Imagining Nathan Hale’s New London
Graphic Novelist Creates Exhibit for School House Museum
June 19, 2012, New London, CT— The 1,200-s.f. building in which Connecticut’s Official State Hero, Nathan Hale, taught New London’s youth for 16 months will soon host a new panel exhibit, called, “Nathan Hale’s New London.”
The Connecticut Sons of the American Revolution have teamed up with graphic novelist Lora Innes, who has been writing and illustrating an online and print comic about Revolutionary War history since 2007. With assistance from historian Rachel Smith, project consultant Jennifer Eifrig of Musevue360, and staff from the New London County Historical Society, Ms. Innes is recreating the New London that Nathan Hale would have encountered in 1774-75, including people, buildings, and landmarks. Says Connecticut SAR Real Property Steward Stephen Shaw, “We’re telling the story of Nathan’s work and social life, set in a real place and time. It’s the very best kind of public history – rooted in research, and made fun and accessible for modern audiences.” Adds museum consultant Jennifer Eifrig, “This is the first example I know of, in Connecticut at least, where a museum is using the graphic novel medium on the wall. We’ve got all the elements of a great narrative, including a likeable hero, fascinating supporting characters, action, conflict, even a bit of romance, all against the backdrop of the looming Revolution that will change everything. And what’s so great is that every bit of the story is real history.”
The project team spent 2012 researching, fact-checking, and sketching. “Our grand opening is just the beginning,” says Rachel Smith. “We’ve uncovered a lot of new information about Nathan Hale’s New London, that will change the way we think about this city.”
Grand Opening June 30, 2012
Visitors are invited to view “Nathan Hale’s New London” at the School House, 19 Atlantic St., New London beginning June 30. Starting at 2:00, the opening will feature guest speakers and members of the Connecticut SAR Color Guard in costume. Admission is free.
Drawing the American Revolution
Graphic novelist Lora Innes graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 2002. After working in commercial illustration, she began writing and drawing The Dreamer, about a young woman’s adventures in 1776 (www.thedreamercomic.com). Ms. Innes’ cast of characters includes Nathan Hale, who in 1776 was a captain in Knowlton’s Rangers. “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to work with Connecticut SAR to tell more of Nathan’s story,” she says. “This is just the kind of project that I like.”
A New London Landmark Since 1776
Built in 1773, the Union School House, as it was known then, welcomed its first permanent schoolmaster in March of 1774. Nineteen-year-old Nathan Hale was popular with his students and the residents of his adopted city, and when he joined the army in July 1775 he left many concerned friends behind. After the news arrived that he was hanged by the British on Sept. 22, 1776, the people of New London regarded the school house at which he had taught as a local monument to his memory. After being converted to a private residence in the 1830s, and a major fire in 1853, the School House purchased by the Connecticut Sons of the American Revolution in 1900 and opened as one of Connecticut’s earliest historic building museums. It was moved for the sixth time in its history in January 2009, and now sits safely on its brand new foundation on the corner of New London’s redesigned public square, “The Parade.”
About the Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution
The Connecticut Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is dedicated to remembering the lives and sacrifices of the patriots of the American Revolution. Its 600 members from throughout the United States have traced their ancestry to Connecticut patriots who gave service for American Independence. Its members in Connecticut regularly participate in Revolutionary War events and ceremonies, sponsor and conduct research, and preserve and operate three Connecticut museums—The War Office in Lebanon and the two Nathan Hale Schoolhouses, one in East Haddam, the other in New London. For more information, visit www.ConnecticutSAR.org.
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