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(HARTFORD, CT) - Connecticut's Eric Sloane was an artist, an author -- and also a patriot. He believed bells should ring for four minutes at 2 p.m. each July 4 to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. His conviction won over President John F. Kennedy, and in 1963 Congress passed a resolution that all bells on public property be rung accordingly.

Fast forward to July 4, 2004: Sloane's vision will be re-enacted at 2 p.m. at the Sloane-Stanley Museum, one of four state museums open Sunday, July 4 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fellow patriots can visit the Sloane-Stanley Museum in Kent, the Old New-Gate Prison and Copper Mine in East Granby, the Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford and the Prudence Crandall Museum in Canterbury. All four museums are open for the season. Regular hours for the museums are Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All four state museums are celebrating this summer after two years of state budget shortfalls that left them threatened with closure and reduced hours. Each has a unique tie to America's Revolutionary era.

The four museums are now administered by the Commission on Culture and Tourism. Created by the General Assembly in 2003, the commission is designed to identify, preserve, strengthen, and promote Connecticut's cultural and tourism industries in order to enhance the quality of life for its citizens, create a destination for travelers, and contribute to the reputation and economic vitality of the state.

Located on Route 7 in Kent, the Sloane-Stanley Museum exhibits Sloane's extensive collection of hand-tools and examples of his artwork. Early patriotic flags including one with 15 stripes dating back to 1792 are on display, and books relating to American flags are available in the museum gift shop. For information, call (860) 927-3849.

Established as a maximum security prison by the colony of Connecticut in 1773, Old New-Gate Prison was also used during the American Revolution to hold British prisoners of war and those loyal to the British crown. Tour the same copper mine tunnels prisoners lived in before attacking the guards during a mass break-out in May 1781. Old New-Gate Prison is located at 115 Newgate Road in East Granby. For information, call (860) 653-3563.

Unique and interesting artifacts relating to Connecticut's role in the American Revolution are on exhibit at the Henry Whitfield State Museum, including a section of charred rafter from the Daniel and Charity Leete house that was burned by the British during a raid on Guilford in 1781. The museum is located at 248 Old Whitfield Street in Guilford, and also offers Revolutionary period books, games and toys in its gift shop. For information, call (860) 453-2457.

The push for freedom did not end with the conclusion of the American Revolution. Prudence Crandall opened the first school in New England for young African-American girls in a home she purchased to house the school in 1833. It was forced to close shortly thereafter due to strong local opposition. Prudence Crandall was named Connecticut's state heroine in 1995 in recognition of her courageous efforts to provide equal opportunity for all state residents. The museum is located in Canterbury at the junction of Route 169 and Route 14. For information, call (860) 546-7800.

The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism is located at One Financial Plaza, 755 Main Street, Hartford, CT. 06103. For more information, call (800) 411-1312 or (860) 256-2800.


Jennifer Aniskovich, (860) 256-2800
Karin Peterson, (860) 566-3005


Treasure Hunt Through Time

  1. Ridgefield's Keeler Tavern Museum, 132 Main St., is on the National Register of Historic Places and features a British cannonball embedded in the wall. After a visit, stroll Main Street for shopping, dining and a visit to The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art.
  2. Head up to Rte. 7...

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