Friday, March 29, 6:00 pm — 7:30 pm
Center Church, 60 Gold Street, Hartford
Tickets — FREE and open to the public

Considering Coltsville: A Revolving Story

In 2014, Congress authorized the creation of Coltsville National Historical Park just blocks away from downtown Hartford as a public-private partnership in the model of Lowell National Historical Park. Coltsville, comprising the Colt Armory as well as the “city within a city” where employees at the factory lived and worked, exists at a confluence of past and present—in the process of becoming a fully-realized National Park Service historic site, but still very much a part of the surrounding community. The Church of the Good Shepherd on the Coltsville campus serves an active congregation today. Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, the nation’s most prominent gun safety legislator, has relocated his office to the partially-renovated factory complex.

This event, facilitated by Sarah Pharaon of the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, will gather public historians, local activists, and National Park Service representatives for a public conversation about the ongoing planning process for the Coltsville campus. Coltsville recalls a time when manufacturing provided employment for many Hartford residents, but its long existence as a firearms manufacturing center complicates this story. Located in a city with a long history of gun violence and just an hour’s drive from Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the park faces challenges in its interpretation of firearms, gun violence, and other critical public issues.

This is a rare opportunity for an exploratory conversation about how to approach extremely sensitive and politically-charged topics through public history. Coltsville will tell the story of gun manufacturing, but can the park also tell stories about the impact of this industry on Hartford (and the nation) today? How might Coltsville provide safe spaces for productive dialogue? What roles might the park play in supporting local efforts to address the very different legacies of manufacturing loss and gun violence? NCPH and its local partners invite all community stakeholders and the general public to learn about the background and status of park from representatives of the National Park Service, but more importantly, to share local stories, hopes, and concerns for what the park can mean for Hartford.

Facilitator: Sarah Pharaon, International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
Participants: Reverend Henry Brown, Mothers United Against Violence
Warren Hardy, Connecticut Center for Nonviolence
Thea Montanez, Chief of Staff, Hartford City Hall
Iran Nazario, Peace Center of Connecticut, Inc.
Rebecca Stanfield McCown, National Park Service

Sponsored by Connecticut Humanities. 


Saturday, March 30, 8:00 am — 10:00 am
Connecticut Convention Center
Tickets — $23
Keynote Address —  Maisa Tisdale, Mary and Eliza Freeman Center for History and Culture, “Public History: Repair Work Revolution”

Founded in 2009, the Freeman Center owns, and is restoring, the Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses (circa 1848), the last original buildings of “Little Liberia” (circa 1822), a settlement of free people of color. The Freeman Center seeks to establish an African American historic site and education center. Ms. Tisdale has advocated for the preservation of the Freeman Houses since 1994. Under her leadership, the Freeman Center volunteers have not just focused on saving and restoring the homes, but on achieving a safe, healthy, and uplifting “built” environment in Bridgeport’s South End—in the context of historic preservation, community development, and climate change.

Tisdale earned a BA in Asian Studies from Yale University and strengthened her background in African American Studies there. She also studied Sociology at Columbia University. Tisdale worked as a private contractor for the US Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs for many years; and has worked as: Executive Director of The Ocean Classroom (Bridgeport, CT); Assistant Director of Admissions at Fairfield University; and Manager of Sponsorships and Grants, at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. Maisa Tisdale and five generations of her family were born in Bridgeport.

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Sponsored by Canada’s History.