Historical interests; a Darwin Day look at science

Bill Whitbeck took this photo in 1977. He will be chatting about oystering online March 4. (Bill Whitbeck)

NORWALK, Conn. — Some Norwalk announcements:

  • Darwin Day celebrated online Friday
  • Dillards seek White Barn Theater memorabilia
  • Oystering book author to speak online


Darwin Day: ‘Making sense of the natural world through art’

The cover of James Prosek’s book.

A free Zoom Darwin Day celebration featuring internationally acclaimed artist/author/naturalist/conservationist James Prosek is planned for 7-9 p.m. Friday Feb. 19, according to a press release.  Melding natural science with art, Prosek’s work has been shown worldwide, notably at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, and at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C.  His latest book is Art, Artifact, Artifice (Yale University Press; 2020).  Commemorating Charles Darwin’s birthday which falls on Feb. 12, Prosek’s presentation will address “Making Sense of the Natural World through Art.”

Register here.

The event is sponsored by Connecticut Coalition of Reason.  Co-sponsors are The Bartlett Arboretum and Gardens, Bruce Museum, Earthplace, The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, UConn Department of Marine Sciences, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, American Humanist Association, Congregation of Humanistic Judaism, CT Coalition of Reason, Hartford Area Humanists, Humanist Association of CT, Humanists and Freethinkers of Fairfield County, Unitarian Church in Westport, Unitarian Society of New Haven Dept. of Adult Religious Education, Wilton Quaker Meeting.

Norwalkers seek White Barn Theater artifacts

Nathan Dillard shows off a White Barn Theater sign. (Courtesy photo)

White Barn Theater artifacts and memorabilia are sought by Norwalk preservationists Nathan and Gloria Dillard, who have acquired the demolished theater’s original sign.  The sign, according to Mr. Dillard, is one of only three that ever existed.

Situated upon the Newtown Avenue estate of theater doyen Lucille Lortel (1900-1999), the 148-seat playhouse was a renowned launching pad for experimental productions.  Lortel, who also operated a theater in Greenwich Village bearing her name, donated various items to the Westport Library.  The Dillards are looking to purchase:

  • Original negatives/pictures of the White Barn Theater, with the sign showing
  • Original autographed photos of Lucille Lortel
  • Original photos of Lortel receiving an Emmy award in 1988
  • Original photos of Lortel’s 1990 American Theater Hall of Fame induction and her receipt of the Actors’ Fund Medal
  • Original photos of celebrities when attending White Barn productions: Peter Falk, Marilyn Monroe, Geoffrey Holder, Kevin Spacey, and Rod Serling


The late Lucille Lortel. (Courtesy photo)

The Dillards’ renovation of Norwalk’s historical Commerce Street buildings was featured in a recent episode of the History Channel’s “American Pickers.”  Mr. Dillard is at [email protected]>

Free talk with oyster aficionado

Oystering in Norwalk Connecticut, a new book containing over 100 photographs taken in Norwalk during the 1970s and early 1980s, will be presented in a free Zoom talk by its author, photographer Bill Whitbeck at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, according to a press release from event host Norwalk Historical Society.

An East Norwalk native who operated a photography studio in SoNo’s Radel Oyster House, Whitbeck captured the various aspects of oyster and clam harvesting in the waters surrounding the Norwalk Islands.  Moving to the Seattle area in 1977, he maintained his shellfish penchant, co-authoring of The Joy Of Oysters- A Cookbook and Guidebook for Shucking, Slurping, and Savoring Nature’s Most Perfect Food (pub. 2001), and overseeing shellfish distribution to 200 Seattle area restaurants as Sales Manager for Taylor Shellfish Farms’.

A Q & A will follow the talk.

Oystering in Norwalk Connecticut can be purchased from blurb.com.

There’s no charge to attend the talk, but registration is required at www.norwalkhistoricalsociety.org.  The Zoom link will be emailed to registrants upon confirmation, then again 24 hours prior to the talk, and once again one hour prior to start time.

The Norwalk Historical Society welcomes donations to help continue its community programming, at  https://norwalkhistoricalsociety.org/join-donate/.

(Bill Whitbeck)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>