Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation

Creative Places: Arts & Letters Database and Trail

Creative Places: Arts & Letters Database and Trail

This project was conceptualized and funded by the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office.

For much of the 20th century, thanks to a synthesis of timing, chance and place, Connecticut attracted some of the world’s leading figures in modern arts and letters, as both visitors and residents.  Here writers and visual artists found inspiration not only in a beautiful landscape and the region’s deep sense of history but also in kindred spirits whose creative output depended on the same kind of original thinking.  Moreover, a long tradition of artists’ colonies and the remarkable institutional support provided by dynamic leaders at places like Yale University and the Wadsworth Atheneum proved instrumental in building audiences and in encouraging public and private patronage of innovative work.

Here at the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation we portrayed the story of arts and letters through our Creative Places project.  The project identified significant sites associated with artists/writers and their work.  Our period of focus was from 1913-1979.  This included artists of the early Modernist period following the Armory Show of 1913, the influx of emigrant artists fleeing Europe in the World War II period, Modernism after the war, the art of the 1960s and into the 1970s, and also a number of other art communities such as the shoreline art colonies.  The visual arts included in our project were arts administration/teaching, crafts and textiles, design, illustration, painting, photography, printmaking, mosaics, murals, and sculpture.  The writers included drama, fiction, journalism, non-fiction, poetry, children’s book authors, and playwrights.

From the beginning of the project in 2013 to the end of the project in 2015 we have identified over 350 places associated with artists and writers, of which over 160 of these places are already designated on the State and/or National Register of Historic Places.  We have written over 150 Historic Resource Inventories to be included in the Creative Places Historic Resources Survey, and we have written over 20 State Register nominations to be listed on the State Register of Historic Places.  The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation is also in the process of creating a Google based interactive map of all the associated places we have listed in our database.  This map will be hosted on a public website and will include private homes as well as public spaces that can be visited.