Middletown, circa 1899; courtesy of Patrick Shugrue.
Dedicated to preserving the history of Middlesex County and providing programs for adults and children to increase their understanding of the area's past.
NOTE: The General Mansfield House will be open to researchers and for garden tours during the summer of 2016, while the exhibit spaces are being prepared for the new Vanished Port exhibit to open on September 10.
Note: The exhibit, Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown & The Civil War, closed as of June 11, 2016. Thanks to everyone involved in preparing, maintaining and enhancing this major exhibition! The online version of the exhibit will continue to be accessible.
Note: The house exhibit closed on June 11, 2016.
Their Own Stories:
Voices from Middletown's
Opening September 10, 2016
A Vanished Port: Middletown and the Caribbean, 1650-1824. This summer, with the advice and support of a number of local historians, researchers and cultural organizations, the Society is preparing an exhibit that explores Middletown's rich maritime legacy and ties to the 'triangle trade,' the slave-based Caribbean sugar industry in the colonial and early federal eras. Click here for a recent Middletown Press article describing the planning process. Many thanks to CTHumanities and the Maximilian E. & Marion O. Hoffman Foundation for supporting this important exhibit!
Saturday, October 1, 2016, 1:00pm: Middletown For The Union! Tour of Civil War landmarks of Middletown. Uniformed members of the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, Company G, and the Middlesex County Historical Society will lead a tour of Middletown's Civil War sites, concluding with a firing salute at the grave of General Joseph Mansfield in Indian Hill Cemetery. After the tour, return to the Mansfield House for a talk by Buck Zaidel, Society Board member and co-author with Di Longley of Heroes For All Time: Connecticut Civil War Soldiers Tell Their Stories. The tour will start at 1pm at the General Mansfield House, 151 Main St., Middletown. Suggested donation: $10, to benefit Mansfield House restoration and Civil War battlefield preservation efforts. Join us for a lively and instructive fall program!
Sunday, October 2, 2016: The Annual Antique & Classic Car & Truck Show, at Palmer Field in Middletown. A great display of cars, trucks and other vintage vehicles!
Middletown 366: The City of Middletown, the Middlesex County Historical Society, Russell Library, and other local organizations have created a site with daily stories of Middletown history. David Bauer originated the idea to commemorate the 366th anniversary of the founding of Middletown, in this leap year (366 days) of 2016: https://mchs366.wordpress.com/
Middletown history online and on the air...
John Bank's Civil War Blog has a series of posts on General Joseph Mansfield and Robert Hubbard, Middletown natives who served in the war. http://john-banks.blogspot.com/
Wesleyan Assistant Professor of Anthropology Sarah Croucher has created a site, Middletown Materials, on local archaeological digs and the research her students are doing on the artifacts recovered: http://middletownmaterials.research.wesleyan.edu/
Our blog, '150 years ago in Middletown, Connecticut', allows you to experience life in Middletownduring the Civil War, through excerpts from The Constitution, Middletown's Republican newspaper.
June 23, 2016: Beer in Connecticut: A talk by Will Siss, author of Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing, with tastings from Still Hill, Thomas Hooker, and Olde Burnside breweries. Herd on Main in Middletown was an excellent venue for the event; many thanks to them, Will Siss, participating breweries, and everyone who attended!
May 25, 2016: Sheedy Contest Reception. This year there were 18 winning essays; thanks to all the students who participated and congratulations to the winners!
May 21, 2016: National Readathon Day in the gardens of the General Mansfield House. Thanks to those who participated!
May 19, 2016: Max Corvo's Service in World War II. Bill Corvo spoke about his father and his service in the OSS during World War II. Max Corvo worked with 'Wild Bill' Donovan and helped develop the Allied plan for the invasion of Italy. The Hubbard Room was filled to capacity--thanks to Bill Corvo for an excellent talk!
May 13-19, 2016: Art Guild & Garden Club Show. Many thanks to the members of the Art Guild and the Garden Club for an outstanding display of artistry!
May 7, 2016: First Annual Connecticut Historical Appraisal Day. Many, many thanks to Nest Egg Auctions in Berlin, for organizing and hosting this event, and to all who purchased tickets!
