Calendar of Events

MRHS membership meetings are held in the Parish Hall of the Mystic Congregational Church, with doors opening at 7:00pm for refreshments and the program beginning at 7:30pm.  All membership meeting programs are free for MRHS members and are open to the public with a suggested donation of $5.

For more information, please contact MRHS at info@mystichistory.org or call 860-536-4779 during office hours.

2021-2022 Membership Meetings

December 1, 2021 – Dorothy Comingore: From “Citizen Kane” to Leading Lady of Lord’s Point, by Steven Slosberg

February 23, 2022 – Mystic Roots: How her local ties influenced philanthropist Mary Stillman Harkness, by Barbara Nagy

March 23, 2020 – Pirates, Whales, and Merchants: Franklin and the Sea, by Matt Novosad

April 27, 2022 – The Mystic River Bridge – Past and Present, by Jim Streeter

May 21, 2022 – Mystic’s Garden Cemetery: A Walking Tour of Elm Grove, by Marilyn Comrie

April 27, 2022 – Jim Streeter

“Mystic River Bridges – Past and Present”

One of Southeastern Connecticut’s most visible and popular landmarks is the Mystic River bascule bridge. As we rapidly approach the 100th anniversary of the building of that bridge, it would be appropriate to take a step back in time and look at some of the previous bridges and means used to cross the river.

Come join us to enjoy a presentation by Mystic River Historical Society’s Board of Directors member Jim Streeter as he provides a historical glimpse, through photographs and related information, about the various bridges used to cross the Mystic River.

Jim is the Historian for the Town of Groton and has authored and co-authored six books relating to Groton’s History. For a period of over ten years, he has written over two hundred articles relating to Groton’s history for the Groton Times Newspaper. A few years ago, Jim donated his vast collection of Groton historical documents, photographs and memorabilia to the Groton Public Library.

Jim is a retired Forensic Evidence Examination with the Connecticut State Police. He is a graduate of the University of New Haven, holding undergraduate degrees in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Human Resources.  Jim has served on both Town and City of Groton Councils and was Mayor of Town of Groton Mayor from 2009 – 2011

A native of Groton, he has been married to his lovely wife Irma for 58 years, has two children, two grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

March 23, 2022 – Matt Novosad

“Pirates, Whales, and Merchants: Franklin and the Sea”

“Pirates, Whales, and Merchants: Franklin and the Sea” will illuminate the ways that even a small, inland Connecticut town without river access is deeply connected to the world and its oceans. Located northwest of Norwich, this small town has a surprisingly large history.

Matt is an MA Student at the University of Connecticut studying the First World War. He is also President of the Franklin Historical Society, located in Franklin, Connecticut.

February 23, 2022 – Barbara Nagy

“Mystic Roots: How Her Local Ties Influenced Philanthropist Mary Stillman Harkness”  

Philanthropist Mary Stillman Harkness, wife of Standard Oil heir Edward Harkness and descendant of Mystic’s Stillman and Greenman families, was deeply influenced by her local family connections.  Join us Wednesday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Mystic Congregational Church as historian Barbara A. Nagy explores Harkness’ roots and the influence they had on her worldview and the projects she supported. Mary Harkness had deep roots in both Mystic and Waterford. Her 18th-century ancestors actually owned what today is Harkness State Park and parts of Mystic Seaport.

Nagy was a writer and manager in Connecticut College’s communications office for nine years, and has also managed marketing and fundraising for a number of local non-profits. She oversaw programming, communication and site development of the historic Hempsted Houses in New London for Connecticut Landmarks from 2013-2015 and was development manager at the Homeless Hospitality Center in New London until December 2018.

Nagy became intensely interested in Harkness while working on a number of history projects at Connecticut College. Harkness supported the founding of Conn as a women’s college in 1911, after Wesleyan decided it would admit only men, and she made a number of significant gifts to the college in the 1930s.

In 2005, Nagy wrote an article for Connecticut College Magazine about Mary Stillman Harkness, the result of extensive research over several years. This has been the most thorough treatment on the life of this little-known philanthropist yet published. Since then, new information has come to light.

Nagy serves on the boards of the Avery-Copp House, the Groton Public Library and the Groton Education Foundation.

December 1, 2021 – Steven Slosberg

“Dorothy Comingore: From “Citizen Kane” to Leading Lady of Lord’s Point”

Dorothy Comingore was a Hollywood actress who landed a starring role in one of the all-time celebrated films, “Citizen Kane,” playing Susan Alexander, the naive mistress and then brassy wife of Charles Foster Kane, played by Orson Welles. She was also a hapless opera singer. Dorothy Comingore was outspoken as well and her career, though successful through the 1940s, did not exactly flourish. However, in the early 1950s, it collapsed. She was deemed an “unfriendly witness” before the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1952 and consequently was blacklisted. She not only lost her career but also custody of her two children and what was left of her well-being. She was accused of being an alcoholic, a Communist and arrested on a prostitution charge some believe was a setup because of her political activities. During a winter storm in 1957, she and a traveling companion took shelter at a restaurant and inn in Stonington Borough. Also there that evening was John Crowe, who ran a small general store and soda fountain at Lord’s Point, a few miles up the road toward Mystic. Crowe invited the couple to his home at Lord’s Point but after a few days, suspicious of the companion’s behavior toward Dorothy, compelled the man to leave. Dorothy stayed. She would stay with John Crowe the rest of her life. She died here at age 58 in 1971.

Steven Slosberg grew up in Norwich and graduated from Norwich Free Academy.  He majored in history at Oberlin College, and began his journalism career at The Chronicle in Willimantic in 1973.  He worked for The New London Day from 1975 through 2007.  Steven currently writes weekly stories for The Westerly Sun and the Mystic River Press.