The Millionaires' Triangle
Welcome to the latest issue of CTExplored/Inbox, your bi-weekly newsletter from Connecticut Explored.
Every other week, we share that latest stories, the newest Grating the Nutmeg podcast, programs and exhibitions from our partners to see/watch this month, and more!
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Visit Litchfield, Connecticut from the comfort of your home with the new Tapping Reeve House Virtual Tour. This immersive experience takes visitors on a journey into the life of a student arriving in Litchfield to study at one of the town’s two important schools, The Litchfield Law School and the Litchfield Female Academy. Explore the legacy of America’s First Law School and its students, including Roger Sherman Baldwin and the infamous Aaron Burr. This project is made possible by funding from Connecticut Humanities. Start your tour today by visiting www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org/museums/virtualtour/
Norwich’s Millionaires’ Triangle
Our summer issue celebrates cities and neighborhoods. This story takes you on a walking tour of some of the most amazing Gilded Age mansions in the state—sitting one after the other around a small green, colorfully called the Chelsea Parade, along Broadway and Washington streets in Norwich.
The original occupants, historian Tricia Staley tells us in her story in the Summer issue, included an impressive array of Very Important People: a vice president of the United States, a governor of Connecticut, congressmen, generals, major manufacturers and merchants, the head of a major pharmaceutical company, and owners and executives of railroads and shipping lines.
But let’s not overlook the women: Edith Carow Roosevelt, second wife of Theodore Roosevelt, was born in one of these mansions. Tiffany’s—the New York jeweler—connects to several female scions of Norwich’s elite in its earliest days.
The wealth that produced these estates—and the abundance of architectural hubris—makes for fascinating reading. This was a lifestyle that required “greenhouses and graperies,” Staley writes, and “nearly all had a carriage house. Census records and city directories indicate most families had several maids, a cook, and often a coachman.”
But consider, too, the source of that wealth—textile mills (cotton—just one of Connecticut’s ties to the southern slave economy), gun manufacturing, and a patent medicine called “Osgood’s India Cholagogue,” a concoction that was reputed to cure malaria and various “bilious” diseases. Whether Osgood’s formulation worked or not, it made him very rich—and he had the house to prove it.
Read the full story and plan a field trip to see these beautiful homes today.
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The Latest from Grating the Nutmeg
Episode 119: Uncovering Connecticut’s LGBTQ History
34 minutes. Release date: June 1, 2021
Lives of the state’s LGBTQ citizens have moved from being hidden and solitary to claiming visible, powerful, valuable, and contributing places in society. In this episode, Mary Donohue, assistant publisher of Connecticut Explored, interviews CCSU Assistant Professor of History William J. Mann about when and how the LGBTQ movement started in Connecticut, what legislative goals and strategies drove the movement, and what the movement’s current goals are. He discusses the impact of AIDS and the ways that the LGBTQ community supported its members, and how his students helped to research the people and events highlighted in the online exhibition, “Historic Timeline of Connecticut’s LGBTQ Community.” Mann wrote CT Explored’s “A Brief History of Connecticut’s Gay Media," Winter 2020-2021.
Find more stories about Connecticut’s LGBTQ history at https://www.ctexplored.org/category/lgbtq/.
Programs and Exhibitions to Enjoy This Month
A New Haven Walking Tour
Explore New Haven Preservation Trust’s newest self-guided tour. Lynwood Place is a quiet residential street in the Dwight Street Historic District. It features houses dating to the late 19th century and is within walking distance of downtown New Haven and Yale’s main campus. See nhpt.org/self-guided-tours for this and other tours.
New Connecticut-Based Memoir
Nothing Special is a disarmingly candid tale of two sisters growing up in the 1970s in rural Connecticut. Older sister Chris, who has Down syndrome, is a charming extrovert, while the author, her younger, typically-developing sister, shoulders the burdens of their parents. Published by Wesleyan University Press. Visit hfsbooks.com/books/nothing-special-bilyak/.
Revolutionary War Diary Accessible Online
“…I must shut my book for ye present… ye enemy are upon us.” With the support of the Society of the Cincinnati in the State of Connecticut, the New Haven Museum has digitized and transcribed the first-person account of Josiah Atkins, a soldier in General George Washington’s army. Just 32 when he died fighting for American independence, he left his pregnant wife and child behind. Visit newhavenmuseum.org/museum-collections/online-exhibitions/the-journal-of-josiah-atkins/.
Connecticut Freedom Workers
Connecticut Freedom Workers: Remembering the Civil Rights Movement, on view at Connecticut Historical Society through August 28, shares stories, artifacts, and images of Connecticut freedom workers who supported the movement at home or by traveling south. See the exhibition in person at the society or via a 3D-HD virtual tour at chs.org/online-exhibition/virtualtour-ctfreedomworkers.
Connecticut Historical Society, chs.org
Ma’s An Inward Sea on View
As part of the New Britain Museum of American Art’s NEW/NOW exhibition series featuring emerging and established contemporary artists, the museum presents Jennifer Wen Ma: An Inward Sea, on view through September 26. In recent years Ma (b. 1973, Beijing) has explored themes of utopia, dystopia, and the human condition in immersive and participatory installations. The exhibition continues this exploration while reflecting deeply on the events of the last year.
New Britain Museum of American Art, Nbmaa.org
Stories we love from back issues to read now.
“‘Restmore’ in Southport,” Spring 2018. The fabulous 1910 Cape Dutch-style house of intimate-apparel manufacturer Ira DeVer Warner
“Taftville in Norwich: A Strike Transforms a Village,” Winter 2019/2020
“John Denison Crocker: Norwich’s Renaissance Man,” Winter 2006/2007
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