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Connecticut Historical Society

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The oldest State House in America is now closed to the public amid Connecticut’s budget problems. In addition, millions of dollars worth of artwork could be removed from the building.

Doug Butchy / Creative Commons

At 220 years old, Hartford’s Old State House is a relic from the past. It’s even thought to be inhabited by ghosts from our state’s history. But this Connecticut treasure is now closed to the public and it may even lose its historic memorabilia -- the result of the state’s ongoing budget problems. This hour, we examine the history of the Old State House and discuss what the future holds for the building

Ray Hardman / WNPR

Over the last year, the Connecticut Historical Society has been traveling the state asking residents "what was it like growing up in Connecticut?" 

John Haley / Connecticut Historical Society

This hour, a panel of experts and historians gives us an in-depth look at the life and legacy of Beatrice Fox Auerbach, owner and CEO of Connecticut's most beloved department store, G. Fox and Co. 

From the Hand of the Master: The Signs of William Rice

Dec 26, 2014
the Connecticut Historical Society

Highway travel today is notable for the number of services available on both interstate and secondary roads. Automobile fuel and repairs, food, and lodging are just some of the amenities available, all easily located thanks to an abundance of signs large and small.

Hartford Seen: Photographs By Pablo Delano

Dec 19, 2014
Pablo Delano

Houses, apartments, businesses, schools, places of worship. Like all cities, Hartford’s built environment—its physical structures and shape—has changed over time for many different reasons. As the population grows and changes, different voices influence the city’s identity, and new building materials and resources become available (or disappear). This year, with a series of onsite and offsite exhibits, the Connecticut Historical Society is exploring the history of Hartford’s modern cityscape, as well as the city’s urban spaces today.

Finding a Home For Connecticut History

Dec 12, 2014

The Connecticut Historical Society moved into its current headquarters building at One Elizabeth Street in Hartford in 1950. However, the organization pre-dates the move to this location by more than 100 years and it had several earlier locations.  The CHS was founded in 1825 and is one of the oldest state historical societies in the country.

Busy Sidewalks and Wonderful Memories

Dec 5, 2014
The Connecticut Historical Society, Ephemera Collection

Right after Thanksgiving, G. Fox & Company decorated their magnificent store. People from across the state drove into Hartford just to marvel at the marquee. In the 1950s it featured big candles and colorful boxes. However, the marquee most people remember was the charming Colonial Village. The village included small replicas of Colonial churches and houses from across Connecticut. The front display windows were also festive and inviting. Children pressed their noses to the glass to get a better look at the brightly lit mechanical ice skating animals.

The Interstate Highway System Comes to Hartford

Nov 28, 2014
Connecticut Historical Society, 2003.191.4

Beginning in the mid-1930s, state and federal governments examined ways to improve road transportation around the country. While some federal roads linked major population centers, most areas still struggled with a variety of state, county and town roads, ranging in condition from decent to abominable. With the run-up to World War II the federal government looked for ways to improve transportation that would be needed if the U.S. went to war. 

The Most Modern Room in the House

Nov 21, 2014

In a November 1934 article, Agnes Heisler Barton recognized the kitchen as the most modern room in the house.  Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, kitchens changed more radically than other rooms.  The styles of chairs and other furnishings might change, but a new appliance for cooking might easily be a brand new invention.

Life After the Last Shift

Nov 14, 2014
Connecticut Historical Society Gift of the Richard Welling family, 2012.284.5705

What do the Bigelow Carpet Company of Enfield, Underwood Typewriter Company of Hartford, and Cheney Brothers Silk Manufacturing Company of Manchester have in common? They, and many other companies, had factories in Connecticut which survive to this day, while the companies that built them do not.

Typing History

Nov 10, 2014
The Connecticut Historical Society, 1976.89.2

Before the age of the computer, typewriters fulfilled our need to write faster than our pens would allow.  The gentle click of keys on a keyboard are no match for the loud strikes of a letter key pressing paper to inked ribbon and platen to create an inked letter upon a clean white page.  The end of a line of type was signaled by the loud ding of a bell followed by the slamming of the carriage as a new, fresh line of paper appeared. 

The Pettibone Ghost

Oct 31, 2014

Just off Route 202 in Simsbury is the former Pettibone Tavern, a local landmark that has served travelers since 1780. Built by Jonathon Pettibone Jr., the establishment became an important stop along the Boston-to-Albany Turnpike and hosted important figures like George Washington and John Adams.

Hair Jewelry: Remembrance That Never Dies

Oct 24, 2014
The Connecticut Historical Society, Gift of Dorothy Filley Bidwell, 1957.18.17

The 19th century saw an explosion in the popularity of jewelry made from human hair. Because hair does not decompose after its removal from the body, it was considered a symbol of eternal life. Locks of hair were often given as tokens of friendship, love, or grief and these locks were sometimes incorporated into jewelry. In the mid-19th century, enterprising jewelry makers braided, wove, and sewed hair into such keepsakes, offering a variety of shapes and sizes.

Connecticut Historical Society, serial 681.14v417vd

When visitors to the Connecticut Historical Society are told the building was once the home of Hartford industrialist Curtis Veeder, their first question often is: “Did he have anything to do with the Veeder-Root Company?” Curtis Veeder did, in fact, start the Veeder Manufacturing Company, one of the two companies which merged in 1928 to form Veeder-Root. Many area residents know someone who worked for this company which began making devices that “count everything on earth” and continues today as the “the number one supplier of automated tank gauges in the world.”

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