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Artwork above: Amy Kaplan, May/June from her Dreamweave series
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Posted by Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District | Bridgeport
BRIDGEPORT, CT – June 7, 2021 – The Bridgeport Downtown Special Services District (DSSD) was thrilled to celebrate the success of its collaboration with The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community and local artist Aisha Nailah to produce a public mural commemorating the legacy of Bridgeport heroes Mary and Eliza Freeman. Downtown Bridgeport is a commercial area that represents and serves a diverse tapestry of the wider Bridgeport community. The public parks and independently owned restaurants and shops that populate the street-level spaces in the neighborhood create connection points that foster the sense of community so special to the Downtown and the city. The mural unveiled on Saturday, June 5, 2021, “colored in” another corner of an emerging public art destination within Downtown Bridgeport.
The installation connects the Broad Street Steps with the ground mural at Peacock Alley, and the Arrows Weave mural located at 1163 Main Street. The mural will attract daily visitors to enjoy the improved physical setting of the space and educate them about the history and legacy of the Mary and Eliza Freeman.
Born in Derby, CT; Eliza (1805-1862) and Mary (1815-1883) Freeman were sisters, free women of African American and Paugussett ancestry, who proudly made Bridgeport's "Liberia" their home. After leaving Derby in 1843, they lived in New York City where Mary worked as a hotel chef. In 1848, the same year Connecticut ended slavery, the sisters purchased adjoining lots on Main Street and built two modest, wood-frame houses. By 1855 both sisters occupied their homes (initially rented). Mary continued to work in Manhattan as a chef, taking advantage of rail service inaugurated in 1848. Eliza worked in the home of a local widow. They invested their earnings in real estate.
Little Liberia (c.1821) was a seafaring community of free people of color and an Underground Railroad Destination Community. It boasted Bridgeport’s first free lending library, a school for colored children, businesses, fraternal organizations, and churches. Its development boom owes much to Mary and Eliza Freeman. The eastern block of Main Street was largely undeveloped until they arrived - followed by the Duncan House Hotel which attracted a cosmopolitan array of patrons from throughout the Black Atlantic world (mentioned in a letter to Frederick Douglass).
Both sisters developed, bought & sold real estate; managed property; and financed home purchases before women had the right to vote! When Mary Freeman died the only Bridgeporter of greater wealth was P.T. Barnum. The homes of the sisters, under restoration, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places for their significance to African Americans and Women. Their story highlights Little Liberia's legacies of freedom, entrepreneurship, and social innovation.
“The mural also commemorates and celebrates the decades of efforts by historians and residents to reincorporate the story of the Freeman sisters into local and national history. It’s a milestone and a source of accomplishment and joy,” said Maisa Tisdale, President and CEO of The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community.
“The story of the Freeman sisters and the Little Liberia neighborhood is one of liberation, and it is significant and should be well known. I am honored to have been chosen to commemorate an important part of this city's history, of my own black history, and women's history. Needless to say I am inspired,” said Aisha Nailah, the artist who created the mural.
“We are so excited to support this mural in Downtown Bridgeport. This commercial and residential community radiates with diversity, and this mural project will provide an opportunity to add vibrancy, spread color and joy through public art, and add to the neighborhood’s identity making our place one of value. None of this would have been possible without our community of supporters who contributed to the Sustainable CT crowdfunding campaign. We thank each of them for their commitment to Downtown Bridgeport,” said Lauren Coakley Vincent, President and CEO of the Bridgeport DSSD.
“We’re pleased that we can provide a prominent location to display this beautiful mural and participate in telling the story of its rich history. We work closely with and support The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community, and are happy to collaborate with them on this project,” said Kim Morque, HSW Bridgeport representative and Bridgeport DSSD Vice Chair.
The process to create the mural engaged neighborhood stakeholders to add to the growing network of murals in pedestrian plazas, creating a pathway connected by visual art through different elements of the neighborhood. The Bridgeport DSSD successfully raised $7,500 from a crowdfunding campaign supported by Sustainable CT and over 20 individual donations, including significant support from Bridgeport Generation Now, demonstrating broad support from residents, businesses, and other organizations throughout the community.
Posted by Admin | Norwalk
Norwalk, CT, June 1, 2021 - The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum has received a donation of outstanding Herter Brothers furniture from R. Joseph Wiessinger, a collector and resident of Belleair, Florida, and frequent LMMM visitor. LMMM’s new acquisition will be displayed for viewing in the Museum’s Period Rooms.
Mr. Wiessinger has been an avid collector of Herter Brothers furniture for the past forty years, a passion that sparked when he received from his parents a walnut wardrobe from the 1870s, which they sent to him to help him furnish his first apartment. He quickly became mesmerized with the color and texture of the beautiful wood finish.
The Herter Brothers firm was founded in 1858 by two German immigrants in New York City, Gustave and Christian Herter; their company became among the most sough-after in the U.S. providing custom made cabinetry and interior decoration services.
Mr. Wiessinger said that he once acquired a Herter chair from an antiques dealer and digging into data and documents to ascertain its history and provenance, he realized: “It was from the 1879-1881 commission by W.H. Vanderbilt for his new mansion at 640 5th Avenue, in New York City. “ The Herter Brothers had designed and constructed all the furnishings for that residence. Mr. Wiessinger later donated the chair to the Metropolitan Museum and said it is on display in the American Decorative Arts rooms of the museum to accompany other Herter furniture from the same mansion.
