September 15 was a big day for the Phelps-Hatheway House. The weather was lovely, perfect for an outdoor event to honor the memory and celebrate the generosity of Astrid Hanzalek. After a reception, complete with refreshments, on the lawn to the north of the house, the guests assembled in the barn to hear about the bronze plaque being prepared in appreciation for all Astrid has done for the Phelps-Hatheway House, for Connecticut Landmarks, and for historic preservation in general. An illustrated dedication panel commemorating her support was available for viewing. The final locations in the barn for both had not yet been determined.
Among the speakers were Aaron Marcavitch, Director of Connecticut Landmarks; Deborah Ullman, chairman of the organization’s Board of Trustees; and Con O’Leary, a trustee of the organization who knew Astrid well and who delivered the major address.
Astrid Hanzalek was a long-time resident of Suffield, a woman who was in many ways ahead of her time. She was born in New York of German parentage; in 1956 she and her husband Fred moved to Suffield. She was active in a multitude of civic organizations–too many to list–on the local, the state, and even the national level. She served as a member of the Connecticut House of Representatives from 1971 to 1981. Astrid had a strong interest in all things historical and was an avid member of Connecticut Landmarks for many years. Community involvement was a duty as well as a pleasure to her, and her obituary reflects the extraordinary energy and commitment that she sustained throughout her long life.
The Phelps-Hatheway House, which graces our Main Street just south of the town center, is not only a tourist attraction, but is also the home of many programs and events. Astrid’s involvement with the House and her generosity toward Connecticut Landmarks are legendary and will underpin many an effort not only at the Phelps-Hatheway House, but also at all the other sites under the same umbrella. Hers is an example of a life well lived in the service of others. The bronze plaque in her honor tells her story, along with the dedication panel commemorating her support, both of which will be on display in the barn, where most events take place–two well deserved tributes to one of our own.