What a Trip!
Welcome to the latest issue of CTExplored/Inbox. 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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Summer 2021: City, Village, Neighborhood—Home
Before you head out and around the state this summer, check out this story from the Summer 2021 issue, and some throw-back stories about destinations with history.
Johnna Kaplan’s feature story makes a surprising claim: that Connecticut can claim to be the birthplace of—American travel guides! Yes, one of Connecticut’s earliest guidebooks became a national model for the genre, documents Kaplan, blogger at The Size of Connecticut, and total fan girl of Connecticut guidebooks.
Kaplan delves into the history of travel writing about Connecticut going back to Sarah Kemble Knight’s 1704 trip from Boston to New York on horseback! (Go, Sarah!) As Kaplan tells us, “Leaving New London for ‘Seabrook’ (today’s Old Saybrook), Knight wrote that the ‘Rodes all along this way are very bad, Encumbered with Rocks and mountainous passages.’ The bad road soon crossed a bridge, ‘under wch the River Run very swift, my hors stumbled, and very narrowly ‘scaped falling over into the water; wch extremely frightened mee.’”
Gallop ahead to the early 20th century when the travel book genre emerged roughly in parallel with the introduction of the automobile. In 1924 Rand McNally published Auto Chum, the first edition of what would become the company’s ubiquitous road atlas. Beginning in 1936 African American travelers had The Negro Motorist Green Book, which listed places Black tourists could visit safely. [See “Connecticut’s Green Book Sites,” Spring 2020.]
But the year before, in 1935 in the midst of the Great Depression, Edgar L. Heermance compiled The Connecticut Guide: What to See and Where to Find It for the State of Connecticut’s tercentenary. It was intended, Kaplan tells us, as “a guidebook of the Baedeker type, to supplement the information given in the annual automobile touring books.” It’s this book that became a national model for the 1938 Federal Writers’ Project’s Connecticut: A Guide to Its Roads, Lore and People.
Kaplan goes on to explain why it became a national model for the FWP’s multi-state American Guide Series, and why it’s so much fun to try to use it to navigate a trip around Connecticut today!
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The Latest from Grating the Nutmeg
Dr. Leah Glaser and students from her 2021 Public History class at Central Connecticut State University present stories about the state’s witness trees — a project that evolved out of a semester-long class about local and community history. Trees are central characters in the state’s history, myths, and legends, Glaser asserts. They witnessed the changing environmental, political, social, economic, and cultural landscape for decades and even centuries.
What’s a witness tree, you ask? Find out in this episode of Grating the Nutmeg.
Find a link to Dr. Glaser’s story about witness and memorial trees in the Spring 2021 issue, images, and a list of each student and tree featured, HERE.
Programs and Exhibitions to Enjoy This Month
Mark Twain Welcomes You
This summer, take a trip to The Mark Twain House & Museum, now open to the public for guided tours. The museum is thrilled to welcome you all back to what Mark Twain called “the loveliest home that ever was.” To ensure that your visit is a great experience, the museum highly recommends purchasing tickets ahead of time online. Please visit the museum’s website for the latest updates on tickets and its guide to visiting. Visit marktwainhouse.org.
A New Season at CT Landmarks
2021 brings a new season of programs and events to Connecticut Landmarks. You’re invited to enjoy garden tours at the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden in Bethlehem, the Sunset SoundsConcert Series and walking tours at CTL’s Hartford properties, the new Littlest Historian program at the Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden in Suffield, colonial activity experiences at the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, history in aCTion panel discussions and new exhibit components at the Hempsted Houses in New London, and so much more! Visit ctlandmarks.org.
Summer at Noah’s House
So much is waiting for you this summer at the Noah Webster House. Tour the historic property and garden, enjoy dinner at monthly food truck events, or rent the patio for your own party. Visit Noah’s beautiful National Historic Landmark home Tuesday through Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Visit noahwebsterhouse.org.
Stunning Gardens at Keeler Tavern
Experience what Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center has to offer this summer, including outdoor programs and entertainment for the whole family! Monday evenings in June and July features free open-air Music at the Museum with Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra. In July and August, kids can participate in Summer Enrichment @ Keeler. Throughout August, a series of outdoor theater experiences will be performed on site. For more information visit keelertavernmuseum.org and follow on social media: @KeelerTavernMuseum on Facebook and Instagram and @KeelerTavern on Twitter.
Stories we love from back issues to read now.
“Wonderful Summers at Hammonasset State Park,” Summer 2006
“Destination: The Beardsley Zoo,” Summer 2006
Kids’ Page: History Explorers! Museums, trails, and engineering marvels to visit this summer, including the latest from Simsbury 4th grader Cornel Matarrese
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