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A Man of Strong Opinions… Wilson “ Bill” Faude

By Mike McGarry

August 29, 2013

We at Hartford Publications have known Bill Faude for over 30 years, first in his capacity as the Executive Director of Hartford's - Connecticut's - Old State House, and then as a kind-of-man about town. In particular, a kind of a Hartford institution in his own right. With the World War II generation rapidly leaving us, few in the city, or the state, seem to know (or care) about the living history of our city and state. Bill does, and lives it.

Also, remembered is the fabulous renovation of the Old State House in the mid-1980's. Twelve million dollars was raised and spent restoring (and adding a subterranian addition) the facility. It was quite a sight for a few years bracing, steel, masonry, gaping holes facing Main Street - today, you wouldn't even know all that happened. It all came about because of Faude and the personal and corporate support he helped round up.

His strong, even forceful, opinion that our Old State House had a special place in America's history, occasionally drew criticism but certainly was crucial in putting it together for current uses. We particularly enjoy Diane Smith's Connecticut Television Network (CTN) discussions that range from history to current affairs, held at the Old State and televised statewide.

During a recent discussion with Faude, his current assignments (along with authoring ten books) are serving as the city of Hartford's Archivist and, concurrently, as the project historian for the Hartford History Center of the Hartford Public Library, gave a clue into his revisionist bent.

These assignments, and his lifelong study of local history, have led to some interesting opinions. For example, he thinks much of our early colonial history is lost, or has been disregarded. He is sure that before Reverend Thomas Hooker, (Hartford Founder), Europeans must have been population the area - the supplies purchased, the manpower called on, and the organization needed to fight the Pequot War doesn't fit the short time frame between the settling of Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield and the hard fought war with the strong pequot nation.

He also feels that our current city leaders are missing a historic opportunity by not using the world renowned Doyle-Dewitt collection of American political items that now sit in a warehouse. With 100 of 1000s of empty square feet downtown - look at the XL Center - one would think that one of our institutions or corporate citizens would try to make a lasting effect that such a teaching opportunity (the collection) could bring.

A sample of just how Bill presents his opinions comes in his testimony over the potential construction of a windmill in Colebrook (west of Hartford). "This is a rural landscape, relatively unchanged in over three hundred years. Its streams and rocks and trees and hills grow and rise and dip and rise again. The rivulets and brooks, with their gurgling sounds of water on rock, meander across the landscape, joining other brooks and streams. When I visited in March, the landscape was frozen but beginning to emerge. All too soon, I knew it would become chartreuse as buds and plants emerged, followed by turtles resting on sunny branches and birds and other wildlife, young fawns and cubs. There is these hills, there in this landscape, is the beautiful and all too rare powerful quiet, devoid of the intrusions and the mechanical whirls of civiliation." Obviously, he doesn't think a massive windmill fits in this part of Colebrook.

So, here we have Wilson Faude of West Hartford, Connecticut, digging into Hartford's past every working day deep in the bowels of Hartford City Hall. Bill, in your musing and searches, we hope you find those missing early settlers and set 350 years of Connecticut history right.

Reprinted with permission of the The Hartford News.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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