait of his daughter was painted in 1826, the year Etha married William Thompson Peters, a recent Yale graduate. She was 19 years old.</p> Fri, 30 May 2014 18:14:35 +0000 Nancy Finlay 22801 at An Unlikely Pair of Portraits A Revolution On Two Wheels: Columbia Bicycles <p class="p1"><span class="s1">The return of spring weather has prompted a marked increase in bicycle traffic all over Connecticut. Country roads, city streets, and scenic rail trails are filled with cyclists of all ages. But how many know that Connecticut played a prominent role in developing not just bicycles, but the market for them?</span></p> Fri, 23 May 2014 15:02:35 +0000 Richard C. Malley 22393 at A Revolution On Two Wheels: Columbia Bicycles Curtis Veeder Builds His Dream House <p>If you visit the Connecticut Historical Society, at One Elizabeth Street in Hartford, you will discover an unusual and intriguing building that was originally built as the home of industrialist Curtis Veeder. Veeder began to plan this house in 1925, and moved in with his wife and two daughters in 1928. &nbsp;He lived here until his death in 1943. Mrs.Veeder lived in the house until 1950 when she sold it to the Historical Society. It has been adapted for other uses, but it still reflects Curtis Veeder’s personality, talents, and interests. &nbsp;</p> Fri, 16 May 2014 20:22:46 +0000 Mary Muller 21980 at Curtis Veeder Builds His Dream House Hepburn Returns to Hartford <p>Katharine Hepburn’s relationship with Hartford was strong and deeply rooted; it was her birthplace, her hometown, and a place she both supported and to which she always came back.</p> Fri, 09 May 2014 19:05:45 +0000 Sierra Dixon 21574 at Hepburn Returns to Hartford Katharine Hepburn: The Personal Wardrobe of a Star <p class="p1"><span class="s1">From a very young age, Katharine Hepburn was a sporting enthusiast. She relished time spent outdoors playing golf, tennis, and swimming. In her film and stage career, she did many of her own stunts; even advancing age didn’t deter her. This love of movement and comfort greatly influenced her personal style. She held fast to her own informal style even while becoming one of Hollywood’s glamorous movie starlets.</span></p> Fri, 02 May 2014 12:52:44 +0000 Karen DePauw 21174 at Katharine Hepburn: The Personal Wardrobe of a Star Up from the Ashes: Fire at the Meriden Britannia Company <p>On July 16, 1870, a devastating fire destroyed the main building of the Meriden Britannia Company, in Meriden, Connecticut, an internationally famed producer of silver-plated ware. The 700-foot-long building employed over 900 people, including 100 women, all of whom were left temporarily without work. However, the building was fully insured, the loss was fully covered, and rebuilding began immediately, while work continued unabated at the company’s six other factories. Fri, 25 Apr 2014 14:54:06 +0000 Nancy Finlay 20781 at Up from the Ashes: Fire at the Meriden Britannia Company Yankee Ingenuity: Curtis Veeder, a Mechanical Genius and Shrewd Businessman <p align="center">&nbsp;</p> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:47:40 +0000 Mary Muller & Erin Strogoff 20370 at Yankee Ingenuity: Curtis Veeder, a Mechanical Genius and Shrewd Businessman Eyewitness to History: The Treasury Guard Regiment Flag <p>In 1864, President Lincoln ordered his executive departments to each raise a force of troops for the defense of Washington should it be threatened by Confederate forces. The Treasury Department raised a full regiment of citizen-soldiers, and the women employed there presented a custom set of colors to the unit. The canton of the national flag bore hand-painted patriotic images and a banner identifying the unit, which spent months drilling on a dusty lot in Washington. In April 1865 the unit held a ball at Ford’s Theater celebrating Lee’s surrender. Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:27:32 +0000 Richard C. Malley 20006 at Eyewitness to History: The Treasury Guard Regiment Flag Katharine Hepburn: Dressing a Star <p>Katharine Hepburn is known for her on-screen personality and her off-screen style. &nbsp;In reality, the two were closely intertwined, since she used style, both on and off-screen, as a powerful reflection of character.