April 25, 2016: The annual meeting of the Middlesex County Historical Society. At the business meeting new officers were elected and thanks were extended to past-President Erik Hesselberg and Chair of the Nominating Committee Ron Schatz, who are leaving the Board. The Arthur Schultz Memorial Lecture followed, with Board member Patricia Tully talking about Middletown in the 1860s, glimpsed through the pages of the newspaper The Constitution.
January 19, 2016: Connecticut Gridiron. Bill Ryczek, author of several books on early Connecticut baseball, has just published a book on minor league football in Connecticut in the 1960s and 70s. Thanks to Bill and all who attended!
Friday, November 27 through Thursday, December 17, 2015: Gift Drive for Homeless Women and Men: Thanks to all who contributed to the gift drive--because of your generosity, 38 gifts have been distributed to Middletown's homeless men and women.
December 10, 2015: Hidden History of Connecticut Union Soldiers. Author and Civil War blogger John Banks spoke eloquently on the subject of his latest book, which explores the lives and service of Union soldiers from Connecticut, to a full house at the General Mansfield House. Thanks to John and everyone who attended!
November 27, 2015: Holiday on Main. The General Mansfield Housewas open for the start of Holiday on Main with refreshments and exhibit tours, Including a beautiful display of vintage holiday cards and menus donated by the Chafee family.
October 4, 2015: The Annual Antique & Classic Car & Truck Show, at Palmer Field in Middletown. Another gorgeous day for the show, and the featured car, a 1933 Packard Coupe formerly owned by the late Jarvis Barton and now owned by Bruce Woronoff. We have posted pictures on our Facebook page.
September 12, 2015: Civil War Day--Company F of the 14th Connecticut Vounteer Infantry pitched their tents in the back garden of the General Mansfield House, and demonstrated military drills and camp life. At noon, Edward Ball, author of the book, Slaves in the Family,spoke to a full house, and Tom Callinan, former Connecticut State Troubadour, entertained everyone with music of the era. A good time was had by all!
August 30, 2015: Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market. Thanks to everyone who visited our table and the 45 people who took the Middletown history quiz!
July 15, 2015: Tea and talk in the back garden. Marci Martin, former Rosarian Curator for the Elizabeth Park Conservancy, gave a talk that shone with the love and passion she feels for roses--and people! Thanks to her, her husband Bob (who provided tech support), sponsor Connecticut Underwriters, McInerney's Flower Shop and Greenhouses for providing a rose for each attendee and a lovely arrangement. And of course, thanks to all who attended (hats or no hats), and provided refreshments!
June 19, 2015: Heroes for All Time: Connecticut Civil War Soldiers Tell Their Stories. Dione Longley and Buck Zaidel gave a moving talk highlighting some of the people featured in their recently published book, Heroes For All Time. We are deeply grateful to Di, Buck, our many sponsors, and all who attended. Thanks to you, the Society raised almost $5,000 to maintain the General Mansfield House. Click here for more information.
Congratulations to our 2015 Sheedy Contest winners, and all the third-grade students who submitted an essay on their favorite ancestor! Their stories of courage, endurance and accomplishment are truly inspiring.
May 25, 2015: Middletown's Memorial Day parade: A beautiful day to commemorate all of those who served in the defense of our country. To obtain a copy of one of the vintage Main St. photographs featured in the parade, contact Debby Shapiro at 860-346-0746.
April 29, 2015: The annual meeting of the Middlesex County Historical Society, at the City of Middletown Senior and Community Center (formerly Eckersley Hall School). Over 100 people attended the meeting and the Arthur Schultz Memorial Lecture by Executive Director Deborah Shapiro and the Director of the Department of Planning, Conservation and Development Michiel Wackers. The lecture, "Down by the Riverside," explored the past, present and future of Middletown's riverfront.
April 18, 2015: 10th Annual Mayor's Ball, at the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate. The proceeds benefit St. Luke's Community Services, the Rockfall Foundation, Amazing Grace Food Pantry--and the Middlesex County Historical Society! The Society received $6,500 as its part of the proceeds, which will provide much-needed support for our efforts to preserve and celebrate Middletown's rich past. Thank you to Mayor Drew, the City and everyone who attended!
March 19, 2015: Life and Death on Haddam Quarter Road, a talk by Dr. Michael Good. Through the stories of three members of Durham's Newton family, Dr. Good explored the fragility of life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century and how far modern medicine has advanced since then. Michael Good is the author of The Search for Major Plagge: The Nazi Who Saved Jews. Thanks to everyone who attended this standing-room only talk!
