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  • Wadsworth AthenaeumWadsworth Atheneum Hartford, Connecticut
    The Wadsworth is the oldest public art museum in the country and houses important holdings of American and French impressionist paintings, modernist masterpieces, contemporary works and Hudson River School landscapes; plus excellent holdings in early American decorative arts and furniture. It sits on Main Street in a castle like building in downtown Hartford, Connecticut with 196,000 square feet of exquisite space filled with the most beautiful relics in the country. It is the biggest museum in the state and was started in 1842. It is of Gothic revival architectural style and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970. More commonly called the Wadsworth, it was built on the site of the family of Daniel Wadsworth in the center of the city with architects Alexander Jackson Davis and Ithiel Town designing the castle, which is the oldest building in the museum's complex. Building began in 1842, clearing seen engraved above the front doors, but didn't actually open until 1844. The Wadsworth family was one of the oldest and wealthiest in the old city, who gave many valuable relics of art to the museum to be shown when it opened; consisting of 78 paintings, a bronze sculpture, two marble busts and a portrait miniature. It has been used for dramatic and dance performances, social functions, benefits and exhibits of historical relics. It had some financial difficulties in the beginning of this century, and went through 5 directors and 3 acting directors; but it could be due to the economic problems that we are all facing at this time.  The museum complex is made up of the original castle building and 4 wings that were added later. There is a new design in the works, but it will depend on the economic times. The museum houses about 50,000 objects of art, that include; paintings from French and American impressionist periods, ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian bronzes, Hudson River School landscapes, 18th century French porcelains that contain Sevres and Meissen, Renaissance and Baroque paintings, early American decorations and clothes and early African-American historical relics and art. This magnificent collection includes over 5000 years of world history and artifacts. Outside the castle building, there is a fantastic statue of Nathan Hale, that is dated 1899 and created by Enoch Woods.  The museum is unique in many ways, but one of its best traditions is its list of firsts; which include the first museum in the country to get pieces by Salvador Dali, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Piet Mondrian, Frederic Church and many others. It also held the first American display of surrealism in 1931 and the first major Picasso retrospective in 1934.

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  • The Ancient Burying GroundThe Ancient Burying Ground Hartford, Connecticut
    The ancient Burying Ground is the oldest historic place in the city of Hartford, Connecticut, and the only surviving one from the 1600s. Four years after the first Europeans came to the area, in 1640, all the way to the early 1800s, this was the city's only cemetery and anyone who died would be buried here regardless of anything, including age, gender, race, religion or financial status. The oldest gravestone is that of Timothy Stanley, who passed on in 1648; and there are about 6000 people, men, women, and children, that have been interred in the graveyard, which, at one time, was much bigger than it is today. During the centuries, there have been many buildings put up, including commercial structures and the First Congregational meeting house, built on the grounds of the ancient burying ground, until it was whittled down to the size it is today, four acres. In that era, gravestones were too expensive for regular folks, which the majority of the people interred here were; many estimate that it could be up to 90%. In 1835, there were only 563 headstones in the Burying Ground, and by 1877, only 526 stones left. Presently there are only 415 headstones in the graveyard. In 1836, a campaign started to save the Ancient Burying Ground, led by Daniel Wadsworth, whose father, Jeremiah, was one of the last to be buried there. Part of the project included a concrete obelisk, faced off with brownstone and inscribed with the names of the first settlers in the city, was put up. In 1896, the Ruth Wyllys Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution began to improve the grounds, enclosing it in with wrought-iron fencing to save and repair some of the stones that were left. Emily Seymour Goodwin Holcombe led the project, which meant clearing the slums that had grown up like weeds along the Gold Street area next to the grounds, and she began to be called the Gold Street Lady. She was given a rare honor of being buried there with her husband and daughter. That chapter is still interested in and involved in the Ancient Burying Ground to this day. In 1985, the Ancient Burying Ground Association started an on-going renovation project that has improved the site, using cutting-edge knowledge and up-to-date techniques to clean the stones, or to completely replicate the more than 100 stones that were lost.

January 11, 2011