December 6: Florence Griswold and the Fine Art of Hospitality

  Today in 1937, Florence Griswold died, having made her lifelong hometown of Old Lyme synonymous with  art.  Miss Griswold was born into one of Old Lyme’s most prominent families, the youngest daughter of wealthy ship captain Robert Griswold. Not long after Florence was born, however, the family’s fortunes began to change, The start of…

November 30: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz Marry in Greenwich

  Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, two of the most famous entertainers in the history of American television, first met in 1940, over a decade before their mega-hit sitcom, I Love Lucy, first aired. Ball, already well known as a model and Broadway actress, and Arnaz, a popular Cuban bandleader, met on the set of…

November 29: Connecticut’s Presidential Portrait Painter

  Today in 1982, a very special delivery was received at the White House: a stunningly photo-realistic portrait of President Jimmy Carter, painted by Connecticut artist Herbert E. Abrams. The painting was President Carter’s official White House portrait, and after viewing it, White House curator Clement Conger declared Abrams the best contemporary artist he had…

November 15: The Unlikely Stardom of Rosa Ponselle

  Born to Italian immigrants living in Meriden, Connecticut in 1897, Rosa Ponselle (born Rosa Ponzillo) displayed a natural talent for both singing and instrumental music at an early age. To express that talent, she began her musical career as a teenager, singing ballads in local movie theaters to keep audiences entertained while the projectionist…

October 20: A Monument to the State’s Founding Minister

  On October 20, 1950, a crowd of several hundred Connecticans gathered in front of the Old State House in Hartford to observe the unveiling of a new, eight-foot-tall statue of Thomas Hooker, the Puritan minister and “founding father” of Connecticut who founded the settlement of Hartford in 1636. Born in England in 1586, Thomas…

July 25: New Haven-born Duo Tops the Charts with a Four-Time Retread

  Today in 1970, The Carpenters, the iconic pop music duo consisting of New Haven-born siblings Richard and Karen Carpenter, experienced the first major breakthrough of their musical careers. They did so with a song that had previously been recorded by a host of other performers. The pair achieved “overnight stardom” (after a decade of…

July 19: American Impressionism Is First Planted at “the Great Good Place.”

  J. Alden Weir loved his  Ridgefield, Connecticut farm so much, he called it “the Great Good Place.” Today, as one of Connecticut’s two National Historic parks (Coltsville in Hartford is the other)the Weir Farm National Historic Site memorializes the life and historic contributions of Weir, one of the most iconic painters of the American…

June 1: America’s First Public Art Museum

  Today in 1842, Connecticut Governor Chauncey Cleveland signed an act formally incorporating the Wadsworth Atheneum, creating the first public art museum in the United States. Construction immediately began on the iconic, castle-like building in Hartford that remains the centerpiece and most recognizable feature of the Atheneum campus, and the institution officially opened two years…

May 18: He Took the Greatest Generation on a “Sleigh Ride.”

  Today in 1975, American composer and longtime Connecticut resident Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury home. Famous for whimsical and catchy orchestral pieces, such as the perennial Christmastime favorite”Sleigh Ride,” “The Syncopated Clock,” and “Blue Tango,” Anderson’s compositions helped define popular music of mid-20th century America. Fellow composer and Boston Pops conductor John…

May 8: The Man Who Made “Happily Ever After” Get Real

  Today in 2012, longtime Connecticut resident Maurice Sendak died in Danbury from complications following a stroke. Sendak was a prolific children’s book creator who wrote and illustrated dozens of books during a more than half-century career. His path-breaking approach to reflecting the psychology of children in his work transformed the field of children’s literature….