A Moment in Time

2008_67_2

Fort Trumbull, New London. Pencil drawing by Reynolds Beal, July 4, 1887. The Connecticut Historical Society, 2008.67.2.

It’s the Fourth of July. An American flag is flying from Fort Trumbull, and a stately procession of tall ships is leaving New London harbor. The monument commemorating the Revolutionary War Battle of Groton Heights is visible in the background. It could almost be a snapshot taken during OpSail, but this drawing was made by an artist more than one hundred years ago, and the ships are contemporary working vessels, not museum relics. The artist, Reynolds Beal, was part of an artists’ colony at Noank, Connecticut, where he spent his summers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Some summers he chartered a sailboat, cruising up and down Long Island Sound, making sketches along the waterfront. A sketchbook from 1899, which he spent on the yawl Starfire, and a few other drawings of Connecticut coastal scenes are in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society. Beal made his drawing of Fort Trumbull on July 4, 1887. That was just one year after my grandmother was born, and one year before my grandfather’s family immigrated from Ireland. Yet the view doesn’t look much different than it does today.

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