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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
Collage of Local Legacies
Old State House, Hartford
Old State House, Hartford. Photo: Robert Benson

Legacy of Our Proud Heritage

Connecticut's historic and symbolic importance to the building of this state and country are represented by these nine establishments: Connecticut's Old State House, the Mark Twain House, Ancient Fifing and Drumming (East Windsor), the Rocky Hill Glastonbury Ferry and the Rocky Hill Historical Society, Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Noah Webster House, Hebron Harvest Fair, and Charter Oak Cultural Center.

Located in Old Wethersfield, Connecticut's first permanent English settlement, the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum comprises three historic houses. Museum tours provide an engaging and learning experience that illuminate the rich history of the Connecticut River Valley from the 18th to 20th centuries. The museum was founded in 1920, and both the Webb and Deane houses are National Historic Landmarks.

Mark Twain lived in this Victorian mansion in Hartford between 1874 and 1891. In 1881, major rooms in the house were redecorated by the distinguished firm, "Associated Artists' whose interior designers included Louis Comfort Tiffany. The house is distinguished by its decorative brick; elaborate treatment of wood structural elements, known as the "stick style;" paneling enhanced with silver stencils, English and glass tilework; and brass and cloisonne enamel light fixtures.

As a historical museum, the Noah Webster House is committed to preserving and interpreting the legacy of Noah Weber, the first American lexicographer. Born in Hartford in 1758, Webster attended Yale College in 1774. As a an itinerant teacher in Connecticut, he was disturbed by the deplorable and inconsistent condition of American public schools. Dedicated to establishing uniformity of the American language, Weber wrote a school primer, and later in life, produced the first American Dictionary of the English Language. He is largely responsible for the copyright laws protecting intellectual property in the United States. He also wrote and spoke prolifically on subjects as diverse as the abolition of slavery and the need for arts in education.

Every year, tourists and residents alike enjoy the Rocky Hill Glastonberry Ferry, the oldest ferry service still operating in the United States. It historically has served as a vital link between the Rocky Hill and Glastonberry communities. The original ferry, which dates back to 1655, was a small raft pushed across the Connecticut River by using poles. Through most of its existence the ferry was operated by local families. Today's ferry craft is an open flatboat which is towed by a diesel powered towboat.

In 1876, Charles Bulfinch designed the Old State House, the oldest state house in the United States, which sits on the site where Connecticut was founded. The building served as the state capitol from 1796 to 1878, and as Hartford's city hall from 1878 to 1915. Among the historic and infamous events that have occurred in these chambers, now restored, were the meeting of George Washington with the French armies, the Armistad trial in 1839; and the hanging of a witch. Saved from demolition in 1920, 1958, and again in 1975, the Old State House has been fully restored and is today open as a museum.

During the stormy political period that preceded the American Revolution, East Windsor became a township in 1768. The town, as did other colonial communities, provided its fair share of men, materials, and musicians to aid in the war effort. A local musician, Giles Gibbs Jr., served in the war as a fifer from 1777 until 1780, when he was captured and killed by the British. Organized fifing and drumming has been a part of East Windsor's history since 1880, when the first fife and drum corps was formed. In 2000, both the Warehouse Point Fife & Drum Corps and the Warehouse Point Junior Fifes & Drums continue to preserve the fifing tradition and early American martial music.

In 1803, Academy Hall was built in Rocky Hill as a navigation school to teach young sailors and future sea captains. The building was later used as a theater, a library, a town school, an American Legion Hall, and by church organizations. As a museum, Academy Hall displays a wealth of artifacts, books and files from the town's history, including farm implements, military items, maritime history, and costumes. The building is owned by the town, but the Rocky Hill Historical Society maintains the museum, and annual exhibits.

Documentation includes eight historic photos and five slides of the Mark Twain House; brochures and newsletter from the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum; photos of the Noah Webster House and Webster's publications; a river ferry brochure and scanned reproductions of photos; three photos of the Old State House; and brochures, articles and photos of the Warehouse Point Fife & Drum Corps and the Warehouse Point Junior Fifes & Drums.

Originally submitted by: John B. Larson, Representative (1st District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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