Perry to be remembered Wednesday

A memorial service for former Mayor Carrie Saxon Perry will be held at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, February 5, at the Arts Collective, at 1200 Albany Avenue.

Perry was the first African-American woman to be elected mayor of a major New England city, serving from 1987 to 1993. She died in the emergency room of Waterbury Hospital on Nov. 22, 2018, but the death remained unknown–even to friends and neighbors who knew her well–for nearly a year. Why that happened remains a mystery, according to the Hartford Courant.

The shameful state of the Old South Burial Ground

See below for a slideshow of more photos.

This Veterans Day, I’d like to draw attention to the Revolutionary War veterans buried in the Old South Burial Ground off Maple Avenue, next to the Fox Elementary School. They include Thomas Y. Seymour, who helped the Americans win two game-changing battles near Saratoga, N.Y., in 1777. Seymour, then a lieutenant, led a regiment that included some of the only American cavalry of the war. Afterward, he was given the sensitive task of escorting to Boston the captured leader of the British troops, Gen. John Burgoyne.

Today, you’d never guess that men and women like Seymour are buried in Old South. The place is a shambles–just as it was when I wrote about it for the New York Times in 2000 and when the Hartford Courant followed in 2012. Some very dedicated volunteers have tried repeatedly over the years to get the cemetery’s owner–the City of Hartford–to take better care of it. But you can see which way things have gone in these photos, taken in early September. Even the chain-link fence the city erected as a half-measure to protect the tombstones has been knocked down.

Click on the side arrows to advance or reverse the slides.

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Re: the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford, people of color in the Ancient Burying Ground, and Sol LeWitt

Cover of Connecticut Explored, Fall 2019 issue

The Fall 2019 issue of Connecticut Explored magazine includes an article from me on the history of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hartford, which was a launch pad for the national B&G Clubs movement. You’ll need a subscription to read it … so subscribe!

Other Hartford-related articles in the issue include:

  • “Unburying Hartford’s Native and African-American Histories,” Katherine A. Hermes’ overview of the effort to tell the stories of an estimated 300-plus people of color who are buried in the Ancient Burying Ground, the city’s earliest extent graveyard. (It also the subject of an episode of “Grating the Nutmeg,” the podcast associated with Connecticut Explored. You can listen here: https://gratingthenutmeg.libsyn.com/.)
  • “The LeWitts Raise a World-Class Artist,” an adaptation of Larry Bloom’s new biography, “Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas.” LeWitt, who became one of the most important artists of the 20th Century though his pioneering work in minimalism and conceptualism, spent the first six years of his life in Hartford. He and his parents lived in a spacious house on the north end of Main Street, not far from the hospital that his father, a surgeon, co-founded: Mount Sinai. But when Sol’s father died of a heart attack in 1934, amid financial troubles brought on by the Great Depression, the boy and his mother moved to an apartment in New Britain.  LeWitt’s connection to Hartford didn’t end there, however. He took art classes at the Wadsworth Atheneum, which would later display his work, though the LeWitt-Hartford relationship was usually, the Hartford Courant notes, contentious.