Owlet Alumni
Online News for HPHS Alumni
Hartford, Connecticut * June 2006
Hall of Fame to Induct 18
Cliff Thornton ('63) Green Party Candidate for Governor

Eighteen outstanding athletes will be inducted into the Hartford Public High School Athletic Hall of Fame this fall, including Barnaby Keeney (’32), a runner who went on to become president of Brown University, and Ronald Copes (’59), a football lineman who has been involved locally in good works since he retired from the U. S. Army in 1990.

The Hall recognizes athletes who distinguished themselves at Hartford High and afterwards. This is the sixth induction to the Hall.

The latest inductees were household names in their day and starred in basketball (Jim Benedict, ’60; Bill Jones, ’63), baseball (Seb Santiglia, ’50; Pete Zabroski, ‘74 ), football (Gary Chesky, ’59; Brian Smith, ‘61), swimming (Paul Girdes, ‘45), track and field (Ken Gagne, ’40; Mel Braswell, ’65; Willie Green, ’65), soccer (John Inho, ’78), and multiple sports (Bill McKone, ’39; John DeRagon, ’49;Tom Rodden, ’62; Marcilyn Patterson, ’87). Former HPHS wrestling coach Bob Stroh will also be inducted this year.

The induction ceremony will commence at 4:00 PM, November 5, 2006, at the Farmington Marriott.

Tickets are $40. Sponsors are invited to advertise in the souvenir program printed for the occasion. Tom Monahan will be master of ceremonies.

The Hall of Fame also holds an annual golf tournament at Goodwin Park to help defray costs. The 2006 tournament is scheduled for October 7. Tournament teams contribute $100 per player, and local businesses contribute as sponsors.

Physically, the Hall of Fame consists of a collection of engraved plaques, one for each inductee, bearing an image of the athlete and a summary of his or her accomplishments. The plaques are currently in storage while the school building undergoes a complete renovation. Construction is proceeding in phases, and the area that will house the Hall of Fame, outside the entrance to the new field house, is nearing completion.

Clifford Thornton is the Green Party candidate for governor. Cliff graduated from Hartford High in 1963 and retired from Southern New England Telephone Company several years ago to dedicate himself to public service.

He is the founder of Efficacy, a non-profit organization that advocates peaceful ways to respond to social problems. Founded in 1996, Efficacy currently concentrates it efforts on drug abuse and crime prevention, encouraging citizens to re-examine state and national drug policy. Cliff is a prominent challenger to the mentality of the "drug war" and has introduced audiences all over the world to the truth about present policies and the damage they inflict on our society.

Locally, Cliff is very active in community projects, including the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz, the Greater Hartford African American Alliance, and Jazz Radio New England. He taught a graduate level course entitled “Illegal Drugs and Public Policy” at Trinity College and helped shape the Unitarian Universalist statement of conscience on drug policy reform, passed in the summer of 2002 at the General Assembly in Quebec, Canada.

Besides an end to the war on drugs, Cliff advocates single-payer health care sponsored by the state, a living wage mandated by state law, and electoral reform that puts the public interest back into the political process.

Cliff played varsity basketball at HPHS, and was a key player in the team's New England Championship victory in 1962. Undaunted by his status as a third-party underdog, Cliff says Hartford High athletics taught him a thing or two about winning against the odds. Visit the candidate's website--votethornton.com-- for more on his campaign and the changes he proposes for Connecticut.

Owlet Alumni
Special Issue June 2006
Published in Hartford, Connecticut
Steve Fournier ’63
Tel. (860) 233-3044
74 Tremont Street
Hartford 06105

Last Issue

The school at that time was one of the leading public high schools in the nation and both men, Keller and Entress, made sure that their children would graduate from the Hartford Public High School

Both the 1883 Owl and the statue of “Youth Bearing His Shield” as well as the architectural fragments from the old portico were incorporated into the design plan for the renovated HPHS which is now slated for completion in 2007.

The 1883 Brownstone Owl at HPHS

by Luke Williams

This remarkable piece of sculpture is the work of Albert Entress (1846-1926), a Swiss sculptor who came to Hartford in the late 19th Century. Some examples of his work are found on the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park, on the parish house of the Church of the Good Shepherd, and in the Mary Borden Munsell House at Wethersfield Avenue and Wyllys Street.

Architect George Keller’s greatest work, the Hopkins Street main building of the Hartford Public High School, was embellished with the delicate touches of Entress’s work, both on the exterior and within the great building itself. Besides the owl, there were carved finials, ball flowers, capitals of columns and plaster ornaments, especially after 1897.

The owl, finished in 1883 and placed over the main door facing east, became the symbol of HPHS over the years. Students referred to it in essays, school newspaper and classbook articles; its image, in varying poses and styles, was placed on pins, ribbons, bookmarks, keychains, and other school memorabilia.

George Keller had a special fondness for the owl as a symbol of learning and he incorporated it into the design of other buildings besides HPHS. Keller’s Public Library in Norfolk, Connecticut, has a gargoyle in the shape of an owl at the corner of the porch. In a 1911 addition to the library, a carved owl statue was placed at the center of the overmantel of the fireplace. This owl is very similar to our 1883 Owl and it is probably the work of Albert Entress. The library in Ansonia, Connecticut, also designed by Keller, has two bosses in owl head shapes on the consoles of the arches over the stairway.

Tracing its history back to 1638, HPHS began as a classical school and thus the owl, mascot of Athena, Hellenic Goddess of Wisdom, was appropriate. The school is indebted to Keller and Entress for the gift of such a fine piece of art to represent the school. This is most likely how the owl became the school mascot.

Our owl is a rarity. Nationally, there are very few animal sculptures in brownstone and ours, although weatherworn, is one of the finest.

When the 1883 building was expanded by Keller in 1897, the owl and portico were moved to the north side of the Hopkins Street building facing Farmington Avenue. It became the favorite entrance for the students, and there it remained peacefully for 66 years until the entire educational complex was demolished to make way for the Yankee Expressway, now I-84.

Against the recommendations made to Principal T.J.Quirk by the teacher committee on renovations in 1961, workers for the City of Hartford took sledge hammers and destroyed the beautiful portico with its columns, oak leaf carvings and carved animal bas-reliefs. The teacher committee wanted the entire portico and owl to be rebuilt in the Great Court of the new building on Forest Street. However, only the owl was spared the attack of the sledge hammers and it was moved to a perch on the façade of the new school which opened in 1963. Badly damaged architectural fragments from this portico as well as the famous dinosaur footprint fossils were stored in a large maintenance shed behind the school on Forest St. for about thirty-five years. Thousands of students never saw them.

It is interesting to note that Albert Entress’s daughter, Katherine E. Locke, had expressed an interest in obtaining the owl in 1957 when demolition of the school was in the near future. In a letter dated October 3, 1957, School Superintendent Robert H. Black replied to Mrs. Locke that the Board of Education had decided to incorporate the owl and a memorabilia room into the design of the new school. Entress’s granddaughter, Carolyn Locke de Kanter, visited the school in 2000 and expressed her concern for the future of the architectural fragments. She was assured that they would be used in the renovated HPHS in 2006.

The statue of “Youth Bearing His Shield,” another Entress symbolic sculpture, was restored and placed in a metal cage in the auditorium lobby of the new building. It had originally graced the façade of the 1897 building from a niche over the main entrance. Apparently, Entress modeled it after Donatello’s St. George. The young man is holding a shield carved with an owl in relief and the letters “HPHS” inscribed at the top. The shield is symbolic of the education at HPHS which he believed would guide and encourage the students as they graduate and go out into the world.