The History of Hartford Radio
On Tuesday February 21st, 2012 the Old State House hosted a lively lunchtime program on Hartford's rich radio broadcasting heritage. Author and WWUH GeneralManager, John Ramsey discussed his newly-released book, Hartford Radio, and shared glimpses into many of the area's stations and the legendary personalities who spoke to their faithful listeners every day. After his brief presentation, Scott Gray, from WTIC NewsTalk 1080 moderated a panel discussion on radio's impact on the lives of Connecticut residents and its role in the debate over contemporary issues, both today and in the past. Ramsey was joined on the panel by award-winning WTIC newscaster and reporter, Angela Dias, and Chris Watts, Assistant Director of the Vintage Radio and Communications Museum.
In addition to attending the lecture, visitors were invited to view Bob Steele's Century Exhibition, a traveling exhibit on loan from the Hartford Public Library and the Hartford History Center. The exhibit contains some of Bob Steele's photographs, cartoons, letters and personal belongings and will offer visitors a different look at the radio icon whose voice was so familiar to them for all those years.
American to the Backbone: The Life of James W.C. Pennington
On Tuesday January 24th, 2012 Dr. Christopher Webber brought to light a civil rights leader long forgotten by most. Absent from our U.S. History books, Dr. James W.C. Pennington was a force for abolition and the human rights of African-Americans prior to the start of the Civil War.
Webber discussed his writing and research for his book American to the Backbone: The Life of W.C. Pennington, the Fugitive Slave who Became One of the First Black Abolitionists to the lunchtime crowd. He shared the challenges and successes faced by Pennington, who escaped slavery in Maryland and went on to become one of the leading abolitionists of his time. Pennington served as pastor of the Talcott Street Church in Hartford from 1840-1848, which eventually became Faith Congregational Church. Lecture-goers also had the opportunity to explore an exhibit about Pennington which included a 1840s Talcott Street Church pulpit bible and photographs.
Following the lecture, Diane Smith moderated a lively panel discussion on continuing to preserve historic sites and continuing to tell the stories of our past. Webber sat on the panel with Yvonne McGregor of the Connecticut Freedom Trail and Olivia White of the Amistad Center at the Wadsworth Atheneum.
Citizens in Search of a Voice
On Monday, November 14, 2011, the Connecticut Network and Connecticut's Old State House hosted a live, televised town hall meeting. The meeting entitled, Renewing our Democracy: What Connecticut Can Be, was moderated by CT-N's Diane Smith and focused on how citizens and communities can work across differences to find solutions to problems. Thirty-five people joined the panel for an exciting and promising discussion. The meeting was aired live on the Connecticut Network.
A panel of state leaders and activists were there to join in on the conversation includingSecretary of the State Denise Merrill, Everyday Democracy Executive Director Martha McCoy, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women Executive Director Teresa Younger, Southside Institution Neighborhood Alliance Executive Director Luis Caban, Cassis and many more.
The town hall meeting followed last month's release of a report by the Civic Health Project Advisory Group, which offered strategies and project ideas aimed at strengthening Connecticut's civic infrastructure. Everyday Democracy and Secretary of the State Merrill partnered with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) to create this working group, whose members include both Diane Smith and Old State House Director Sally Whipple.
The Impact of War Across History- A Closer Look at Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
On Tuesday November 8, 2011, people gathered for a special taping of a Connecticut Network program in the Old State House courtroom. The program, which focused on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through the years, will be part of special Veterans Day programming on CT-N. Dr. Matthew Warshauer, Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University, started the program by discussing research that had discovered Civil War soldiers suffered from PTSD, known then as Soldier's Heart.
After his 30-minute historical presentation, Dr. Warshauer was joined by Dr. Sarah Bullard, clinical neuropsychologist at Hartford Hospital's Institute for Living and Dr. Linda S. Schwartz, war veteran and Connecticut's Commissioner of the Department of Veterans' Affairs for a panel discussion. The panel discussion, moderated by Diane Smith, explored the cultural, medical and historical aspects of PTSD.
Commissioner Schwartz shared her own experiences of being in a war zone as a nurse during Vietnam.
