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Did You Know? Facts About Connecticut's History

Connecticut history, trivia, and fun facts to enlighten and entertain.

Once, twice, three times a State House.

When Gov. Dannel P. Malloy opens the session on Feb. 5, 2012 he will be doing so in the State House’s third incarnation. That’s because prior to the American Revolution the General Assembly alternated between Hartford and New Haven. When they were in New Haven, lawmakers convened in a building designed by Ithiel Town. When in Hartford, they met in the Old State House; a Charles Bullfinch building designed in 1792.

Cost Over-Runs.

Lawmakers often point to the need to rein in costs. Their post-colonial counterparts were no different. Once Hartford won the right to be the capitol the General Assembly authorized $1 million to design and build a new State House. Two men bid on the project: James G. Batterson and Richard M. Upjohn. Upjohn won – sort of. Because Batterson, named contractor, kept tweaking and changing and elaborating on Upjohn’s original plan until it looked more like his design. Ultimately the building cost $2.5 million.

Speech Subject

When Malloy addressed the GA on opening day he referenced Abraham Davenport, who too hailed from Stamford. Davenport, was serving in the legislature in 1780 when the skies across New England turned pitch black. Some thought Judgment Day was nigh. Turns out it was just the effects of a lot of smoke, fog and clouds.

Absence Makes the Legislative Heart Grow Fonder

As far as the CT State Library could determine state Sen. Joe Markley, representing Cheshire, Southington, Wolcott and Waterbury, has the longest time between terms of any legislator since the 19th century. He was out of office for 24 years before returning in 2010.

First Time

The Connecticut General Assembly met under the gilded dome for the first time in January 1879, 132 years ago. It wasn’t until 1971, 92 years later, that the building was designated a National Historic Landmark. 

Nutmeg State Notable

Serving from 1966 to 2006, George “Doc” Gunther holds the state record as the longest-serving state legislator. Gunther, a Republican, represented Shelton and part of Stratford, Monroe and Seymour in the 21st Connecticut Senate District.

Friends and Family

In 1878 the New Haven District Telephone Company published the first telephone book. It had 50 names.

Cheers

If you do took sip of champagne New Years Eve know that Connecticut (and Rhode Island) never ratified the 18th amendment.

Walk This Way

Never cross the street walking on your hands in Hartford – it’s illegal.

Ink This

The Hartford Courant, established in 1864, is oldest US newspaper still being published.

Open, Shut Them

The Department of Motor Vehicles might be facing budget cuts, but nothing can take away the fact that in 1937 Connecticut became the first state to issue permanent license plates for cars.

Hair Today

New Englanders weren’t called pumpkin-heads because of their politics. Rather cut pumpkins were sometimes used in colonial New England as guides for haircuts.

Word Up

If anyone has trouble with any definitions in this article, know that it can be looked up in the dictionary. Noah Webster of West Hartford published the first in 1807. Incidentally, that was the same year the first recorded meteorite fell in Weston, Ct, an event investigated by Webster’s close friend Prof. Benjamin Silliman of Yale.

Our Own Betsy Ross

Abby Day Slocomb gets the credit for bringing about the Connecticut state flag in 1897.

Eye of a Newt

Make that eye of a skink. Connecticut’s official amphibian is the five-lined Skink, better known among scientists as Eumeces fasciatus.

A.K.A.

"Constitution State" (official), "The Blue Law State," "The Brownstone State," "Freestone State," "The Land of Steady Habits," "The Nutmeg State," "The Provisions State"

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