Local stops on the Women’s Heritage Trail highlight rich history

March 24 – As Women’s History Month continues, those interested in learning more about the many influential women who made Connecticut their home while leaving their mark can visit preserved sites along a trail dedicated across the state that an organization strives to popularize.

The Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, based in New Haven, has compiled a list of 15 such historic sites called the Connecticut Women’s Heritage Trail.


1. The Old State House, 800 Main Street, Hartford.

2. Harriet Beecher Stowe Centre, 77 Forest Street, Hartford.

3. Hill-Stead Museum, 35 Mountain Road, Farmington.

4. Martha Parsons House, 1387 Enfield Street, Enfield.

5. Windham Textile and History Museum, 157 Union St., Windham.

6. Prudence Crandall Museum, 1 S. Canterbury Road, Canterbury.

7. The Thankful Arnold House, 14 Hayden Hill Road, Haddam.

8. Osborne Homestead Museum, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby.

9. Birdcraft Museum & Sanctuary, 314 Unquowa Road, Fairfield.

10. Lockwood-Matthews Mansion Museum, 295 West Ave., Norwalk.

11. Hanford Silliman House, 13 Oenoke Ridge, New Caanan.

12. Bush-Holley Historic Site and Visitor Centre, 47 Strickland Road, Greenwich.

13. Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, 211 Main Street, Wethersfield.

14. Florence Griswold Museum, 96 Lyme St., Old Lyme.

15. Katherine Hepburn Cultural Center for the Arts, 300 Main Street, Old Saybrook.

“We want people to be able to walk around and see all these places and learn about all the fabulous women who have lived in the state, which is why we created it,” said Sarah Lubarsky, executive director of the Hall of fame.

“It’s all about education, the accomplishments and achievements of women and women, and women’s history, so people know what women have done to contribute to our world,” Lubarsky added.

The trail features women-centric historical sites that would be “good role models,” Lubarsky said, adding that educating people about women’s history is her organization’s priority.

One of the sites on the trail is the Martha Parsons House in Enfield, home to one of the state’s first female entrepreneurs.

“Martha has adopted a more commercial mindset,” said Dee Mack, a member of the Enfield Historical Society, which operates the Parsons House as a museum.

Mack added that in the early 20th century, Parsons used his wits and shorthand skills to rise through the ranks at Lander, Frary & Clark, a manufacturer of home appliances. Eventually, she rose to a position in the company equivalent to vice president.

Despite her high position in the company, she was asked to sign all letters as “MA Parsons” so that her gender would not be revealed.

“It was never said that she was a woman in such a high position,” Mack said, adding that Parsons was so well off that she was able to retire in her 50s and donate to her community, including $1,600 to buy an ambulance. for Enfield.

Parsons, who remained unmarried throughout her life, lived with her two sisters in the house until her death in 1962 at the age of 95.

“There were just three women in the house, just doing their thing, making their own decisions…I mean, it’s really, really interesting that they were doing all that stuff back then,” Mack said.

Inside the museum is a stairwell decorated with George Washington memorial wallpaper that was installed in the 18th century, as well as a framed and mounted “mourning jewel” made from the human hair of a member of the Parsons family after their deaths.

Another nearby stop on the Women’s Heritage Trail is the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, where Stowe lived until her death in 1896.

Stowe is the author of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin,’ a book centered on the horrors of slavery that helped galvanize people against it, said Beth Burgess, director of collections and research at the museum. .

“She was, in her day, an international celebrity,” Burgess said, adding that Stowe wrote more than 30 works during her career and led a public life “at a time when it really wasn’t normal for women, or expected.”

Burgess added that the Beecher family she was part of was “nationally revered,” like the Kennedy family in the 20th century, and Stowe used that status to help others.

“She spent her life speaking out for those who couldn’t, because she had this platform to do so,” Burgess said, adding that after the Civil War ended, Stowe worked for an education. equal to former slaves.

Visitors to the Stowe Museum can be given a tour of the house and learn more about his life, as well as 19th-century social issues, according to the center’s website.

People interested in visiting the other 13 sites along the trail can use a phone app called “ConnTours” created by Connecticut Humanities to guide them to each stop, Lubarsky said.

In addition to creating the Women’s Heritage Trail, the CT Women’s Hall of Fame also offers programs that educate about important local women, past and present, who could serve as role models.

Ben covers Coventry and Tolland for the Journal Inquirer.

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