February 24, 2015: Overcoming the Odds: Anna Louise James and Ann Petry Gamble and Win, a talk by Elisabeth Petry. Liz Petry wrote about her family for the recently-published African American Connecticut Explored, a book of essays on the history of African Americans in Connecticut. Thanks to all who braved the cold to attend the talk, and to Liz for an eloquent and fascinating talk about her mother and aunt!
December 9, 2014: Middletown Garden Club celebration. Opening reception for the Middletown Garden Club exhibit , to celebrate their 100th anniversary! If you missed the reception, you have until the end of January to see the beautiful holiday decorations throughout the first floor of the Mansfield House, and the exhibit on the history of the Middletown Garden Club.
December 4, 2014: Author Anne Farrow gave an eloquent talk on the subject of her recently-published book The Logbooks, on Connecticut, the slave trade, and history's selective memory.
November 28, 2014: Holiday on Main Open House. We had a full house with members of the Society, the Middletown Garden Club, and visitors enjoying the exhibits, the Garden Club holiday decorations, and storytelling by Board member Maria Weinberger. Thanks to everyone who made the day a success!
November 13, 2014: Prudence Crandall's Legacy. Despite the threat of snow, author Donald Williams and Prudence Crandall Museum curator Kazimiera Kozlowski spoke to us about this brave and principled Connecticut educator, abolitionist and feminist. After the program Mr. Williams signed copies of his new book on Prudence Crandall. Thanks to all who attended, and to Congregation Adath Israel!
October 8, 2014: Commodore Thomas Macdonough and the Battle of Lake Champlain. It was an interesting and instructive evening with Thomas Macdonough Russell III, Executive Director Debby Shapiro, and Vice President Pat Tully commemorating the 200th anniversary of the battle. It was standing room only in the Mansfield House--thanks to everyone who attended and a special thanks to Peggy and Tom Macdonough Russell III! Artifacts owned by Commodore, a long-time Middletown resident, will be on display through the end of October. See event photos on our Facebook page.
October 5, 2014: 29th Annual Antique and Classic Car & Truck Show. What an amazing day at Palmer Field! Thanks to the show car owners, the spectators and the many voluniteers who made this year's car show a success. Looking forward to the 30th annual show next year! Check out some of this year's entries on our Facebook page.
August 24, 2014: Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market & Festival. Congratulations to our prize winners--Jerry Seagrave won the framed map of Connecticut, and Heather Dodds Krupa won the framed map of Middletown. And a special thanks to everyone who took our Middletown history quiz--it was just as much fun for us working at the table as it was for you!
August 12, 2014: Nails: The Story of Modern Manicure. Author Suzanne Shapiro gave a fun and informative talk at the Wadsworth Mansion, followed by a book signing and dessert reception. Thanks to Suzanne, event sponsors Colebrook Financial Co., Connecticut Underwriters, Inc., Long Hill Estate Authority, and Shapiro Law Offices, and everyone who attended!
Congratulations to our 2014 Sheedy Contest winners, and all the third-grade students who submitted an essay on their favorite ancestor! Their stories of courage, endurance and accomplishment are truly inspiring. Check out more photographs on our Facebook page.
June 14, 2014: Connecticut Open House Day. It was our best open house ever, with over 30 visitors. Thanks to all!
May 26, 2014: Middletown's Memorial Day parade, in honor of disabled veterans.
Awards for Hard & Stirring Times exhibit
The American Association for State and Local History awarded the Middlesex County Historical Society a 2010 Award of Merit for the exhibit: Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown & the Civil War.
The Connecticut League of History Organizations awarded the Middlesex County Historical Society a 2010 Award of Merit for the exhibit Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown & the Civil War, the online version of the exhibit, and the development of curriculum using the Society's Civil War archives for local middle and high schools.
Thank you for your support!
The Middlesex County Community Foundation awarded the Society a grant for the upgrade of this website.
CTHumanities provided support for the development of the Civil War section of the website.
Thanks to the Middlesex County Historical Society's Antique & Classic Car Show Committee for their continued support of the Society.
And most of all, thanks to our members for giving their time, talents and donations to the Society. Your support is essential to the work we do, and we deeply appreciate it!