February 2: A Building Shaped Like a Boat

  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…

January 29: The Clock Stops for Seth Thomas

  While Connecticut has been home to many of the greatest names in American clock manufacturing, few have achieved more household recognition than Seth Thomas, whose name is emblazoned on countless clock faces throughout the world. Born in Wolcott, Connecticut in 1785, young Seth received little formal education, instead gaining hands-on experience, as a teenage…

January 28: The Man Who Connected People to the Telephone

  In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell received a U.S. Patent for the first practical telephone design, ushering in one of the most revolutionary devices of the late 19th century. The earliest telephones, however, were extremely limited: they allowed for communication between two receivers, but only if they were directly connected by a single wire. It…

January 25: A Breath-Taking Building Built for 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 Takes Off

  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…

January 21: Launching the World’s First Nuclear Submarine

  On January 21, 1954, hundreds of spectators, including General Dynamics employees, military brass, First Lady Mamie Eisenhower, and scores of reporters gathered along the banks of the ThamesRiver to witness a momentous occasion. At 10:57a.m., the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear submarine, slid off a dry dock at General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut,…

January 17: Hartford Takes an Electrifying Gamble on a Generator Named “Mary Ann”

  On January 17, 1901, the Hartford Electric Light Company (HELCO) took a major — and somewhat risky — step into the steam-powered future with the delivery of a huge, innovative, first-of-its-kind steam-turbine-powered generator. The massive 90,000-pound machine arrived on a custom-designed railroad car following a long journey from the Westinghouse Machine Company of Pittsburgh,…

January 10: A Shocked City Mourns the Death of Samuel Colt at 47

  Today in 1862, gunmaker Samuel Colt died in Hartford. Though he was only 47 years old, Colt died one of the richest men in the United States and left a legacy of manufacturing and innovation that changed the face of Hartford, Connecticut to the Western American frontier and beyond. Internationally recognized for his formative…

January 5: A Can-Do Connectican Invents the Can Opener

  In the early 1800s, responding to Napoleon’s request to find a more efficient way to feed his armies in the field, French inventor Nicholas Appert discovered that heating food stored in glass jars would sterilize it, keeping it safe to eat for long periods of time. Shortly thereafter, Englishman Peter Durand invented a similar…

December 31: Cutting-Edge Teamwork Turns A Starr Into A Star

  As a major in the Continental Army, Nathan Starr forged and repaired weapons as part of his service during the Revolutionary War. After the war was over, Starr returned to his hometown of Middletown, Connecticut, and made a living manufacturing blades of a different sort: mostly agricultural tools like scythes for local farmers. In…

December 19: A Stitch in Time Pays Off

  While the Industrial Revolution forever changed the way Americans manufactured, bought, and sold everyday goods, fewer inventions had a larger impact on home life for American families than the sewing machine. While there had been several experimental and industrial models of sewing machines in existence since the earliest years of the 19th century, smaller…

December 14: The Country’s First Recorded Meteorite Strike

  At approximately 6:30am on December 14, 1807, residents of Fairfield County were startled by the sight of a blazing fireball in the early morning sky, followed by the terrifying sound of three loud explosions that could be heard as far as 40 miles away. After the sun rose, strange rocks could be found on…