Monthly Archives: February 2014

New London is a Historic City of Note

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In addition to being one of Connecticut’s five original cities and its official port during the Revolutionary War, this city at the mouth of the Thames River, the state’s eastern most port, has a number of historic claims to fame.  These include:

  • The Shaw Mansion in New London was headquarters of the state’s navy during the Revolutionary War (now a museum open to visitors);
  • It was the only U.S. port entered by the slave ship La Amistadtouching off an epic fight that would become a symbol in the movement to abolish slavery in the United States. It was an early Connecticut-based battle in the fight for the nation’s soul;
  • In terms of volume, it was New England’s second largest port for whaling and seal hunting;
  • It was one of the New England ports that played an important, if little known, role in the Civil War;
  • On top of all that, New London was much, much  more in the decades and centuries ahead, but in the formative years of our nation it is important, also, to remember this:

New London may well be the only city in the 13 colonies where two Revolutionary War figures of note walked its streets:  Nathan Hale and Benedict Arnold.  One tried to educate its young—including girls, and other tried (with a distressing amount of success) to burn it down.

Look and Learn About the Civil War

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The New England Civil War Museum in Rockville has a long history of keeping alive the memory of those who fought and died in the war between the states, 1861-65. It offers a fascinating glimpse into that trying time in our nation’s history.

The museum traces its lineage back to Civil War veterans and proclaims that it is the only such institution in the six-state region that was founded by Civil War veterans.  The past echoes through the building where Civil War veterans once gathered in friendship and peace.

Housed in the former Grand Army of the Republic hall inside the town Memorial Building, its collection includes relics, prints, paintings, lithographs, photos, and papers. The original GAR collection has been augmented by hundreds of new items related to both Connecticut Civil War soldiers and the GAR in Connecticut.

The Museum’s O’Connell-Chapman Library has more than 1000 volumes of Civil War literature, in addition to original copies of the 128 volumes of The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 

In addition to the original Civil War map books, there are photographs of local Civil War veterans, both in the museum and on line.

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New England Civil War Museum
www.NewEnglandCivilWarMusem.org
860-870-3563
Open 2nd & 4th Sunday of each month, or by special appointment (made six weeks in advance)

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Soar into History at the New England Air Museum

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Colorful examples of aviation history, from practically the dawn of powered flight into the jet age, can be found at the New England Air Museum.

Some familiar names and sights are featured among the 70 aircraft on display. These include a restored B-29 Superfortress of the type that carried the air war to Japan in WW-II, and the sleek P51 Mustang fighter of that era. Plus a large selection of private and commercial planes.

They are joined by lesser known, but equally important reminders of the development of aviation, including the XI built in 1911, the same year another XI became the first airplane used in war, and two years after Louis Bleriot used still another XI to become the first to fly across the England Channel.

The collection includes the last remaining four-engine flying boat, a Sikorsky VS-44A, donated by its previous owner, the actress Maureen O’Hara and restored here. And something else that is unusual, a reminder of aviation, circa 1870, the Silas Brooks Balloon Basket believed to be the oldest surviving aircraft in the United States

But those are far from the only attractions at this monument to aviation history located adjacent to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.

There are flight simulators, opportunities to climb into open cockpits and engage in other aviation-related activities and exhibits.

These include two special displays, one heralding the famed 58 Bomb Wing, the centerpiece of which is the “Jack’s Hack,” the restored B-29 and another display that focuses on the Lafayette Escadrille, a volunteer group of American  flyers that produced the first American air ace of WW-I.—a man who called Connecticut home.

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New England Air Museum                                                                           www.neam.org

36 Perimeter Road
Windsor Locks, CT  06096
(860) 623-3305

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New Haven Museum is about more than history

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Eli Whitney and his cotton gin

The local history sections of libraries and museums don’t always carry an appeal beyond the confines of particular neighborhoods and a desire to see how ancestors may have lived. And the same could be said of museums that focus entirely on local history.

The New Haven Museum, however, transcends those  boundaries and chronicles the origins of this vibrant city that once served as the hub of a colony populated by English Puritans, starting in 1638.

There’s a focus on art, history and industry with inventors who stand among the most important in the United States. In short, the museum has an appeal broad enough to interest visitors who knew nothing of the city when they walked through the doors of the colonial revival building at 114 Whitney Avenue.

From the Amistad exhibit to an actual cotton gin made by Eli Whitney and maritime exhibits that chronicle this city’s ties to the sea, the museum has a little something for even the casual visitor. There’s also something on the families of both president Bushes.

For those looking for a more personal connection, the museum offers the Whitney Library that includes collections of 30,000 printed works, and its other collections. The library was founded in 1862.

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New Haven Museum

www.newhavenmuseum.org

 

114 Whitney Ave.

New Haven, CT 06510

203-562-4183

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Talk About Getting Back to History’s Basics

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Taking in the natural beauty that helps define today’s Connecticut, it is difficult to imagine that this state was once covered by a mile of ice.  Granted, that ended something like 13,000 years ago– more than 4.7- million days back in time.

Certainly there’s been a lot of natural change since those frigid days, and thanks to the Audubon Society of Connecticut you can take in the major showcases of that change.

The Connecticut group, an independent organization, founded in 1898, has a major presence in locations around the state.

There are 19 Sanctuaries from Pomfret in the Northeast to Fairfield in the Southwest.

If that doesn’t quench your thirst for all things natural here, the Society has five Centers, including a museum, sprinkled all over the map.

You can start your journey to any of these locations right Here.