Holiday Reception Honors Volunteers

Holiday Reception Honors Volunteers

Friday 17 December from 4 to 6 the staff and board of the New London County Historical Society invite you to a holiday reception in honor of our incredible volunteers.

Volunteers at the Shaw Mansion enter data, answer queries, scan photos, shelve books, paint, erect shelves, pull weeds, plan events, add hardware to paintings, play 1861 base ball, give tours, write books and essays, sell books, supervise the executive director, stuff envelopes, add labels, plant and prune flowers and plants, find artifacts, vacuum floors, help raise funds, and decorate for Christmas. Hope you can join us.

Captain Moses Rogers Gets His Due

Captain Moses Rogers Gets His Due

John Laurence Busch, author of the just-released book, Steam Coffin~Captain Moses Rogers and the Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier, will be the speaker at the 14 November, Second Sunday lecture for the New London County Historical Society. The presentation will be given at the event room of the Harbor Towers, 461 Bank Street, in New London.

New London native son Moses Rogers gained his lasting renown as the captain of the first steamship to cross the Atlantic, this work details how that amazing feat was achieved. Rogers was not only the captain, but the champion as well, of the idea that such a venture was even possible. National Maritime Day, recognizing the contributions of America’s merchant mariners, is declared by the President each year on 22 May, the anniversary of Rogers’s departure from Savannah, Georgia, on his voyage.

“The greatest obstacle to building an ocean-going steam vessel in 1818 was overcoming the predominant doubt as to how such a craft could prevail against the incalculable, unpredictable powers of Nature at sea.” Fulton’s first successful steamboat venture was created on the Hudson River only eleven years earlier. Building a craft with the strength to cross the ocean seemed foolhardy at best and wasting precious cargo space to store sufficient fuel for such a long voyage seemed folly. Wooden paddlewheels on the side of the ship, the only technology available at the time, made any such vessel vulnerable to heavy seas.

Rogers and his syndicate were able to face and overcome these difficulties and more. Rogers was the first to venture out of the safety of a river body with a steamboat and proved his abilities in Charleston and Savannah, Georgia. His partners were some of the first to try the new “corporate” business structure. And they found a buyer for the ship once it crossed the Atlantic.

Busch scoured archives and libraries from Savannah, Georgia, to Portland, Maine, in search of information for this 700 page volume. Some of his research was conducted at the New London County Historical Society and at Mystic Seaport.

This meeting of the Historical Society will be hosted by Anthony Silvestri, project manager of New London Harbour Towers, who remarked, “We are always looking for creative ways to collaborate with the community.” The program will begin at 3 PM; refreshments will be served. The program is free for members of the Historical Society and Harbor Tower residents; there is a $5 fee for others. Copies of the book are available for sale for $35 at the Shaw Mansion, and at the program.

For more information please call 860.443.1209 or email <edward at>.

“Live Urban New London!”

“Live Urban New London!”

June 19, 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Tickets in advance $12; on the day of the event $15. www.newlondonlandmarks

Join New London Landmarks to explore the new and expanding urban amenities in New London on a self-guided walking tour.

Discover why New London’s urban dwellers love living downtown.

See for yourself why The New York Times recently lauded the city’s historic harbor and expanding art and music scenes.

Explore unique living spaces and a variety of independent businesses.

See the changes taking place along the beautiful Thames River and throughout downtown.

Stroll along the city streets at you own pace to visit tour stops listed in your LIVE URBAN PROGRAM.

Visit elegant new condos, homes created in historic buildings and the upper floors of downtown retail spaces.

Discover New London’s urban amenities: a yoga studio, interior decorator, artist studios, galleries and more, creating a new environment in the city, a great place to live . . .  to work . . .  and to visit.

Governor Rell Proclaims Shaw Mansion Day

Governor Rell Proclaims Shaw Mansion Day


Governor Rell proclaimed 30 April 2010 to be Shaw Mansion Day in the State of Connecticut and Congressman Joe Courtney dropped by to cut the ribbon as the New London County Historical Society celebrated the completion of a $60,000 project to add an accessible classroom and bathroom to the Shaw Mansion.

The project was made possible by support from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, the Community Foundation of Southeastern Connecticut, the Frank Loomis Palmer Fund administered by the Bank of America, and a matching grant from the State of Connecticut’s Historic Preservation Funds, administered by the Commission on Culture and Tourism.

New London County Historical Society President Deborah Donovan spoke of the difficulty of making some of our historic treasures accessible to individuals who have mobility problems and praised the State for their assistance. Rick Gipstein of Lindsay Liebig Roche Architects was the consulting architect on the project, and the contractor was LaBossiere builders of Norwich.

This Treasure Matters

This Treasure Matters


“Pride and Prejudice” cast members at the Shaw Mansion participated in a campaign of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Faced with budget cuts eliminating Preserve America grant program, the National Trust has asked historic sites from around the country to send in their photos with the message that THIS TREASURE MATTERS. Between shows on Saturday, the cast were only too happy to pose for the photos that were submitted to the National Trust. See the photo slide show at Mr. Darcy, portrayed by Daniel Dykes, and Jane Bennett, portrayed by Julie Rattey, share the message for the New London County Historical Society.


State Historian Walter Woodward to Speak at April Second Sunday

State Historian Walter Woodward to Speak at April Second Sunday

“New England’s Other Witch Hunt:  The Hartford Witch Hunt of the 1660s and the Changing Patterns of Prosecution.”
Walter Woodward, Connecticut’s State Historian, will be making a presentation based on his just published book, Prospero’s America: John Winthrop, Jr., Alchemy, and the Creation of New England Culture, 1606-1676. The presentation will take place on the Connecticut College Campus in Blaustein 210, on 11 April at 2pm, in a program co-sponsored by the Connecticut College history department and the New London County Historical Society.

The book is full of provocative insights. While some are familiar with alchemy, the common knowledge is usually limited to the idea that alchemy was a magical quest to turn lead into gold. Woodward leads us to understand how alchemy was much more than that, “an important contributing factor in the development of modern chemistry and experimental science.” In this work Woodward shows how Winthrop’s alchemical knowledge, and connections emanating from his participation in the Royal Society, empowered him locally, as a favored Connecticut governor, and at the Royal Court in England.

Combining religion, metallurgy, healing, an entrepreneurial spirit and political will, Woodward is able to enlighten the reader with how those elements intertwine. Winthrop’s efforts to found a NEW London was an attempt to create an outpost of scientific research in the wilderness.

Winthrop’s knowledge and authority as a political leader gave him the power to put a brake on witchcraft trials in Connecticut — while he was in the colony.

Too frequently our view of colonial New England culture is limited to puritans as religious zealots locked in a battle with the wilderness. This book jostles that outlook placing a proto-scientific lens on that world and placing Connecticut’s early history within the framework of an Atlantic World Economy. All too often, historians have assumed Connecticut was just like Massachusetts; this work challenges that concept giving us new insight to the past, our local past. This book shines a bright light on southeastern Connecticut.