Third Annual Historic Halloween at the Old State House
On Friday, October 28, 2011, over 100 people experienced a historic and hair-raising time at the third annual "Old State House Haunted History Tour."
The evening began with In a Preternatural Way: The Witchcraft Trial of Mary Barnes, the story of a young Farmington woman found guilty of witchcraft and executed here in Hartford. The play, based in 17th-century Puritan Connecticut, told her story through the people who knew her and assembles a web of relationships which explained why she met her tragic fate. Performed by the Stanley-Whitman House Roundabout Players, this was the second year in a row that Connecticut's Old State House and Stanley-Whitman House have collaborated for this special Halloween event.
From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., guests were able to choose between four different but equally eerie activities including: Spooky Storytelling, Ghost Hunters Tour of Old State House, Haunted Stories of Meeting House Square, and Old State House Haunted Treasure Hunt.
To conclude the night, visitors were able to take a short walk to the Ancient Burying Ground where they were able to explore gravesites dating back to 1648 and walk among some of Hartford's founders.
The Lost Arts of Dialogue, Debate and Civil Discourse over Lunch
On Tuesday October 18, 2011, Connecticut Network's Diane Smith hosted a lively lunchtime discussion on civil discourse. The panel, which included radio personality Brad Davis, Everyday-Democracy Executive Director Martha McCoy and Museum of Connecticut History's David Corrigan, explored the American history of oratory and persuasion, the current state of public conversation and what we can do today to encourage positive debate and dialogue.
The program began with a 30-minute presentation by David Corrigan, which explored a famous case of discourse and consequence. In October 1861, six months into the Civil War, two former Connecticut Democratic governors were virtually accused of treason due to their alleged Southern sympathies. One Connecticut State Senator introduced a bill that asked for their portraits, which then hung in the Senate Chamber in the Old State House, to be removed until their loyalty could be determined by the State Comptroller.
Army Encampment and a Tribute to Connecticut's First Civil War Hero
The New Leader of UConn - A Special Lunchtime Conversation with Susan Herbst at Connecticut's Old
This exclusive interview was the latest installment in the Connecticut Network and Connecticut's Old State House's "Conversations" series.
Remembering Soldiers' Sacrifices through Monuments, Modern Technology
and Letters Home -
July 13th, Noon at Connecticut's Old State House
Six Connecticut Heroes honored as part of the 150th Flag Day Celebration with National 9-11 Flag
On June 14th, 2011, Hartford marked the 150th anniversary of Flag Day by welcoming the National 9-11 Flag to Connecticut's Old State House. Destroyed by the collapse of the South Tower of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the National 9-11 Flag is touring the country as part of a very special, very public restoration. In each state, patches made from retired American flags are attached to the 20' x 30' flag in community "stitching ceremonies." At the Old State House, the public was invited to join local heroes in stitching Connecticut's patch to the flag from 9 a.m. to Noon.
To kick off the day, Governor Dannel P. Malloy spoke briefly of the importance of Flag Day and the 9-11 Flag's legacy of inspiration and hope during the opening ceremony. He also made the first stitch in the flag. Joining the Governor in the opening ceremony was the Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and Deputy Treasurer of the State Jonathan Harris. The restorative patch was made up from a retired U.S. Flag that once flew over the State Capitol.
As part of the opening ceremony, six local heroes were honored for their contribution to our communities, our nation and our armed forces. They included:
TheLate Chief Michael J. Fallon nominated by Glen Richards– Michael J. Fallon, before he became the Chief of the Connecticut State Capitol Police Department, spent almost half his life, 22 years, as a police officer in the city of Hartford. From Police Explorer to Assistant Chief, Mike commanded or supervised approximately 25 divisions, units or special assignments. In each and every assignment and position, Mike Fallon gave every part of himself. Tragically, Chief Michael J. Fallon died December 4, 2009, at Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center after a courageous battle with cancer.