The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum has an extensive Herter Brothers furniture collection and the Herters’ woodwork can be seen throughout the house. Charles D. Mathews’ daughter, Florence, who lived at the Mansion until her death in 1938, wrote about the Herters’ furniture in her diary. The furniture described had been ordered by the Lockwoods, but they never received it due to their entanglement in the first Black Friday on Wall Street and subsequent loss of their fortune.
“The second summer,” wrote Florence Mathews, “Father found the furniture for the large drawing room. It was a curious fact that when the original furniture was designed, two sets must have been made. One sold to Mr. Lockwood to match in every detail the room for which it was intended. It was done in rosewood like the doors and with a woman’s head in each piece on a dark blue background to coincide with the heads on the canvas.”
Mr. Wiessinger said, “It has been a delight to search out and find wonderful historic pieces by high quality furniture makers and then, after enjoying them in my home, to donate to museums so the public at large can see and enjoy them as well and learn about 19th century furniture.”
Posted by Admin | Redding
Combining the magic of reading and Redding’s uniquely scenic natural backdrop, the Mark Twain Library has created enchanting pathways around town, each featuring a different picture book.
“We are thrilled to launch the library’s first StoryWalks®, especially after such a long and isolating year,” said Library Director Beth Dominianni. “We know they will inspire family interest in language and literacy, while encouraging healthy outdoor activity in and around the bucolic woods of Redding.”
StoryWalk® is an innovative way for all ages to enjoy reading and the outdoors at the same time. The idea was created by Anne Ferguson, a chronic disease prevention specialist in Montpelier, VT, in 2007, in conjunction with Rachel Senechal from the Kellogg-Hubbard Library. Knowing that physical activity is a key component to good health, her goal was to initiate an activity that would keep families moving. But she found that no matter what the offering, adults would stand separately, talking amongst themselves while the children were engaged in the pastime.
“I knew I wanted to create something where the parents had to be as active as the children,” said Ferguson. “And I wanted my project to be free so financial limits would not interfere with people enjoying it.” The result has grown into a worldwide literary phenomenon: StoryWalks® have sprouted up in parks, at libraries, along forest trails, in seniors’ residences, on Main streets, and in hundreds of outdoor community spaces across the U.S. and 13 countries including, Germany, Canada, England, Bermuda, Russia, Malaysia, Pakistan and South Korea.
Mark Twain Library Children’s Librarians Lisa Cederbaum and Mary Hoskinson-Dean, along with Library Director Beth Dominianni, selected the colorfully charismatic titles and collaborated with the Town of Redding, the Redding Land Trust and Putnam Park to secure fun and easy to navigate locations.
A heartfelt thanks to our anonymous donor for underwriting The Mark Twain Library StoryWalk®. We hope you enjoy this gift of time with your family and friends.
For more information about the StoryWalk® Project, visit https://www.kellogghubbard.org/storywalk. The Mark Twain Library is owned by the Mark Twain Library Association. It was founded in 1908 by Samuel Clemens – Mark Twain himself – one of Redding’s most celebrated residents. Visit www.marktwainlibrary.org, for more information.
Posted by Admin | Stamford
New Paradigm Theatre (NPT) has chosen nonprofit community partner, Kids Helping Kids in Stamford for their Live August production of FOOTLOOSE!
New Paradigm Theatre (NPT), a company well-known for its inventive productions that are presented with multi-cultural, multi-generational and multi-gendered casting has chosen a community nonprofit that echoes the themes in their upcoming live production of FOOTLOOSE.
Each summer The New Paradigm Theatre Company partners with another non-profit organization that reflects the theme of the summer production to raise money and awareness for issues and organizations surrounding the community. For FOOTLOOSE, NPT is proud to partner with Kids Helping Kids.
Kids Helping Kids mission is to develop leadership skills among students through youth-led service projects. They empower students to have a proactive attitude toward change by taking their passion and turning it into action to benefit low-income children in the community. “Kids Helping Kids is so in alignment with the message provided by FOOTLOOSE, celebrating the wisdom of listening to young people, guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind. Kids Helping Kids has been focused on the power of youth and their voice for the past 10 years.” says executive director, Jennifer Bentley, Over 5,000 kids from 132 local schools have been involved with KHK because KHK gives students a voice, the tools, the belief in themselves and a path to make a difference now.
To kick things off, NPT youth volunteered at an annual Kids Helping Kids event called the “Handle with Care Dress Boutique”.
This annual Handled with Care Dress Boutique project started in 2012 when Allison,16, went out shopping for a prom dress and realized how hard it must be for girls that could not afford to purchase a new dress.
Watch our short partnership video on YouTube (click Website box below)
“We think this will be a powerful partnership because it not only aligns with the show, FOOTLOOSE, but also with our own non profit’s mission of promoting social responsibility and fostering creative problem solvers, leaders, and global citizens through theatre arts education and productions.”
NPT’s Artist Director and Broadway veteran, Kristin Huffman (Milford CT) says, “New Paradigm Theatre believes that we can produce shows and display a social justice conscience. These shows not only entertain with Broadway pros on stage, but they also connect directly to our community. During the rehearsals many youth from both organizations and college interns will participate side-by-side with Broadway pros to learn and to create this production of FOOTLOOSE.”
As partnerships between nonprofits continue to form in order to tackle social challenges from all sides, and as youth lead the way to a better world, this type of collective impact production has become increasingly relevant and a vital component of a community.
For more info on the show which will be performed at Black Rock Church’s state of the art theatre please visit: www.nptheatre.org and for more info on Kids Helping Kids visit: KidsHelpingKidsCT.org