May 18: The Man Who 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. The…

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, Hartford Wit and American Diplomat

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late 18th century, was born on this day 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…

February 6: An Unappreciated Son’s Revolutionary Approach to Art.

  At birth, few would have expected John Trumbull 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 art’s…

December 25: Florence Griswold and the Lyme Art Colony

    On this day in 1850, Florence 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 the Civil War (with its many naval blockades), combined with the…

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

  On this day 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…

November 15: From a Meriden Movie House to Musical Greatness.

  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. Ponselle, who was destined to become a musical celebrity and one of the most famous opera singers in American history, began her musical career as…

October 20: Commemorating Thomas Hooker, Founder of Hartford

  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…

October 19: The Silver City’s “Perfect” Silver Takes First Place.

  Today in 1876, through the craftsmanship of the silver pieces produced by the Meriden Britannia Company of Meriden, Connecticut found itself in the national spotlight after the New York Times published a glowing write-up of the company’s wares at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Noting the “peculiar excellence” of both the company’s highly detailed…