May 15: “Queen of Mean” Leona Helmsley Checks Into Danbury Prison

  Leona Helmsley was one of the most infamous celebrity billionaires of late 20th century New York, a hotel and real estate magnate who gained national notoriety for her reportedly tyrannical treatment of her staff.   The wife of hotelier Harry Helmsley, Leona became the face of a marketing campaign that cast her as a “queen”…

May 14: Author, War Chaplain, & Yale President Timothy Dwight IV

  Today in 1752, Timothy Dwight IV, scholar, minister, and one of a group of early American poets and writers known as the Hartford Wits, was born.   The eldest of 13 children born into an influential family in Massachusetts, Dwight graduated from Yale College in 1769 and shortly thereafter decided to dedicate his life to…

May 13: Hartford’s Pope Company Debuts Electric Automobile in 1897

  On this date in 1897, outside his factory in Hartford, successful bicycle manufacturer Albert Augustus Pope unveiled what he considered to be the future of the automobile industry: the battery-powered Columbia Motor Carriage.  It was the first demonstration of a mass-produced electric car in American history. Weighing in at 1800 pounds and reaching a…

May 12: Katharine Hepburn born in Hartford

  Today in 1907, film star Katherine Hepburn was born in Hartford.  Widely considered to be one of the greatest film and theater actresses in American history, Hepburn holds the record for the most Academy Awards ever won by an actor or actress (four) and starred in over 80 feature films, TV shows, and stage…

May 11: Connecticut’s Old State House Opens in 1796

  At the historic center of Hartford stands the Old State House, a beautiful federal-era building that served as Connecticut’s capitol for 83 years.  Designed by pioneering American architect Charles Bulfinch, the State House opened for business today in 1796, as the state legislature met insides its spacious chambers for the first time. Built with…

May 10: Connecticans Ethan Allen & Benedict Arnold Capture Fort Ticonderoga

  Today in 1775, two Connecticut-born patriots — Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold — forced the surrender of British-held Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York in one of the most significant strategic victories in the early years of the American Revolution. Fort Ticonderoga was first built by French forces in 1755 at a critical location…

May 9: Radical Abolitionist John Brown Born in Torrington

  On this day in 1800, abolitionist John Brown was born in a humble saltbox house in Torrington, Connecticut. The fourth of eight children, Brown left Torrington at the age of five when his father moved his family to the Western Reserve of Ohio.   As a young man, Brown briefly returned to Connecticut to attend…

May 8: Author and Illustrator Maurice Sendak Dies

  Today in 2012, longtime Connecticut resident Maurice Sendak died in Danbury from complications following a stroke.  Sendak was a prolific childrens’ book author and illustrator who wrote and illustrated dozens of books for over a fifty-year period.  Born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1928, Sendak was a self-taught illustrator who found work…

May 7: Edwin Land, Inventor & Founder of Polaroid

  Today in 1909, Edwin Land, a self-taught inventor and co-founder of Polaroid who revolutionized the way the world experienced photography, was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut. After graduating from the Norwich Free Academy in southeastern Connecticut (which later named their library after their famous alumnus), Land attended Harvard University for one year before dropping out…

May 6: The Hartford Whalers Leave CT

  May 6, 1997 marks a day that will forever live in infamy in the eyes of Connecticut sports fans.  On that day, Peter Karmanos, owner of the Hartford Whalers, announced that he was moving the NHL team to North Carolina and renaming them the Carolina Hurricanes.  Connecticut has lacked a major professional sports franchise…

May 5: Mary Kies Becomes First Woman to Receive a U.S. Patent

  On this day in 1809, Mary Kies of Killingly, Connecticut became the first woman in American history to obtain a patent.  Kies’ invention was described as “a new and useful improvement in weaving straw with silk or thread.” Little is known about Kies or the specifics of her patent, which was destroyed in 1836…

May 4: Hudson River School Artist Frederic Edwin Church born in Hartford

  On this day in 1826, iconic American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church was born in Hartford, Connecticut.  The internationally-renowned artist’s Connecticut roots ran deep: He was a direct descendant of one of the original English Puritans who settled Hartford under the leadership of Thomas Hooker, and Frederic’s father was a prominent silversmith and later…