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Jan 8, 2022

Is there a sucker born every minute? I don’t have the answer to that but it is attributed to one of Connecticut’s most famous residents, circus showman P. T. Barnum. Did he really say it-no one knows for sure but we do know that he made and lost several fortunes, helped to create the American circus, exhibited a phony mermaid cobbled together from a monkey and a fish and that he loved Bridgeport!


Mary Donohue, Asst. Publisher of Connecticut Explored, the magazine of Connecticut history, finds out more about the Barnum’s over the top life and his lasting mark on Bridgeport, Connecticut with her guest Bruce Hawley, author of “P. T. Barnum Builds a City” in the Winter 2021 issue of Connecticut Explored. Mr. Hawley is a board member the Barnum Museum Foundation, the Circus Historical Society, and the Circus Fans Association of America.  He is a distant cousin of P.T. Barnum. 


The Barnum Museum, originally called The Barnum Institute of Science and History, was just designated a National Historic Landmark by the US Dept of the Interior. Plan your visit at


Here’s more about Barnum in these Connecticut Explored stories and Grating the Nutmeg episodes-enjoy!


This episode of Grating the Nutmeg was produced by Mary Donohue and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan. Donohue has documented the built environment and pop culture for over 30 years. Contact her at

This episode of Grating the Nutmeg received support from the State Historic Preservation Office of the Dept of Economic and Community Development with funds from the Community Investment Act of the State of Connecticut.

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