William Mortensen was born in Hartford in 1903, the son of Danish immigrants. He attended Antioch College in Ohio and took classes at the Hartford College of Law. For 40 years Mortensen managed the Bushnell Memorial Hall. Upon his retirement, well-wishers included Carol Channing, with whom he had posed for a photograph when the actress performed at the Bushnell. Additionally, Mortensen served as Mayor of Hartford (Republican), a State Senator, and as a member of several other boards and committees. Mortensen earned honorary degrees from Trinity College and the University of Hartford.
Among the many types of papers found within this collection, which is finally being cataloged thanks to our NHPRC-funded grant, are life records, audio recordings, photographs, diplomas and awards, deeds, wills, financial records, diaries, and correspondence from family, friends, and co-workers. The correspondence particularly demonstrates Mortensen’s longtime association with the Seaverns family. The Bushnell Memorial was the brainchild of Mary Bushnell (Hillyer) Seaverns and her mother, Dotha (Bushnell) Hillyer. Mrs. Seaverns’ husband, Charles Frederick Taft Seaverns was President of the Bushnell and worked with Mortensen for many years. Mortensen also maintained friendships with the Seaverns’ son Appleton and grandson Charles.
Mortensen and his first wife, Alice, began the William and Alice Mortensen Foundation. The Mortensen’s gave generously to local non-profit organizations, including the University of Hartford and Hartford Public Library. Mortensen died at his Old Saybrook home in 1990 at age 87. He was survived by his second wife, Trice.
William H. Mortensen Papers and Records, 1922-1990. Ms 98235