Kathryn Cross nominated by Diana McCormack- Kathryn is a Navy Gold Star Mother, an American Gold Star Mother Volunteer, Veterans Affairs Volunteer Services Gold Star Mother Representative for the Manhattan Harborside VA Medical Center and a member of the United War Veterans Council, producers of the New York City Veterans Day Parade. An accomplished artist, she creates thousands of greeting cards for distribution by volunteers currently in 26 states to service members and hospitalized veterans. Her son, Tyler (CorkyJo) J. Connely, was killed in 2002 while serving in the United States Navy as a Law Enforcement Specialist, K-9 & Training Seal.
SFC Carmelo Figueroa nominated by Lucia Goicoechea-Hernández- SFC Carmelo Figueroa is a Legislative Services Chairman for the Board of Directors of the Hispanic-American Veterans of CT, Inc. He is also a member of the group's Honor Guard. SFC Figueroa has served in the CT Army National Guard for many years and has been deployed many times, most recently to Afghanistan from March 2009 to June 2010.
Dante Grassi nominated by Bernie Sweeney- Dante Grassi is a 100 percent service-connected disabled Vietnam Veteran. Mr. Grassi has given of himself in helping other Vietnam Veterans start a business in Connecticut. He was a leader in putting together a web page for Connecticut Veterans to better assist them in obtaining information on a wide variety of areas: loans, medical assistance, financial aid and education assistance.
Judy Keane nominated by Dolores G. Sassano- Judy Keane lost her husband on 9/11; their boys lost their dad. She focused on carrying out the good work he had done in the community during his lifetime. While alive, Richard helped create a program with some friends to supervise sports, especially basketball, but also tutor and help youth with personal problems and school work. While continuing with his program and legacy, Judy has put efforts into creating a sports center in his memory She was able to secure 2 pieces of steel from the World Trade Center and to secure funding for expanding and creating the 9/11 Memorial Sports Center attached to the Pitkin Community Center in Wethersfield.
Michael Mastroni nominated by Kathryn Cross- Michael is the founder of The Connecticut Fallen Heroes Foundation dedicated to the fallen servicemen and women of Connecticut. Each year, the group holds fundraisers to raise the money to pay tribute to those from within the state of Connecticut who have been killed in the line of duty.
At Noon, Mayor Pedro E. Segarra with Hartford Public Library CEO Matthew Poland led a procession of dignitaries and community leaders from City Hall to Connecticut's Old State House to celebrate Hartford's role as the originator of Flag Day and close out the city's 375th anniversary year with a ceremony on the steps of the Old State House. After the ceremony, members of the public were able to participate in a public folding of the National 9-11 Flag.
Brunch with the Barnum and Bailey Elephants
Nine elephants from the Barnum & Bailey and Ringling Brothers Circus stopped by the Old State House for a snack, much to the enjoyment of 2,000 toddlers! With clowns, acrobats, and stilt performers leading the way, nine elephants walked down the street from the XL Center, tails grasped by the elephant behind them. The magnificent creatures caused laughter and smiles in the children as they ate a brunch comprised of watermelon, loaves of bread, carrots, and heads of lettuce.
Barnum himself served as a legislator in the Old State House and our own P.T. Barnum acted as the master of ceremonies for the event with the circus ringmaster.
Declaration of Independence at Connecticut's Old State House
On May 3, 2011, the document that transformed thirteen war-torn British colonies into the United States of America made its one-and-only stop in the state at Connecticut's Old State House. By making its first and only Connecticut stop at the Old State House, this original 1776 Dunlap Broadside copy of the Declaration of Independence made a strong connection to both the document's history (the Declaration would have been publicly read aloud from the site in 1776) and its current mission of citizen inspiration and engagement.
The reading was followed by a signature Old State House lunchtime panel discussion Making a Declaration: Revolutionary Ideas, Modern Importance and the Preservation of a Founding Document, moderated by CT-N's Diane Smith. The panel comprised of Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, State Historian Walter Woodward and State Librarian Kendall Wiggin explored the Declaration from top to bottom, from the military and political history behind it, to its meaning to American democracy today, to the importance of preserving documents like it for future generations.
The accompanying exhibit featured an entertaining and educational video hosted by Reese Witherspoon that explained the history of the Declaration and its relevance to contemporary America as well as an extraordinary 14-minute film produced by Norman Lear and Rob Reiner at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in which a distinguished group of actors including Morgan Freeman and Renee Zellweger perform a powerful theatrical presentation of the document.
