Jun 30, 2022
In the Summer 2022 issue of Connecticut Explored, author and historian Steve Thornton of the Shoeleather History Project brings us the story of the internationally-renown activist, actor, and singer Paul Robeson and his wife Eslanda, an anthropologist, author and activist in her own right. The Robeson’s home from 1941 to 1953 in Enfield, Connecticut is on the Connecticut Freedom Trail as well as the National Register of Historic Places.
The Hartford Courant reported on April 1, of 1941 that,
“The stucco house is situated on two and a half acres of land. The property includes a recreational building which houses a bowling alley and an outdoor swimming pool… A purchase price of about $10,000 was indicated by the attached revenue stamp.”
The next day the Courant reported,
“Paul Robeson will move into his new home here, “The Beeches” on May 1… The luxurious house is in a state of disrepair but Mrs. Robeson has arranged with local workers to renovate the house and grounds…Built in 1903, the living room is richly paneled with a marble mantle… The grounds are shaded by many old trees, including several beeches on the broad lawns in front of the house.”
What attracted the Robeson’s to Enfield? Why did the FBI keep them under surveillance in Connecticut? And how did a Robeson concert at Hartford’s Weaver High School in 1952 become a huge local controversy?
Let’s hear from Steve Thornton about the Robesons activism and life while living in Connecticut.
Read more in the Summer 2022 issue of Connecticut Explored “The Robesons Move to Enfield” by Steve Thornton. Get your copy at ctexplored.org And to learn more about Hartford history from the grassroots, visit The Shoeleather History Project at shoeleatherhistoryproject.com
To learn more about a Connecticut citizen was arrested and tried for being a Communist, listen to his first-hand account from Alfred Marder in Episode 7 of Grating the Nutmeg at https://gratingthenutmeg.libsyn.com/gtn7e-extended-version-a-communists-arrest-in-1950s-new-haven
And read more at https://www.ctexplored.org/al-marder-a-life-of-conviction/
This episode was produced by Mary Donohue, Assistant Publisher of Connecticut Explored, and engineered by Patrick O’Sullivan of High Wattage Media, highwattagemedia.com
Song: Shenandoah, Paul Robeson
(Copland, A.: Fanfare for the Common Man / Tilzer, A. Von: Take)
Donohue may be reached at email@example.com
Please join us again for the next episode of Grating the Nutmeg!