History

Time to Bring Back the Cannon to the Old State House?

Im intrigued by the state’s new campaign, “Still Revolutionary,”    and it reminded me of a throwback to the 1700s that used to be a big part of modern Connecticut life.    It was nearly 11 years ago that tradition came to an end, and perhaps now is the time to bring it back.

 Twice a day, a crew dressed in colonial gear, would fire a Revolutionary War cannon in front of the Old State House in Hartford.  

I remember when I first moved to Connecticut from Michigan and I was walking across State House Square when I saw this for the first time.  It was very cool and whenever I had visitors I would take them there to witness something you couldn’t see just anywhere.  After all, Connecticut is one of the original thirteen colonies.

Don’t quote me on this, but as I recall the cannon was fired in the morning, and then again around 4PM.   We could hear the reverberations from the blast a block away inside Broadcast House.

Then 9/11 came, and a few weeks later a transformer exploded at the Hartford Civic Center, alarming thousands of people, whose nerves were already raw from the events at the World Trade Center.   A decision was made to cease all firing of the cannon in the name of security.      

The cannon has been fired at least once or twice since then for special occasions, but the daily tourist attraction has been closed for the better part of this century.     With Governor Malloy’s new emphasis on tourism and the new slogan, perhaps it is time to resurrect this great re-enactment of our local history.   What do you think?  

While we are at it, it would also be nice to to resurrect at least one cobblestone street in downtown Hartford.   Just about every Revolutionary War era city has one including Boston,  Newport, Portsmouth, New York…you get the picture.    

We are still waiting for the Old State House to open on Sundays like its neighboring tourist attractions the Wadsworth Atheneum and Connecticut Science Center.   The Old State House in Boston is open Sundays.

 

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7 replies »

  1. I’ve never seen the cannon fired. I say bring it back. It’s easy to see why sensitivities lead to ceasing the tradition. However, 10 years later, there’s no reason to continue the hiatus on that basis. There is, unfortunately, the question of funding and fiscal health to consider. Not that the firing makes a significant impact on any governmental budget, but the political wrangling might be fierce at this point.

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  2. If it doesn’t lead to complaints, I say do it. It’s probably relatively cheap. Hartford needs more things happening. The community is there, the restaurants are there, there just needs to more to get people going “hey that’s cool”. Simple but effective.

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  3. I had an office on the third floor at State House Square back in the late 1980s and early 1990s when they fired the cannon regularly. It was close enough that I could hear not only the cannon but could make out a few words in the brief ceremony that preceded the firing. Then BOOM!! If I was talking on the phone, it was clearly audible to the person I was talking with, and I enjoyed explaining it to different people from around the country who heard it on the line. It also brought a touch of levity to otherwise serious meetings, and was, for me, a reminder to “lighten up” as much as it was a reminder of Hartford’s rich history.

    Perhaps Hartford needs to “lighten up” a bit by “lighting up” that cannon fuse again once in a while.

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  5. Dennis,
    I loved the cannon – although it did bring a few weak knees to visitors to my office. If there is funding to bring it back, I would be all for it – particularly given the new slogan.

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