April 15: American School for the Deaf founded in Hartford

  The inspiration for the first-ever permanent American school for the deaf began in 1814 with an amiable relationship between Hartford neighbors Dr. Mason Cogswell and Congregational minister Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet.  Cogswell’s young daughter, Alice, was deaf, and after observing Gallaudet’s compassionate but amateur attempts to communicate with her — teaching her to spell words…

April 7: Hartford Residents Gather to Show Support for WWI

  On this day in 1917, citizens of Hartford gathered in the streets for a “mass patriotic meeting” to show their support for America’s formal entry into World War I.  Even though the Great War had been raging in Europe for three years, the United States had been reluctant to officially join the fight against…

April 4: Hartford Riots After MLK Assassination

On this day in 1968, the streets of Hartford, Connecticut exploded with anger upon hearing the news of the assassination of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee.  Dozens of residents in Hartford’s North End took to the streets — most of them young, black men — and took out their…

March 24: Joel Barlow, Revolutionary American Poet and 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…

March 5: Abraham Lincoln Speaks in Hartford

  In early 1860, sectional tensions between the northern and southern regions of the United States were approaching the breaking point over the topic of slavery and its expansion into the western American territories.  Even though it was a crucial presidential election year, the two major political parties had yet to select their running candidates,…

March 2: A Deadly Accident Leads to Hartford’s First Hospital

  Around 2:00pm on March 2, 1854, a deafening blast rocked the Dutch Point neighborhood of Hartford following the explosion of a massive steam boiler at the Fales & Gray Car Works factory.  The force of the explosion blew out the eight-inch-thick brick walls encasing the factory’s boiler room, causing the roof to cave in…

February 25: Samuel Colt Gets a Patent.

  Today in 1836, Hartford inventor Samuel Colt received a U.S. patent for his first revolving chamber percussion pistol — a new type of firearm which would revolutionize the settlement of the American West and make Connecticut a world leader in arms manufacturing. Colt’s revolver had its roots in young Samuel’s inability to stay focused…

February 12: Sherlock Holmes’ “Farewell Tour”

  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.  He left Hartford at the age of 20 to seek his fame and fortune as an actor and stage producer and met with moderate success until 1899, when he landed…

February 8: Defending the West from the Worst

  A descendant of the Joseph Wadsworth who protected his colony’s charter by hiding it in the legendary Charter Oak, Elijah Wadsworth would also be tasked with saving his people’s government. Not from a takeover, however, but from a British invasion. And not in Connecticut, but in in the part of Ohio once owned by…

February 4: Colt Firearms Factory Destroyed By Fire

    On the morning of February 4, 1864, just after 8:00am, the loud, sharp, incessant tones of a steam whistle pierced the air in Hartford, alerting city residents to danger.  As men and women rushed toward the source of the noise in the city’s south end, they were shocked to find the massive East…

February 2: The World’s First Two-Sided Building

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 Life…