The Hamden Historical Society Receives CT Cultural Fund
Operating Support Grant from CT Humanities
Connecticut Humanities, the statewide, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), has awarded The Hamden Historical Society a $8,500 CT Cultural Fund Operating Support Grant (CTCFOSG). The funds will be used to augment the hours of the Society's Archivist, in order to enable the accessing and cataloguing of a number of collections that accrued during COVID.
The Hamden Historical Society was one of 624 organizations in Connecticut that was awarded CT Cultural Fund support totaling $16M from CT Humanities. The CTCFOSG are part of $30.7M of support allocated to arts, humanities, and cultural nonprofits through CTH over the next two years by the CT General Assembly and approved by Governor Ned Lamont. The CTCFOSG will assist organizations as they recover from the pandemic and maintain and grow their ability to serve their community and the public.
This grant was administered by CT Humanities (CTH), with funding provided by the Connecticut State Department of Economic and Community Development/Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) from the Connecticut State Legislature. CT Humanities (CTH) connects people to the humanities through grants, partnerships, and collaborative programs. CTH projects, administration, and program development are supported by state and federal matching funds, community foundations, and gifts from private sources. Learn more by visiting cthumanities.org.
Dickerman Family 19th Century Stereoscope Donated
Joan Lyke, 4th great-granddaughter of Jonathan Dickerman II, recently donated this beautiful 19th century stereoscope viewer and several stereo slides to the Hamden Historical Society.
CLICK HERE for more photos, including two views of other Dickerman family items that Mrs. Lyke plans to donate to the Society. The slide in the photo appears to be an 1890s 3D view of Spruce Bank Road.
On December 10, 1896, a group of Highwood residents got together in Visel's Hall on St. Mary Street to formally organize Hamden's first fire company, the Highwood Volunteer Fire Association. After a rocky start, the company finally settled into its permanent quarters at the corner of Dixwell Avenue and Morse Street, where they remained until the company disbanded in 1951.
On November 30, 1950, legendary Hamden Chronicle editor Francis "Bud" O'Connor wrote an article about the history of the Highwood volunteers, at a time when some of the original 19th century members were still living to provide their firsthand accounts. CLICK HERE to read Mr. O'Connor's article, accompanied by several vintage photos.
Paul Saubestre has provided an update to his 2019 article on Hamden population statistics from the decennial U.S. Federal Census enumerations, starting with the first census in 1790, with additional data gleaned from the 2020 census. CLICK HERE!
Sunday, August 29th marked the grand re-opening of the Jonathan Dickerman House and Talmadge Cider Mill Barn following an outstanding three-year restoration performed by master carpenter Bob Zoni.
Both of these historic Hamden landmarks were nearly destroyed in the May 15, 2018 tornado that ripped through the northern Mount Carmel section of Hamden.
The reopening was a huge success, with dozens of visitors attending throughout the afternoon to check out the magnificent restorations of both buildings.
The highlight of the event was the dedication of a red bud tree planted on site by the Hamden Historical Society to honor Bob for his outstanding effort and for the meticulously detailed craftsmanship that went into returning both buildings to their original pre-tornado grandeur. Thank you, Bob Zoni!
CLICK HERE to view photos of the event and for a link to a brief video of the presentation.
The Jonathan Dickerman House and Talmadge Cider Mill Barn are closed until next year, when they once again will be open to the public for weekend tours.
Over the past weekend, Hamden Historical Society President Ken Minkema received this brief history from Barbara Dadio of Hamden's Dadio family and the farm they operated for many years on Putnam Avenue. We are very pleased to share Barbara's wonderful memoir about this iconic Hamden family business with our website visitors.
Shortly after the Dadio property was purchased by the Town of Hamden, the Town put the house to good use before it was razed.
Sunday, August 15th - Hamden Historical Society vice president Eric Lehman and his wife Amy Nawrocki spent this spectacularly beautiful afternoon as docents, providing tours of the Dickerman House and the adjacent Talmadge Cider Mill Barn.
The house and barn have been open to the public from 1 to 4 p.m. every Sunday this month, with the official grandopening of both landmarks scheduled for Sunday August 29th.
Eric is Associate Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Bridgeport. He has written over twenty books on local subjects, including P.T. Barnum and the Dawn of American Celebrity, Afoot in Connecticut: Journeys in Natural History, Tales from the Sleeping Giant, and many more.
Interest in the restoration of the Jonathan Dickerman House is not limited to Hamden residents. North Haven resident Brenda Howlett (center) arrived shortly after the above photo was taken.
A member of the North Haven Historical Society and the North Haven Garden Club, Brenda was eager to check out the outstanding restorations of the house and barn.
CLICK HERE to read Kathy Leonard Czepiel's article about the reopening of the Jonathan Dickerman House in the August 5th edition of The Daily Nutmeg
August 1st: Dickerman House Reopens!
