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….

May 4: Landscape Art for an Industrializing America

  Today in 1826, iconic American landscape painter Frederic Edwin Church was born in Hartford. The internationally famed artist’s Connecticut roots ran deep: he was a direct descendant of one of the original English Puritans who settled Hartford with Rev. Thomas Hooker. His father, a prominent silversmith, also became a director of Hartford’s Aetna Insurance…

March 24: Joel Barlow, The Poet and Diplomat Who Died Far From Home

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late-18th century, was born today  in 1754 in the western Connecticut town of Redding. As a member of the Yale class of 1778, the bright young man found himself surrounded by an impressive crowd of…

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 6: An Unappreciated Son’s Revolutionary Art.

  At John Trumbull’s birth, few would have expected him to live to age one, much less 87. Yet the infant born suffering multiple seizures daily slowly overcame that condition, and went on to spend a lifetime trying also to overcome his father’s censure of painting as a demeaning profession. In his effort to show…

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 Too…

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…

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…