Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Snow and Books, 5

This is probably going to be the last one of these not-exactly-book-reviews for a while. For one thing my stack of unread Connecticut books is - for the moment - used up, and for another, I'm deciding to be wildly optimistic and assume that there's not going to be another snowstorm this season. Crazy, I know.

So the last book of the lot is Hidden History of Connecticut by Wilson H. Faude. (The History Press.) Having met Bill Faude (twice), and having had him hand me this very book himself (thanks!), I hoped it would be good because I would have felt pretty awkward if it wasn't. Luckily, it is, despite its slimness, full of things I did not know - and things I bet most people who claim to be into Connecticut trivia don't know either.

Today I Learned: As indicated above, a bunch of things; it would be shorter to just list the things I already knew. But here's a few. The Warren Congregational Church is special. Apparently you have to go to Warren to see how special; it has to do with the angle of the building and the lack of surrounding buildings. In the picture it looks to me like basically every other classic white Congregational church in the state, so I am now thoroughly intrigued. Thomas Hart Benton's "favorite museum among all the museums in our country" is the New Britain Museum of American Art. The creator of Stratford's erstwhile American Shakespeare Festival Theatre initially wanted it to be located in Westport. But Westport residents, and the P & Z commission, weren't having it.

Amusements: Despite the General Assembly's 1931 requirement that all depictions of the Connecticut State Seal (you know, with the grape vines) match the 1784 model, there are all sorts of wrong seals out there. Some are in state government buildings and on official state documents. This is an amusement that will probably eventually become an annoyance, since I will hereafter stare obsessively at every State Seal I see, trying to figure out if it's legal.*

Listings: This is not a guidebook, so N/A on this one. However, I will nitpick slightly about the geographical promise of the title. this is not really the hidden history of Connecticut. It's the hidden history of central Connecticut, plus a dollop of Litchfield County and one or two chapters on towns in the west and east, and it focuses on what I'll call churchy, moneyed Connecticut.

Quotes: Bethel and Bridgeprt's own P.T. Barnum: "...without promotion something terrible happens...Nothing!"

*This is not from this book, but another thing about the Connecticut State Seal is it's the only one that is not circular. See? We are such rebels.

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