On Tuesday evening, May 15, 2018, an EF1 tornado ripped through Mount Carmel, downing hundreds of trees on Sleeping Giant and along Mt. Carmel Avenue. During the storm a huge pine tree fell onto the 1792 Jonathan Dickerman House right above the front door, crushing the roof and numerous supporting structural members
Over the last three years, with the help of numerous generous donations and grants, and the outstanding craftsmanship of master carpenter Bob Zoni and his associates, the house has been fully restored to its original pre-tornado condition.
On Sunday, August 1, 2021, several members of the Hamden Historical Society's Board of Directors were on hand as the Dickerman House welcomed its first visitors in over three years.
CLICK HERE to see photos of the August 1st event, and how the Dickerman house looks today, inside and out.
The house will be open for visitors from 1 to 4 p.m. every Sunday this month, with a grand re-opening ceremony scheduled for Sunday August 29th at 1 p.m.
The History Room houses over 100 distinct document collections, cataloged and preserved, to meet the research needs and interests of the community. The Library has many texts on state, regional and local history, volumes of agency and government publications, directories of services, and several historical society publications. Regional and town maps from 1854, grave-site directories, family and personal narratives, Bibles, diaries and ledgers from the early families in Hamden complement the document collections and shed additional light on the history of Hamden.
June 16, 2021 - Today marks the 85th anniversary of Hamden's 1936 Sesquicentennial Parade. The Hamden Historical Society has digitized and edited 200' of color and black-and-white film of the parade taken by Dr. Walter S. Lay on June 16, 1936.
Participants have been identified through records provided in Rachel Hartley's 1943 book, "The History of Hamden, Connecticut - 1786-1936" (Quinnipiack Press). Many notables of the era, as well the Hamden Police and Fire Departments and many other participants are included. Floats from several associations are also featured. The featured speaker was Judge John Gilson, president of the New Haven Colony Historical Society. The video concludes with some athletic competition among high school aged boys at Legion Field.
CLICK HERE to watch Dr. Lay's 1936 Hamden Sesquicentennial Parade film on YouTube.
A Hamden treasure, he headed Hamden's Veterans Commission
Abner Oakes, III of Hamden died peacefully surrounded by family on May 29th, Memorial Day weekend 2021. He was the loving husband of Cynthia Miller.
Born in Montreal, Quebec, he was the son of Abner Oakes and Marjorie Allyn Oakes; he lived in Hamden for more than 50 years and was an integral part of the Greater New Haven community. He attended Phillips Academy and graduated from Dartmouth College in 1956.
As a Navy veteran, he became interested in military veterans’ affairs. In 1973 he and his wife Cynthia spearheaded the creation of a monument to veterans in Hamden’s Freedom Park. He founded the Hamden Veterans’ Commission and served as its chairman. In 2010 he was inducted into the Connecticut Veterans’ Hall of Fame.
Friends are invited to attend calling hours with the family on Sunday, June 6, from 3:00 to 6:00 pm at Peter H. Torello & Son Funeral Home, 1022 Dixwell Avenue, Hamden. The funeral service is also open to friends and will take place at the same location on Monday, June 7, at 10:00 am. A private burial service will follow. Those that wish to honor Abner’s legacy can donate to the Wounded Warrior Project athttps://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/.
To read Abner's complete obituary please CLICK HERE.
Hamden Memorabilia Donated to the History Room Archives
We want to extend our sincere thanks to Hollie Schrader, who recently donated this terrific group of Hamden memorabilia to the Hamden Historical Society archives.
Two Hamden High classes chose interesting ways to commemorate their reunions. The committee planning the 45th reunion of the Class of 1954 had their own playing cards printed.
For something completely different, check out the letter opener that was among the gifts to attendees at the 50th reunion of Hamden High School's Class of 1939. Most of those graduates would have celebrated their centennial birthdays in 2021.
An advertisement for Centerville Dry Goods at 2387 Whitney Avenue featured a little girl in a bubble bath with her puppy. Nailing the date of the ad was easy. Twelve small pages may be pulled down from the back of the photo, revealing a 1950 calendar.
CLICK ON THE PHOTO TO ENLARGE THE IMAGE (Kathy Lindbeck photo)
Berman's - 1983
Centerville Dry Goods was located in the small brick building across from the Centerville fire station that would later become Berman's Cleaners. The building was razed years ago.
Located near the New Haven city line, the Center Liquor Store at 863 Dixwell Avenue offered customers a thermometer attached to a Frances Tiption Hunter illustration of a little boy, report card in hand, with his dog along side to offer a measure of consolation. Hunter, born in 1896, was a noted artist and illustrator. Her series of "Sandy in Trouble" water colors, of which this is one example, began in 1946 and lasted until her death in 1957.
The five-digit telephone number on their advertisement, 6-5624, is pre-1950, when those now largely forgotten alpha-numeric telephone exchange names were introduced to the New Haven area by SNET, making Center Liquor's new number MAin 4-5624. The "MAin" exchange name, along with CHestnut, ATwater, LOcust and all the rest, was discontinued by SNET in late 1962. The Center Package Store, as it was known later, was still operating in 1984 but was gone by 1999. Oh, yes, and the thermometer still works perfectly.
