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Newsletter | March 29, 2024

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Trivia question

The Hartford Fire Department's old alarm bell.

This baby served as Hartford’s fire alarm bell from 1881 to 1921. Weighing 4 ½ tons, with a bottom diameter of 6 feet 6 inches, it hung atop a tower at Fire Department headquarters on Pearl Street. Where is it now?

For the answer, see the end of this newsletter.


How did Hartford get its name? A look at the capital's history – CT Insider*

Jamaica native named new executive director of Amistad Center for Art & Culture – Hartford Courant*

CT museum wraps up COVID history project: 'This will outlast my lifetime' – CT Insider*

Manuscript from Watkinson Library plays big role in new Connecticut Public series – Trinity (College) Tripod

* Requires paid subscription, usually after a certain number of free articles.

New Book

Cover of CT Industries Unite for WWII Victory

In the months following the conclusion of World War II, the Connecticut State Library’s Department of War Records asked companies statewide to submit written descriptions of their wartime adjustments, challenges, and achievements. Sharon L. Cohen of Newtown has produced a book containing a representative number of these industry narratives, including from such Hartford-area manufacturers as Pratt & Whitney and Hamilton Standard. The book, "Connecticut Industries Unite for WWII Victory," is available at highpointpub.com.

Events calendar

What Is a Disaster? State Historian Andy Horowitz in Conversation with Jacob A. C. Remes

Thursday, April 4, at 6 p.m. at the Connecticut Museum of Culture and History, 1 Elizabeth St., Hartford. “(T)wo leading scholars in the field of disaster studies will consider events in Connecticut history and beyond, pondering why some kinds of bad news are considered disasters while others are not, and what difference it makes.” Tickets: $15 general admission, $10 for Museum members. Details

Discover Cedar Hill: Highlight Tour

Saturday, May 4, 10:00 - 11:00 a.m., at Cedar Hill Cemetery, 453 Fairfield Avenue, Hartford. “Explore Hartford’s rural cemetery with Cedar Hill Cemetery Foundation Director Beverly Lucas. The one-hour tour showcases the art, history, and natural beauty that makes this urban oasis so special.” Free admission, but reservations are recommended.

If you’d like to add your event, send the “who, what, when, and where” to Kevin@HartfordHistory.net.

Trivia question answer

The fire alarm bell sits on the grounds of the Connecticut Museum of Culture and History (formerly the Connecticut Historical Society), at 1 Elizabeth St. Though donated by the city’s Board of Fire Commissioners in 1931, the bell had to sit in storage until 1953, when the Museum moved into its current quarters, the former Curtis H. Veeder House.


A sign next to the bell says:


Following the organization of the Hartford Fire Department in 1864, a central alarm bell equipped with an early call box system was installed to alert firemen across the city to the location of a fire. When this bell cracked in 1881 it was sent to the Jones & Co. foundry [of Troy, New York] for recasting. The recast bell was placed back in service atop the bell tower at fire headquarters on Pearl Street that same year and continued to ring numerical alarm codes. The 4 1/2 -ton bell, rung by means of a 100-lb. clapper, was audible across much of the city, no doubt to the annoyance of nearby residents. However, one bonus of the bell was that it provided time checks at noon, 6 PM and 9 PM daily.

In 1921 the bell was retired, a victim of modern telephone alarm systems. Though given to the Connecticut Historical Society in 1931, the bell was retained by the Hartford Fire Department until 1953 when CHS moved to this current location.

This wood yoke is a replacement and approximates the original yoke that was on the bell while it hung in the tower.

More trivia questions at HartfordHistory.net

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