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…

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…

August 12: Gidget Born in Bridgeport

  Today in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941. With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age of three….

June 25: Marilyn Monroe Takes Connecticut By Storm

  Today in 1956, the small, rural, western Connecticut town of Roxbury was swarmed by reporters who had learned that the internationally famous starlet Marilyn Monroe was there visiting her fiancée, Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Arthur Miller. The couple had been dating for months, and they had announced their plans to marry the week before. Miller,…

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 later,…

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…

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…

August 12: Gidget Born in Bridgeport

  On this day in Connecticut history, actress Deborah Walley was born in Bridgeport in 1941. With nationally famous ice skaters and choreographers Edith and Nathan Walley as her parents, young Deborah caught the show business bug at an early age, performing on the ice with her parents for the first time at the age…

July 19: The American Impressionist Movement Blooms in Ridgefield

  Located in Ridgefield, Connecticut, the Weir Farm National Historic Site memorializes the life and historic contributions of J. Alden Weir, one of the most iconic painters of the American Impressionist movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Born in 1852 to a prosperous family, Weir showed artistic promise at an early age…