Monday, November 26, 2007

The P. T. Barnum Institute of Science & History

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I want to share with you today the Barnum Institute of Science and History in Bridgeport Connecticut. P. T. Barnum originally contracted for and provided the funds, $100,000, and land for this building which would house the Bridgeport Scientific Society and the Fairfield County Historical Society and was completed in 1893. It originally served as a resource library and lecture hall and the Wright brothers and Thomas Edison spoke there. The building was designed to have commercial properties on the first floor which would provide income to sustain the operation but no businesses ever utilized the space. This led to financial hardship which combined with the Great Depression in the 1930s led both societies to cease operations.
The City of Bridgeport took over ownership in 1933 and opened the Barnum Museum in 1936. The city closed the building in 1943 for remodeling and reopened it in 1946 as a city hall annex with the third floor used for displaying collections from the now defunct societies. In 1965, all the city offices were removed, the building was repaired and operations were resumed in 1968 as the P. T. Barnum Museum and was run by city employees.
In 1986, the public-private Barnum Museum Foundation was formed to maintain the Museum and a $7.5 million dollar renovation took place with the Museum being reopened in 1989 with a 7,000 square foot addition. The Museum still operates today so be sure to put it on your "to do" list if you are in the area. This postcard is available in my Connecticut web page listings on my website at Moody's Postcards.

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