February 26: The Rise and Fall of Manchester’s Silk Industry

  Of all the many factories and diverse industries that sprang up across Connecticut during the Industrial Revolution of the early 19th century, one of the longest lasting was the silk-spinning industry, which coalesced around the Cheney Brothers silk mills in Manchester. Opening their first silk-processing mill in 1838, the Cheney brothers sought to capitalize…

February 20: Patriotic Connecticut Women Organize For “God, Home, and Country”

  Following the centennial of American Independence in 1876, numerous civic organizations and heritage societies sprang up across the United States in response to increased national interest in early American history. In many cases, however, civically inclined women met with frustration when they were barred from joining prominent clubs founded by men. In 1890, after…

February 18: The Wiffle Ball Hits It Out of the Park

  One summer evening in 1953, David N. Mullany, a father, former college baseball player, and recently laid off salesman, was watching his son attempt to play baseball with his friends in the backyard of their Fairfield, Connecticut home when a curious idea came to him. The boys were playing with a broomstick and perforated…

February 14: Survivor of A Great Industrial Meltdown

  In the rural town of East Canaan, along the banks of the Blackberry River, there stands a curious rectangular tower. It is constructed of massive slabs of marble and reaches 40 feet high, with walls 30 feet wide at its base. The isolated tower is the last surviving example of the 19th century blast…

February 13: A Greenwich Girl with Great Hair Ices Olympic Gold

  Today in 1976, a 19-year-old ice skater born in Greenwich captivated audiences worldwide with her masterful, gold-medal-winning performance at the  Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria. Her near perfect routine would catapult her to international stardom and, along with a unique hair style that created a national craze, also set Dorothy Hamill on a path…

February 12: England’s Most Famous Detective Was Born in Hartford

  A scion of one of Connecticut’s oldest and most prominent families, world-famous actor and playwright William Hooker Gillette, was born in Hartford in 1853. Drawn early to the theater arts, he left the city at the age of 20 to seek his fortune as an actor and stage producer. He met with moderate success…

February 9: Connecticut’s 1st African-American Congressman

  Today in 1953, future Congressman Gary A. Franks was born in Waterbury, the youngest of six children in a family of limited means. His parents put a high value on education, and all six of their children went to college, and three obtained doctoral degrees. Gary was an All State high school basketball player…

February 5: The Stray New Haven Pup Who Became an American War Hero.

  Today in 1918, an unlikely future war hero in the shape of a small, short-tailed puppy arrived at the front lines in France alongside the 102nd Regiment of the Yankee Division, a unit of mostly Connecticut soldiers recruited in New Haven. Named “Stubby” by his comrades because of his tiny tail, the contraband puppy…

February 2: The World’s First Two-Sided Building

Today in 1961, the Phoenix Mutual Life Insurance Company unveiled plans for a new corporate headquarters building in downtown Hartford, featuring a bold and revolutionary elliptical design unlike anything the city — or the world, for that matter — had seen before. Designed by the famous modernist architect Max Abramovitz, the new Phoenix Mutual Life…

January 27: His Big Idea Didn’t Have a Prayer

Willard C. Fisher was one of a handful of early 20th century professors at Middletown’s Wesleyan University who gained national recognition — although in his case through controversy, not his economics lectures. Professor Fisher was a strong-willed man who never hesitated to voice his opinions, regardless of whose sensibilities he might offend. But he was…

January 25: A Building Built for the Battles to Come

  Today in 1940, nearly 3000 people came to East Hartford to go on a three-quarter mile walking tour of a brand new two-million-dollar factory expansion at the Pratt and Whitney Aircraft company. The 280,000 square foot expansion, for which planning had begun the previous February and ground had been broken and construction started only…

January 23: A Pie in the Sky Idea Flies Off the Shelves

In 1871, a Civil War veteran and baker by the name of William Russell Frisbie opened the Frisbie Pie Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut. He later built a large factory on the city’s east side to accommodate the growing demand for his pastries. Little did this simple but successful pieman know that one day, several decades…