Connecticut: From Capital to Countryside


With a Celebration of the Trust’s 40th Anniversary

September 14-17, 2017

Founded in 1635 on the Connecticut River, Hartford is among the oldest cities in the country and home to the nation’s oldest public art museum, the Wadsworth Atheneum; the oldest publicly funded park, Bushnell Park; and the oldest continuously published newspaper, The Hartford Courant. The city remained prominent throughout the 19th century as the home of industrialists and literary luminaries such as Samuel Colt, Mark Twain, and Harriet Beecher Stowe. Participants enjoy a comprehensive introduction to four centuries of Connecticut history while also celebrating the Trust’s 40th Anniversary in grand style.


ITINERARY  (subject to amendment)

Thursday, September 14, 2017

  • Opening Remarks in honor of the Trust’s 40th Anniversary,
    Wadsworth Athenaeum, Aetna Theater
    40 Years of Discovery in New England
    Jonathan L. Fairbanks, Honorary Chairman and Past President; Director, Fuller Craft Museum
  • From the Back of Dewey Lee Curtis’ Envelope: 40 Years with the Decorative Arts Trust
    Penny McCaskill Hunt, Past Executive Director; and John Frazier Hunt, Past President and Counsel
  • 40th Anniversary Celebration, Wadsworth Athenaeum, Morgan Great Hall

Friday, September 15

  • Coaches depart for the Connecticut Historical Society
  • Welcome
    Jody Blankenship, Executive Director
  • Collecting the Connecticut River Valley
    Arthur Liverant, Owner, Nathan Liverant & Son, Colchester
  • George Belden and the Cabinetmaking Trade in Federal-Era Windsor and Hartford
    Kevin Ferrigno, Connecticut Historical Society Collections Steering Committee; and Christina Keyser Vida, Independent Scholar
  • Coffee Break
  • Connecticut Needlework: Women, Art, and Family, 1740–1840
    Susan P. Schoelwer, Ph.D., Robert H. Smith Senior Curator, Mount Vernon
  • Lunch at the nearby Town and County Club
  • Our afternoon includes a sequence of in-depth tours. The Connecticut Historical Society, established in 1825, is one of the oldest in the nation and holds more than 4 million manuscripts, graphics, books, historic artifacts, and examples of Connecticut-made decorative arts. Participants enjoy afternoon workshops on furniture and needlework with Mr. Ferigno and Mrs. Vida and Mrs. Schoelwer, respectively.
  • We visit the nearby Mark Twain House (1873), home of Olivia and Samuel Clemens, who hired New York architect Edward Tuckerman Potter to design their home, which showcases its 1880s appearance with interior decoration by Louis Comfort Tiffany. The collection today contains much of the original furnishings.
  • Next door to the Twain House is the Harriet Beecher Stowe House (1871), the home of the famous author and abolitionist. Built for the Stowe family in a cottage style, visitors encounter a collection of 6,000 objects owned by and associated with the Beecher and Stowe families.
  • We are invited for a special evening tour and reception at the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum in Wethersfield, comprised of three 18th-century houses located on their original sites, belonging to Joseph Webb (1752), Silas Deane (1769), and Isaac Stevens (1789).