The trail map of the Sleeping Giant, dated 8/79, is a real treasure for our archives. If you click on the picture the map can be easily read.
CLICK ON THE MAP TO ENLARGE IT
Thank you, Hollie. These donations are a wonderful addition to our archives.
From The Connecticut Circle, Nov. 1946 (Courtesy of Tony Griego)
Remember this place?
Older Hamdenites will remember the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant on the east side Whitney Avenue, just north of School Street. It was torn down about fifty years ago before construction began on Whitney Towers at the corner of Whitney and School.
This small blurb from the November 1946 edition of The Connecticut Circle magazine suggests that the plant only recently had begun to occupy Hamden's 19th century "historical Cummings Tavern," previously known as the Centerville Inn.
After Pepsi-Cola CEO Alfred N. Steele died suddenly in 1959, his wife, the legendary Hollywood actress Joan Crawford, was appointed to serve on Pepsi's board of directors. In that capacity, Ms. Crawford visited Hamden on a few occasions to check up on local operations.
Nice pre-Tornado View of the Dickerman House (2013)
Kathleen Saunders, a member of Friends of Brooksvale, provided this beautiful view of the 1792 Jonathan Dickerman House, taken in 2013, five years before an EF1 tornado nearly destroyed it along with the Talmadge Cider Mill Barn a few feet away.
CLICK on the image to enlarge. (Photo by Kathleen Saunders)
The tree on the left blew down and struck the roof right above the front door, causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the structure. Master carpenter Bob Zoni, who has been conducting a meticulous restoration of the house, is nearly finished installing the new roof. He expects that the house and the cider mill barn restorations may be ready for a grand re-opening sometime in the late spring or early summer. We will keep everyone posted.
The Hamden Historical Society is grateful for Ms. Saunder's photos. CLICK HERE to view some additional views taken by Kathleen during her 2013 visit to the site.
The Hamden Historical Society along with the West Rock Ridge Advisory Council are going to make it much easier for hikers to get here, which was an overnight sanctuary for a regular visitor who died over 130 years ago. You probably know the answer.
CLICK HERE to read all about the new proposed trail and to view some new photos.
As we near the third anniversary of the tornado that badly damaged the c.1792 Jonathan Dickerman House, and nearly destroyed the c.1800 Talmadge Cider Mill, our own Bob Zoni is re-shingling the J.D. House with the same kind of wood shingles that he used when shingling the roof the last time in 2006. Were it not for the tornado the 2006 roof should have lasted at least 30 years. Click here for more photos.
Jonathan Dickerman House, March 11, 2021 - CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGE
Did you know that a 40-house development was built on Mix Avenue in 1946? Have you ever been on Hobson Avenue at Marietta Street? Where might you find Whitney Lane? And what if someone told you that they had been to the corner of Circular Avenue and Mix Avenue? You might think they were either hallucinating or nipping into the muscatel. Ah, but not so.
CLICK HERE to read Paul Saubestre's informative, indeed fascinating article on how the Wilbur Cross Parkway disrupted some of Hamden's streets when it ripped through our town right after World War II.
Tony Griego is a Hamden Historical Society volunteer researcher whose interests encompass many subjects He is especially interested in those architectural treasures that today are just memories to those who actually remember them. An ongoing project of Tony's has been the history of the David Atwater house, Hamden's first rsidence. Dating from the mid-1600s, the house stood on State Street near Armstrong Street until it burned down in April 1905.
A retired New Haven Police Department sergeant, Tony grew up in the State Street area, where he still resides. He recently submitted the article below to the Quad-Town Advisor. How many Hamden folks know about the lost Quinnipiac railroad station once located on Street Street? Check it out.
The Quad-Town Advisor - Jan. 26, 2021
In its original State Street location
Today located in Chester at the northern end of the Valley RR tourist line.
This is how the site of the Quinnipiac railroad station looks today at 2785 State Street, on the east side opposite Daniel Road. The train just happened to be passing when the shutter snapped. Researcher Paul Saubestre noted with interest that it featured "an Amtrak engine attached to CTrail cars. There are both Amtrak and CTrail trains on the line, but I think usually the engine and cars match."
Paul also noted that today the old Quinnipiac station is located in Chester, at the northern end of the Valley RR tourist line. "I hope Hamden again gets a station on that line someday, more likely off Welton St.," wrote Paul, noting, "Hamden is the largest municipality in the state without rail or bus rapid transit (CTfastrak) service."
The two pictures of the Quinnipiac station shown above are from the Tyler City Station website.
Hamden Historical Society researcher Paul Saubestre is delighted by a recent discovery. One of Hamden's twelve mile markers, Milestone No. 4 on Hartford Turnpike, was thought to have been lost. After Paul made a Facebook posting of his 2019 article on the mile markers last summer, a reader replied that Hartford Turnpike Milestone No. 4 is still around. In fact, it was on her property. Check out this revision to Paul's original 2019 article.
Now, if we could only locate Hamden Milestone No. 6, we would have all twelve.