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Explore Connecticut's literary trail with Connecticut Humanities’ new app

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Dr. Jason Mancini took over as executive director of Middletown-based nonprofit Connecticut Humanities in late 2017. One of his initiatives was to develop a smartphone app that not only highlighted the people and places integral to the history of Connecticut, but to drive foot traffic to the heritage sites and organizations.

The app is called ConnTours, and some of the tours you can take include the Freedom Trail, the Women’s Heritage Trail and, of course, the Literary Trail. “The idea behind the app is telling some of the stories that Connecticut residents may not know,” says Gregg Mangan, manager of digital humanities. “There are sites that people may drive by every day without appreciating the history that happened there.”

Mangan says selecting the 11 stops on the Literary Trail was not easy. He wanted to be sure there was something worthwhile to see “so we weren’t sending people out to a gas station and have them try to imagine that there used to be an 18th-century tavern there.”

Here are the 11 current stops on the Literary Trail, but be sure to check back as the app is continuously evolving. “We hope that the number of tours out there will forever be growing,” Mangan says, “and that no tour is ever truly considered complete.” 

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The Billiard Room of the Mark Twain House in Hartford, Connecticut.

The Mark Twain House & Museum

351 Farmington Ave., Hartford, marktwainhouse.org

The father of American literature was born in Missouri but wrote The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at his house in Hartford. The 11,500-square-foot home has 25 rooms.

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The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe Center

77 Forest St., Hartford, harrietbeecherstowecenter.org

The author of more than 30 books is best known for Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Born in Litchfield, Stowe lived the final 23 years of her life in her home on Forest Street. It was renovated and opened to the public in 1968.

Noah Webster House

227 S. Main St., West Hartford, noahwebsterhouse.org

Webster wrote the first American dictionary and, in Mangan’s words, “defined a new American version of the English language.” The Yale graduate was born in West Hartford in 1758. 

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American playwright Arthur Miller and his wife Inge Morath outside their home, Roxbury, Connecticut, 1975.

Arthur Miller Gravesite

80-82 North St., Roxbury

The playwright gave us Death of a Salesman and The Crucible, but he’s also well known for his marriage to Marilyn Monroe. Miller was a victim of the McCarthy-era Communist hunt, and spent time in prison, but used the experience to help him write The Crucible.

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Pulitizer Prize winning playwright Thornton Wilder is buried in the modest Mount Carmel Cemetery on Whitney Avenue in Hamden.

Thornton Wilder Gravesite

3777 Whitney Ave., Hamden

The only writer to receive a Pulitzer Prize in both drama and fiction is known best for the play Our Town. He used the money he earned from The Bridge of San Luis Rey to build a house in Hamden.

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A marker along the Wallace Stevens Walk in Hartford,

The Wallace Stevens Walk

690 Asylum Ave. to 118 Westerly Terrace, Hartford, stevenspoetry.org

Stevens never learned to drive and walked to work each day, composing poems in his head along the way. The 2.4-mile walk is marked by 13 granite markers, each with a stanza from “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

Cedar Hill Cemetery

453 Fairfield Ave., Hartford, cedarhillcemetery.org

This 270-acre cemetery is the final resting place of writers Wallace Stevens, Dorothy Ulrich Troubetzkoy and Charles Dudley Warner, in addition to notable Connecticut names like Katharine Hepburn, Samuel Colt and J.P. Morgan.

The Gertrude Chandler Warner Boxcar Children Museum

One S. Main St., Putnam, boxcarchildrenmuseum.com

A lifelong Putnam resident, Warner was best known for The Boxcar Children, published in 1924. The Aspinock Historical Society acquired an authentic 1920s boxcar and opened the museum in 2004.

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The Tantaquidgeon Museum in Uncasville.

Tantaquidgeon Museum

1819 Norwich-New London Tpke., Uncasville, mohegan.nsn.us

Gladys Tantaquidgeon’s life spanned three centuries, as she died in 2005 at the age of 106. A member of the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, Tantaquidgeon is a direct descendant of the Mohegan chief Uncas. She dedicated her life to preserving Native American culture and art.

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The Monte Cristo Cottage, the boyhood home of Eugene O'Neill, the American playwright.

Monte Cristo Cottage

325 Pequot Ave., New London, theoneill.org/mcc

The boyhood home of Pulitzer and Nobel prize winner Eugene O’Neill is a National Historic Landmark and overlooks the Thames River. The events that inspired Long Day’s Journey Into Night took place here.

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The James Merrill House in Stonington.

James Merrill House

107 Water St., Stonington, jamesmerrillhouse.org

Connecticut’s first poet laureate was the son of the co-founder of Merrill Lynch. He won the Bollingen Prize in 1973, National Book Awards in 1967 and 1979 and the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1977.

This article appeared in the November 2019 issue of Connecticut Magazine. You can subscribe here, or find the current issue on sale hereSign up for our newsletter to get the latest and greatest content from Connecticut Magazine delivered right to your inbox. Got a question or comment? Email editor@connecticutmag.com, or contact us on Facebook @connecticutmagazine or Twitter @connecticutmag.

Mike Wollschlager, editor and writer for Connecticut Magazine, was born and raised in Bristol and has lived in Farmington, Milford, Shelton and Wallingford. He was previously an assistant sports editor at the New Haven Register.