This rare copy of the Declaration of Independence was one of approximately 200 copies printed on the night of July 4, 1776 by printer John Dunlap. As of 1989, only 24 copies of the Dunlap broadsides were known to exist, until a flea market shopper bought a framed painting for four dollars. While inspecting a tear in the painting, the owner discovered a folded Dunlap broadside behind it. This 25th copy of the Dunlap broadside was authenticated by Sotheby's and an independent expert. In June 2000, Lyn and Norman Lear purchased the document on Sotheby's online auction and formed the Declaration of Independence Road trip. It has since made its way to all 50 states.
April 12, 2011 – The Start of the Civil War
First Night Hartford 2010
A central location that acted as an official First Night site and activities to please everyone was the right combination on December 31. Over 2,800 people walked through the door to explore history, make a New Years Eve mask, listen to performances and more.
Visitors were treated to living history
performances, hands-on activities, clowns and tours. The museum
exhibits were open from 2:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. but the party didn't
stop when the exhibits were closed.
John Brown: Terrorist or Martyr? -
December 2, 2009
Historic Halloween - October 30, 2009
With history in mind, the museum opened its doors for a Halloween event on October 30th. The evening began with a performance by the Judy Dworin Performance Project. The award-winning theatre/dance piece, "The Witching Hour," explored Connecticut's little known 17th-century witch craze, decades before the Salem witchcraft trials.
After the dance performance, Former State Troubadour Mike Kachuba
continued with the history of Connecticut by singing and playing
historic songs on his hammered dulcimer.
The highlight of the night was a reenactment of the 1865 murder trial of Albert Starkweather. Old State House staff acted out the parts of Starkweather, the defense attorney, the judge and a persistent old woman who disrupted the trial more than once. Starkweather's account of the night her killed his mother and sister, punctuated by the screams of the old woman gave goose bumps to everyone in the Courtroom.
Throughout the night, visitors were able to pay respects to Union General Nathaniel Lyon as he lay in state in the Senate room and check out one-night only additions to the Museum of Curiosities. The night ended with a moonlight tour of the Ancient Burying Ground, the oldest cemetery in downtown Hartford.
Summer Saturday, July 11, 2009
Living History characters included Hannah Watson, former
Connecticut Courant publisher, Jonathan Trumbull, Jr., the fifth
Connecticut Governor, Governor and Mrs. Buckingham, Connecticut's
Civil War Governor and his wife, Noah Webster, politician and author
of the first American dictionary, and Joseph Steward, portrait
artist and proprietor of Steward's Museum. There was also a Civil
War Encampment outside on the lawn all day which helped take
visitors back to the time of the Civil War. They were able to
experience how it felt to be up close and personal with soldiers
stationed at a camp during the Civil War.
Blue Cherry Band - Friday, July 10, 2009
2009 Connecticut Open House Day
2009 Travelers Championship Events
On Wednesday May 13th 2009, Connecticut's Old State House hosted the Travelers Championship's "Red Umbrella Challenge," kicking off fundraisers for the upcoming golf tournament with a mini golf game between media, tournament officials and Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez.
The Red Umbrella Challenge had competitors face off on one hole set
up on the Old State House Lawn. Instead of golf clubs, competitors
used red umbrellas to hit their golf balls. Hartford Courant Sports
Writer Tom Yantz took first place in the event, while WTIC News/Talk
1080 Sports Commentator Scott Gray acted as the Master of
2009 Inauguration Event
Once the seat of our state government, Connecticut's Old State House offered the perfect setting as the United States inaugurated its new president. Over 150 people sat in the courtroom as President Barack Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden took their oaths of office. The group clapped and laughed together, some even cried out with happiness. Visitors were allowed to bring their lunches and also had the opportunity to tour the museum when the speeches were over.
A camera crew from NBC 30 was on hand to cover the event.
Connecticut's Old State House served as the Connecticut State Capitol from 1796 to 1873. The building was built with the hopes and dreams of democracy and a brighter future. As today's event demonstrated, it still serves as "the people's house" today and remains open to the public year-round as a museum and learning center.