June 15 Connecticut’s First Television Station Takes to the Airwaves.

  Today in 1948, Connecticut’s first television station WNHC-TV, Channel 6 (now WTNH Channel 8) began broadcasting in New Haven. The introduction of this new media to Connecticut was the brainchild of Aldo DeDomenicis, an Italian pasta-wholesaler who had previously found success buying radio time on Italian programs and selling that time as radio ads…

June 8: The Man Whose Songs the Soldiers Sang Dies in Hartford

  Henry Clay Work, one of the most popular songwriters of the Civil War era, died today in 1884 at age 51, while in Hartford visiting his mother. Work, who composed such still-sung songs as “Marching Through Georgia” and “Kingdom Coming” (you know the tune), was born in Middletown in 1832 into an activist family…

May 12: She Won More Acting Oscars Than Any Other Performer.

  Meryl Streep won three. So did Daniel Day Lewis, Frances McDormand and Jack Nicholson. But though she never attended a prize show to accept any of them in person, this actor from Hartford, born today in 1907, won four Oscars for her film performances, more than any other actor. Katharine Hepburn, who retained close…

May 7: A Developing Story

  For more than a century after practical photography was invented in 1839, all photographers had to wait to see the pictures they had taken until the images had gone through a lengthy, chemical developing process. The man who was to change all that, Edwin Land, was born in Bridgeport today in 1909. Land, a…

May 4: Romanticizing Nature 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…

April 21: On This Day, Rumors of His Death Were NOT Greatly Exaggerated

    Today in 1910, Mark Twain, one of America’s most famous authors and Connecticut’s most famous residents, died at his home in Redding. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he grew up in Missouri and traveled extensively, working as a newspaper reporter and fiction writer, until settling with his family in 1871 in the wealthy “Nook…

April 18: The Punch That Killed

  A popular pastime for millennia, amateur (or “Olympic-style”) boxing experienced a 20th-century renaissance in the United States, thanks to celebrity heavyweights like John L. Sullivan and the inclusion of the sport in the 1904 Olympic games. During the early 1900s, amateur boxing matches were common in Connecticut cities. One infamous example of an amateur…

March 22: Seeing Connecticut in a Completely Different Light

  Today in 1816, master American artist and internationally acclaimed landscape painter John Frederick Kensett was born in Cheshire, Connecticut to Thomas Kensett, an English-born engraver, and Elizabeth Daggett Kensett, his Connecticut-born wife. Displaying an early aptitude for art, John was working in his father’s engraving studio by age 12, honing his keen eye for…

March 14: The “King of Diamonds” Was A Connecticut History Gem

  Few people did more to shape twentieth-century popular culture in Connecticut than the man they called “the King of Diamonds” – the jeweler and marketing genius Bill Savitt, who died  today in 1995, at age 94. Savitt combined a  P. T. Barnum-worthy sense of marketing possibilities with a passion for sports and philanthropy to…

February 21: The World’s First Telephone Directory Had Only 50 Names

  Thanks to Connecticut inventor and innovator George Coy, the city of New Haven can lay claim to a number of “firsts” related to the early development of the telephone. Within two years after Alexander Graham Bell first patented the revolutionary communication device, Coy and his company had implemented a number of innovations — like…

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 11: England’s Greatest Novelist Speed-Visits New Haven

  On the evening of February 11, 1842, three words spread through the streets of New Haven like wildfire, causing crowds of people to rush toward the city’s downtown Tontine Hotel: “Dickens has come!” Just before 8:00 p.m. that night, Charles Dickens had arrived at the city’s Union Station, traveling by rail from Hartford. The…