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Cruisin’ Connecticut – A Theater Built by Love: The Bushnell


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Today we’re Cruisin’ Connecticut to Hartford, home of The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.

It is one of the most iconic theaters in Connecticut. It was built by love – not the “romantic” kind, but rather out of respect.

So she wanted to honor him, out of the deep sense of “father-daughter” love.

Paul Marte is the Director at The Bushnell.

Dotha Bushnell Hillyer wanted to honor her father, Horace Bushnell. A well known preacher in Hartford. Sort of a well known personality of his day – after he died. And her idea was to build The Bushnell memorial. It would be a hall for performances of art. Things like symphony.

Bushnell’s daughter ended up marrying into money. So she pulled the funds from the stock market to start the construction.

But if she waited a year to do it (after the stock market crashed), the money wouldn’t have been there, and there would’ve been no Bushnell. And it translates to today, because there are so many love-related things that go on at The Bushnell. Probably a dozen weddings a year.

The interior of the theater was designed by the same people who designed Radio City Music Hall.

When you walk into the vast theater, you’ll find it is crafted in an ornate Art Deco style:

We have the sun, the moon, and the stars, which are constantly reflected in sort of everywhere you look.

The neat thing is that the theater is home to stars from all walks of show biz. From stand up shows with Jerry Seinfeld, to speaking engagements with Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton, and performances on-stage with Diana Ross, Ray Charles and Nat King Cole.

And taking it back full circle, what would Horace Bushnell really think of the theater built in his honor?

I think he would be very happy with what his daughter did. And how we’ve continued his legacy and her legacy in keeping The Bushnell going.

Personally, I think he would be a big Diana Ross fan.Click here to learn more about The Bushnell, and to see their upcoming shows. 

Know of cool people, places or events to check out for “Cruisin’ Connecticut?” Email me, or let me know on: FacebookTwitterInstagram or Snapchat: @RyanKristafer.

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