&nbsp;</p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 19:17:19 +0000 Karen DePauw 19603 at Katharine Hepburn: Dressing a Star The Adventure of a Lifetime: John Ledyard and Captain Cook’s Last Voyage <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In 1783, as Americans adjusted to peace time following the Revolutionary War, a young man’s incredible adventure story was published in Hartford. John Ledyard’s <i>Journal of</i> <i>Captain Cook’s Last Voyage </i>recounted Ledyard’s travels with the world-famous British explorer on his third and last exploration of the Pacific Ocean. Fri, 28 Mar 2014 13:57:57 +0000 Ben Gammell 19203 at The Adventure of a Lifetime: John Ledyard and Captain Cook’s Last Voyage A Woman Ahead of her Time: Mabel Osgood Wright <p>Few professions were available to women in the second half of the 19<sup>th</sup> century, and certainly not the medical profession. Although thwarted in her ambition to become a doctor, Mabel Osgood Wright made a name for herself as both a writer and a photographer.</p> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 13:46:52 +0000 Barbara Austen 18923 at A Woman Ahead of her Time: Mabel Osgood Wright Behind the Stockade: Andersonville Prison <p>Prisoners of war have long been an emotional subject. From 17<sup>th</sup> Century conflicts with Native Americans to the war in Afghanistan, the fate of POWs has aroused deep concern. Tales of mistreatment and brutality, from the notorious British prison hulks of the American Revolution to Vietnam’s “Hanoi Hilton” and beyond, have spurred contemporaries to protest and moved later generations to ponder man’s inhumanity to man.</p> Fri, 14 Mar 2014 14:53:17 +0000 Richard C. Malley 18430 at Behind the Stockade: Andersonville Prison Frances Laughlin Wadworth: Sculpting the Past <p>Frances Laughlin Wadsworth certainly left her mark on the art world.&nbsp; She also left it scattered about the city of Hartford.&nbsp; Frances Laughlin was born in Buffalo, New York, on June 11, 1909 to Frank and Martha Laughlin. She graduated from St. Catherine’s School in Richmond, Virginia, and studied art in Europe under the tutelage of famous sculptors.&nbsp; An avid painter as well as sculptor, Frances identified painting as more of a hobby, like her interest in gardening, than as a serious art endeavor in line with her sculpture.</p> Fri, 07 Mar 2014 16:59:30 +0000 Karen DePauw 18046 at Frances Laughlin Wadworth: Sculpting the Past The Great Ice Storm of 1898 <p>Ice. It is both a beauty and a menace, often simultaneously. From February 20 to February 22, 1898, an ice storm swept through northwestern Connecticut, coating tree branches and utility wires.</p><p>Roads were treacherous and slippery. Tree branches, weighed down with ice, broke and fell, rendering some streets impassable. The storm knocked out electricity and telegraph and telephone communications, and closed the trolley lines in parts of the state. The railroad trains kept running, though their tracks had to be cleared of branches and debris, and they arrived well behind schedule.</p> Fri, 28 Feb 2014 16:51:14 +0000 Tasha Caswell 17708 at The Great Ice Storm of 1898 Battling Bat Battalino: One of Hartford’s Heroes <p><span style="line-height: 1.5;">From the streets of Hartford to Madison Square Garden was a giant leap for featherweight boxer Christopher “Bat” </span>Battalino<span style="line-height: 1.5;">. B</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">orn in Hartford in 1908,&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5;">Battalino&nbsp;quit Brown School after the fifth grade to work in a tobacco factory. He got his boxing start in amateur bouts, and went all the way to the national amateur featherweight championship before turning pro when he was 21 years old.</span></p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 15:45:57 +0000 Mike Messina 17320 at Battling Bat Battalino: One of Hartford’s Heroes The Sweetheart’s Portrait <p class="p1"><span class="s1">In the 1860s, the Kellogg brothers of Hartford, Connecticut published a lithograph called “The Sweetheart’s Portrait.” The print was so popular that it was reissued at least once and it was also reproduced as a photograph.&nbsp; It shows two fluffy white cats playing with a small oval painted portrait of a young woman attached to a ribbon and chain.&nbsp; Such portraits had gone out of fashion twenty years earlier, when photography replaced painting as the primary means of portraiture.</span></p> Mon, 17 Feb 2014 17:41:20 +0000 Nancy Finlay 17101 at The Sweetheart’s Portrait Black on White: Silhouettes of Hartford’s Morgan Family <p>Made of cut paper, silhouettes present a black image on a white background. The technique was widely used for small profile portraits, which enjoyed great popularity in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In an age before photography, a silhouette was an inexpensive way to record the features of a loved one. Many were the work of itinerant artists who traveled from town to town cutting portraits.