Saturday, September 16

  • Depart on foot for the Wadsworth Atheneum, Aetna Theater
  • Welcome
    Thomas J. Loughman, Director and CEO
  • From the Renowned to the Obscure: Rethinking American Decorative Arts at the Wadsworth
    Brandy S. Culp, Richard Koopman Curator of American Decorative Arts
  • The Jonathan L. Fairbanks Lecture
    The Great River: Art & Society of the Connecticut River Valley
    William Hosley, Principal, Terra Firma Northeast
  • Coffee Break
  • With Hammer and Tongs: The Wadsworth’s Hammerslough Collection of American Silver
    Jeannine Fallino, Independent Curator
  • Lunch at the Hartford Club
  • We return to the Wadsworth Atheneum, founded in 1842 by Daniel Wadsworth, one of the first major patrons of American art. We have arranged for four curator-led tours, from which participants select two. Linda Roth, Charles C. and Eleanor Lamont Cunningham Curator of European Decorative Arts, introduces the Morgan collection of European decorative arts. Erin Monroe, Robert H. Schutz, Jr., Associate Curator of American Paintings and Sculpture, presents an impressive assemblage of American portraits and Hudson River School landscapes. Ms. Culp leads a walk through the Wallace Nutting collection of American colonial furniture and decorative arts. Ms. Fallino offers an up-close view of American and European silver and metalwork.
  • In the late afternoon, participants may select from three offsite tours in the greater-Hartford area or remain at the Wadsworth for additional exploration.
  • For participants who would like to explore the region’s early-20th-century architectural history, the Avon Old Farm School (1927) and Chick Austin House (1930) are not to be missed. Avon Old Farm founded by Connecticut’s first female architect, Theodate Pope Riddle, who modeled the stone and oak architecture after English models, using traditional building methods. The Austin House was the home of the Atheneum’s legendary and innovative director A. Everett “Chick” Austin, Jr., and designed after an Italian villa with interiors ranging from the Rococo to the radically modern International Style.
  • Members may opt for an outing to Colchester and the shop of Nathan Liverant & Son, situated in the town’s former Baptist Meetinghouse of 1831. Arthur Liverant is the third generation to operate the business and will offer a workshop of Connecticut-made furniture and decorative arts with the assistance of Kevin Tulimieri. Participants in our Winter Antique show tours will attest to Arthur and Kevin’s deep knowledge of Americana.
  • Participants may also elect to remain in Hartford for tours of the city’s two most important historic houses. Built in 1782, the Butler-McCook House was home to the same family for 189 years and features noteworthy colonial furniture made in Connecticut. The Isham-Terry House stands as a relic of 19th-century Hartford. Built in 1854, and a notable example of Italianate architecture, the interiors are beautifully preserved by two generations of the Isham family without modifications for modern amenities.
  • Fundraiser for the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program at the home of Clare and Jared Edwards.
    See details below.

Sunday, September 17

  • Depart on foot for the Wadsworth Atheneum, Aetna Theater
  • The Marie Zimmermann Emerging Scholar Lecture
    A Story of Sunshine and Shadow: Elizabeth H. Colt and the Crafting of the Colt Legacy in Hartford
    Willie Granston, Ph.D. student, History of Art & Architecture, Boston University
  • The John H.A. Sweeney  Emerging Scholar Lecture
    Thistles & Crowns: The Painted Chests of the Connecticut Shore
    Benjamin W. Colman, Associate Curator,
    Detroit Institute of Arts
  •  Coffee Service
  • Elijah Boardman’s Ledgers and the Material Culture of Litchfield County
    Catherine Fields, Director, Litchfield Historical Society
  • Making History, Making Place: A Celebration of Connecticut’s Local Museums
    William Hosley, Principal, Terra Firma
  • Symposium concludes


Thursday Optional Tour: A Day in Farmington

Thursday, September 14

9:00am – 5:00pm

This quintessential colonial town was established in 1640, making Farmington the oldest inland settlement west of the Connecticut River. Settlers found the area ideal because of its rich soil along the floodplain of the Farmington River. During the Revolutionary War, George Washington passed through Farmington and referred to the town as “the village of pretty houses.” Participants visit two private collections along Farmington’s Main Street in the historic village section, which is lined with colonial houses, some of which date back to the 17th century.

Designed by Theodate Pope Riddle, the state’s first licensed female architect, in collaboration with McKim, Mead & White, Hill-Stead (1901) was her first complete architectural project. The house was built for Riddle’s father in the colonial revival style and houses an extraordinary collection of fine art by Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, Albrecht Durer, and more.

The Lewis Walpole Library, a unit of the Yale University Library, was formed from Wilmarth Sheldon Lewis’ collection of books, manuscripts, and prints relating to the antiquarian Horace Wapole and the British 18th century. Our visit includes a viewing of choice manuscripts and decorative arts connected to Walpole and his home, Strawberry Hill, as well as a special exhibition on British satirical prints.

Registration is limited.

Sunday Optional Tour, Option 1: Litchfield, New Milford, and Woodbury

Sunday, September 17

11:30am – 7:00pm

Since 1856 the Litchfield Historical Society has been dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of Litchfield County. The society’s campus also includes the Tapping Reeve House (1774) and Law School (1784). Director Cathy Fields pulls highlights from the Society’s decorative arts collection for our close inspection.

Dixie and David De Luca have renovated an 1834 stone house where an extensive collection of American decorative arts is displayed. Among the highlights are Chapin and Dunlap furniture, paintings by American folk artist Thomas Chambers, and Enoch Woods Shell border Staffordshire with American scenes.

