The serene and beautiful village green in Litchfield, Connecticut hardly seems the setting for spies and intrigue. But during the Revolutionary War, this classic New England town in Western Connecticut was a hotbed of activity. This surprising history will come to life during the Litchfield History Museum’s Spy Weekend, September 19 to 21.

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The special activities are added reason to discover Litchfield, a town also noted for its early architecture, Colonial inns, fine dining and great shopping.

The fun begins on Friday night when a showing of the film, The Scarlet Coat, a 1955 swashbuckling historical drama starring Michael Wilding, Cornel Wilde, and George Saunders. The movie tells of the creation of the first “American Secret Service,” with Litchfield’s own Benjamin Tallmadge in the main role (though Hollywood has changed his name). The film will be shown at 7 p.m. at the Litchfield Community Center. Admission is free and popcorn will be served!

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Author Richard Welch will discuss his new book on Benjamin Tallmadge, “General Washington’s Commando.” on Sunday at 3 p.m. Welch will describe Tallmadge’s roles during the Revolutionary War, including his work as intelligence and counter-intelligence officer, as well as dragoon commander and master of combined land-sea operations. The program is free for members; $5 for non-members.

A guided walking tour on Saturday at 10 a.m. will relive Litchfield during the Revolution, when families were divided by those loyal to the British crown and those seeking independence and intrigue were in the air. Guides will point out historic sites where prisoners of war were jailed, and where a military presence guarded stores and provisions. The tour is free to members, $10 for non-members. Registration is required for the Saturday and Sunday programs, by email at or by phone at

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On Sunday afternoon, there will be an added bonus as the Litchfield Fire Company hosts the 131st annual state Firefighter’s Convention ending with a parade featuring over 1,000 firefighters from all over Connecticut.

For information about lodging, dining and other activities in the area and a free copy of UNWIND, a full-color, 163-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills of Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit

Learn the Most Embarrassing Things about George Washington Through Improv

On a one dollar bill, George Washington may appear to be an imposing figure, but did you know that he, too, was embarrassing sometimes? Join the Litchfield Historical Society in welcoming Christina Frei on Wednesday, January 8 at 3:00 pm as we explore the Top 10 Most Embarrassing Things about George Washington!


No need to sit in front of a screen on this half-day—using games, magic, and comedy improvisation, participants will learn all about our first president. Through this funny and interactive program, your kids will learn all sorts of new and embarrassing historical facts to share at the dinner table. No stage experience is necessary!

Christina Frei is a motivational youth speaker and performer from Connecticut. She uses stories about the Founding Fathers and their “Revolutionary thinking” to turn children into confident leaders. A master at storytelling, Frei has also written a book, 5 Rockstars of the American Revolution: Surprising Stories and Big Life Lessons of the Founding Fathers. She has been featured on the History Channel, the Today Show, and NBC News.

This event is open to kids ages 9 and up, and is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Registration is required—please register by Monday, January 6 for this event by calling (860) 567-4501 or emailing

The Litchfield History Museum is located at 7 South Street, Litchfield, CT. For more information about this or other programs, please call (860) 567-4501 or see For area information

The Litchfield Historical Society, along with the Torrington Historical Society and the League of Women Voters of Litchfield County, are pleased to introduce two documentaries with riveting new footage illustrating the history of civil rights in America. These three organizations will offer a series of programs once a month in February and March in 2014.


Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities that uses the power of documentary films to encourage community discussion of America’s civil rights history. NEH has partnered with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to develop programmatic and support materials for the sites.

The Litchfield Historical Society is one of 473 institutions across the country awarded a set of four films chronicling the history of the civil rights movement. Each film is available on the historical society’s website to view before each formal program led by local humanities scholar. The schedule of films is as follows:

Thursday, February 20, 2014 7:00 pm, Torrington Historical Society: “The Loving Story”

Our second civil rights film discussion will take place at the Torrington Historical Society. Led by Tom Hogan, former lawyer and legal history professor at UConn, we will take a look at a groundbreaking case that dealt with the legality of interracial marriages. The documentary brings to life the Lovings’ marriage and the legal battle that followed through little-known filmed interviews and photographs shot for Life magazine. Participants will view film clips from the HBO documentary.

Thursday, March 20, 2014 7:00 pm, Litchfield Historical Society: “Freedom Riders”

Litchfield blogger and history professor Pete Vermilyea brings to light the activities of the freedom riders in the last of our film series. Freedom Riders tells the terrifying, moving, and suspenseful story of a time when white and black volunteers riding a bus into the Deep South risked being jailed, beaten, or killed, as white local and state authorities ignored or encouraged violent attacks. The film includes previously unseen amateur 8-mm footage of the burning bus on which some Freedom Riders were temporarily trapped, taken by a local twelve-year-old and held as evidence since 1961 by the FBI.

Each of the films was produced with NEH support, and each tells remarkable stories of individuals who challenged the social and legal status quo of deeply rooted institutions, from slavery to segregation. Created Equal programs bring communities together to revisit our shared history and help bridge deep racial and cultural divides in American civic life. Visit for more information.

The Created Equal film set is made possible through a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative, in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

These programs are free and open to the public. Registration is required—please register by calling (860) 567-4501 or emailing

For more information on these programs, please check our website, or call 860-567-4501.

Litchfield: The Making of a New England Town

On Saturday November 3, Historic New England and the Litchfield Historical Society host an event with local author Rachel Carley to award Litchfield: The Making of a New England Town Historic New England’s eighteenth Book Prize.

The afternoon starts at 1:00 p.m. with a reception and remarks by the prize winner Rachel Carley, followed by a book signing. The award-winning book, published by the Litchfield Historical Society is available for purchase at the event.

To attend, please call 617-994-5934 or e-mail The event is free, but space is limited. The Litchfield Historical Society is at 7 South Street, Litchfield, Connecticut.

Litchfield: The Making of a New England Town is a lively exploration of the town’s history and architecture, not only during the colonial period but also during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book is generously illustrated with maps, photographs, and paintings of this quintessential New England town, including many that are published for the first time. Carley is a preservation consultant and architectural historian. Her previous books include Building Greenwich, Architecture and Design, 1640 to the Present; The Visual Dictionary of American Domestic Architecture; Cuba: Four Hundred Years of Architectural Heritage; Cabin Fever; A Guide to Biltmore Estate; and Wilderness A to Z. She is a resident of Litchfield.

About Historic New England’s Book Prize

The Historic New England Book Prize recognizes works that advance the understanding of the architecture, landscape, and material culture of New England and the United States from the seventeenth century to the present. This includes works in the decorative arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and the history of photography. To qualify, works need not deal exclusively with New England but must make a significant contribution to our understanding of New England and its relation to the wider world.

About Historic New England

Historic New England is the oldest, largest, and most comprehensive regional heritage organization in the nation. We bring history to life while preserving the past for everyone interested in exploring the authentic New England experience from the seventeenth century to today. Historic New England owns and operates thirty-six historic homes and landscapes spanning five states. The organization shares the region’s history through vast collections, publications, public programs, museum properties, archives, and family stories that document more than 400 years of life in New England. For more information visit

For area information visit