</p> Fri, 07 Feb 2014 19:41:21 +0000 Nancy Finlay 16646 at Black on White: Silhouettes of Hartford’s Morgan Family Connecticut Yankee and Millstone: 46 Years of Nuclear Power <p>Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Company, Connecticut’s first nuclear power plant, began commercial operation, in Haddam Neck, on January 1, 1968. It was a time of high expectations for the economic potential of peaceful nuclear energy. An enthusiastic 1962 article in the <em>Hartford Courant,</em> titled “Atoms Now Power Homes,” predicted that nuclear power would soon compete with coal and oil. New England’s first station, Yankee Rowe, had begun operation in Massachusetts in 1961. Fri, 31 Jan 2014 20:36:21 +0000 Ben Gammell 16286 at Connecticut Yankee and Millstone: 46 Years of Nuclear Power The Astronomical Event of the Century <p>Snow covered the ground and the temperature hovered at zero degrees on the morning of January 24, 1925. Businesses were closed—or planned to open late—as crowds gathered on hilltops and rooftops throughout Connecticut. Special trains brought visitors from Boston and elsewhere in Massachusetts and scientists from around the country joined colleagues at Yale, Wesleyan, and Trinity. The sun had come up as normal, but about 8:30 am it began to grow dark again, as the moon passed between the earth and the sun. Fri, 24 Jan 2014 16:47:15 +0000 Nancy Finlay 15903 at The Astronomical Event of the Century Dressing Gowns: Loungewear of Old <p>Today many people cannot wait to arrive home after a long day at work and exchange their work clothes for something more relaxing, comfortable, and cozy. This is not a new phenomenon. Even before the nineteenth century, men and women sometimes wore informal and less confining clothing at home and in informal social settings. These dressing gowns, as they were primarily known, allowed people to appear fashionable while remaining comfortable.</p> Fri, 17 Jan 2014 19:59:09 +0000 Karen DePauw 15609 at Dressing Gowns: Loungewear of Old Tragedy at Tariffville: The Railroad Wreck of 1878 <p>The year 2013 was not a great one for the Metro-North Commuter Railroad, with a collision, a major power outage, and, most recently a fatal derailment making the six o’clock news around the country. What this series of mishaps actually points out, however, is that when one considers the number of freight, passenger and commuter trains running in this country, rail travel is still a pretty safe way to get around. This was not the case a century or more ago, when railroad accidents and disasters were frequent and deadly. Fri, 10 Jan 2014 21:20:45 +0000 Richard C. Malley 15276 at Tragedy at Tariffville: The Railroad Wreck of 1878 From Kiln to Collection: Norwich Pottery and Its Makers <p>Stoneware was the commonest form of houseware in America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.&nbsp; Americans started making stoneware in the early 1700s. One of Connecticut's first potteries began making stoneware in Norwich as early as 1769.</p> Fri, 03 Jan 2014 18:29:55 +0000 Sierra Dixon 14906 at From Kiln to Collection: Norwich Pottery and Its Makers Skating Through Winter <p>The centuries-old tradition of ice skating during the winter season began as a simple way to get from place to place. However, by the 1850s, better-designed skates and the increased interest in outdoor activities made ice skating a popular leisure activity. Skaters might be found on virtually any frozen body of water: small ponds, rivers, even town reservoirs.</p> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 22:55:18 +0000 Karen DePauw 14618 at Skating Through Winter What Did Santa Bring? Presents Under the Tree 100 Years Ago <p><em>"For Muriel Armstrong From Santa" </em>These words are written on a child’s easel blackboard sitting next to a tree decorated with tinsel, beads, glass ornaments and even an American flag. Other presents, including dolls, a sewing set, Bradley’s Toy Village, and “Denslow’s One Ring Circus and Other Stories” surround the tree. This black and white photograph captures the Christmas morning scene for a comfortable Connecticut family about 100 years ago. Fri, 20 Dec 2013 16:00:33 +0000 Mary Muller 14284 at What Did Santa Bring? Presents Under the Tree 100 Years Ago An Inconvenient Season: Charlotte Cowles’s Letters from December 1839 <p>Today we do not think of Farmington and Hartford being distant from each other, but in 1839 it was a journey not to be taken lightly. That is why Charlotte Cowles in Farmington wrote frequently to her brother Samuel in Hartford, asking him to do errands for her. On December 5, 1839, she requested that he procure the type of whale bones generally used in bonnets from Mrs. Orcutt, a milliner. Charlotte also asked him to find a yard and three quarters of “backing” to put under the stove in their keeping room. Fri, 13 Dec 2013 16:53:47 +0000 Barbara Austen 13905 at An Inconvenient Season: Charlotte Cowles’s Letters from December 1839