In Woodbury, we are hosted by David Schorsch, recognized as one of the nation’s top dealers in Americana. While his inventory runs the gamut from city to country, he is particularly admired for his insight on folk art.

We have the privilege of visiting an additional private collection in Litchfield County. Housed in a restored 18th-century dwelling moved from upstate New York, the collection features early material from the Continent as well as colonial America.

Before returning to Hartford, we stop in Farmington for dinner at privately owned Fox Hall, built circa 1803 as a wedding present for Abigail and George Cowles from his parents. The Federal-period brick dwelling features an extensive collection.

Sunday Optional Tour, Option 2: Windsor, Suffield, and Granby

Sunday, September 17

11:30am – 7:00pm

The Oliver Ellsworth House (1781) in Windsor, was home to Oliver Ellsworth from 1782 ¬to 1807. Ellsworth helped draft the Constitution and represented Connecticut as a US Senator. The house played host to both George Washington and John Adams. Filled with period furniture, the dwelling remained in the Ellsworth family until 1903.

The Phelps-Hatheway House (1761) was bought by Oliver Phelps, who added a fashionable new wing in 1794. The house was later sold to Asahel Hatheway, remaining in the family for a century. The house is filled with 18th-century Connecticut furniture and features the vibrantly-colored French wallpapers installed by Phelps.

The Windsor Historical Society saved the Strong-Howard House (1758) from demolition in 1925. The home, now fully stabilized and reinterpreted with reproduction artifacts to replicate the life of the Howard family in 1810, offers visitors a hands-on experience interacting with the rooms and home.

Our day concludes with a tour of an excellent private collection in Granby, representing decades of judicious acquisitions of top-quality decorative arts. Our hosts have graciously invited us to enjoy cocktails and dinner before returning to Hartford.

Registration is limited.


Fundraiser for the Emerging Scholars Program at the Home of Clare and Jared Edwards

Saturday, September 16


We are honored by the invitation from Mr. and Mrs. Edwards to host the Trust’s biannual fundraiser at their beautifully restored circa 1880 Queen Anne style house built for William A. Erving and situated in Hartford’s Prospect Avenue National Historic District. The Edwards’ collection ranges broadly from 19th-century fine art to American decorative art, and from artifacts connected to George Washington and Mount Vernon and to antique toys and dollhouses. As important as the objects are the stories that inspired their acquisition, and we will have the privilege of hearing those narratives during a lovely evening in West Hartford.

Please join us for a wonderful evening of connoisseurship and conviviality as we toast our hosts’ hospitality and lend support to the Trust’s efforts to encourage the next generation of curators and academics through a growing series of grants, scholarships, and internships. In 2017, more than three dozen graduate students and young professionals will benefit from the Trust’s Emerging Scholars Program.

Registration is limited.

  • The Hartford Marriott Downtown AND The Hartford Hilton
    Special Room Rates: $169 at both hotels
    The Trust has reserved a block of rooms for September 13-17. These rooms are available on a first-come, first-served basis until August 15. Please make your reservations as soon as possible to ensure availability by calling the Marriott at (860) 249-8000 or the Hilton at (800) 754-7941 and referencing the Decorative Arts Trust.
  • The hotels are 15 miles from Bradley International Airport (BDL) and less than one mile from the Hartford Amtrak station. If driving, valet parking is available for $23 per day.
Terms and Conditions

By registering for this symposium, I/we do hereby release The Decorative Arts Trust from any and all liability in connection with the trip, Connecticut: From Capital to Countryside, for any loss, delay, injury, or damage to or in respect to any person or property however the cause for arising. It is understood that The Decorative Arts Trust has acted as agent for me/us in providing means of transportation or other services and The Decorative Arts Trust is not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time I am/we are participating in this program, and this evidences my/our understanding that The Decorative Arts Trust has not now, nor will have in the future, any liability to me/us due to any consequences arising out of said program or in connection with said program.

Cancellation and Refund:
All cancellations received prior to June 14 are subject to a full refund less a $50 administrative fee per person. Participants canceling between June 14 and August 14 will receive a 50% refund. Refunds will not be made after August 14.



Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

Thank you for subscribing!


Join our mailing list to receive the latest news, tour and symposium announcements from the Decorative Arts Trust.

You have Successfully Subscribed!