• Vitkus Family Photographs, CHS Collection

  • Unidentified Garden, New Canaan, Connecticut, c. 1960s. Molly Adams, photographer. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection.

  • Clifford Mitchell in an Adirondack chair, 1955, CHS Collection

  • Iaccaci Garden, New Canaan, Connecticut, c. 1967. Molly Adams, photographer. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Maida Babson Adams American Garden Collection.

  • Vitkus Family Photographs, CHS Collection

Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard

Dec 18, 2018 - Feb 23, 2019

Come relax in our backyard! This winter CHS will host a traveling exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution, Patios, Pools, & the Invention of the American Backyard. Outdoor living for Americans transformed after the end of WWII. The suburban backyard was a product of postwar peace, the growing middle-class, a rise in home-ownership, the baby boom, and the do-it-yourself approach. Patios replaced porches and the backyard became an extension of the home – a place for entertaining, cooking, and relaxing. Magazines promoted the modern backyard while companies quickly developed products designed to lessen the burden of maintaining these outdoor spaces. This exhibit will highlight photographs, items, and stories that explore the development of the American backyard and will take a closer look into Connecticut’s backyard history.

Backyard Photo Submission

*Submitting a photo through this online portal does not guarantee your photograph will appear in our upcoming exhibit, and CHS will not be collecting any physical photographs or adding the submitted photographs to our collection. If chosen, a reproduction of your photo will appear in the exhibit between December 18th, 2018 and February 23, 2019. Photos must be submitted by November 1, 2018 to be considered.

Any questions please direct them to:
Melica Bloom
[email protected]

My Aunt Marion and me about 1950 in my grandfather's backyard, Granby, CT.

Submitted by Susan Barlow
Submitted by Rebecca Gross
Submitted by Rebecca Gross
Max was riding an antique tractor and pulling a wagon. This was taken in Glastonbury, CT about 1985.

Submitted by Christi Moraga
Submitted by Rebecca Gross
This is a picture of my grandfather, Anthony DiPillo, relaxing in a lawn chair in the backyard from 1950. I'm not exactly sure who's house this is, but I am assuming it is at his parent's house in West Hartford.

Submitted by Andrea Slater
This is a photo of me, my wife and our dog on the day we adopted Baxter. We used to have beautiful hosta all around the tree but now the yard belongs to Baxter.

Submitted by Jody Blankenship
This is a picture of my grandfather, Anthony DiPillo, relaxing in a lawn chair in the backyard from 1950. I'm not exactly sure who's house this is, but I am assuming it is at his parent's house in West Hartford.

Submitted by Andrea Slater
Taro was about eight years old (around 1990) when he went sledding through the woods on our property in Marlborough, CT.

Submitted by Christi Moraga
This is a picture of my great aunt, Jessie (Dipillo) Hanson, in the backyard of her parent's house in West Hartford. I'm not exactly sure of the date, but I assume it is either the late 1940s or early 1950s.

Submitted by Andrea Slater
This is a photo of my great grandfather, Salvatore DiPillo (on the right), with some other men after installing a pond and statue in his backyard. Anthony, his son, is on the left with the dog. The year is 1941.

Submitted by Andrea Slater
My three boys, Gabriel, Max and Taro, were visiting their great-grandfather, who taught them how to fry eggs and bacon outside in the backyard. They thought this was pretty wonderful. The photo was taken about 1989 or 1990.

Submitted by Christi Moraga
Me and three childhood friends sitting on a tree stump in my back yard, in the 1950s. Note the wooden Adirondack chair in the background. (We had four of those with a matching picnic table and benches.) My father had just climbed the ladder that’s resting against the tree—to rescue my cat, Ginger, being held by my friend.

Submitted by Janice Smith
This is our dog Baxter's first snowfall. We adopted him from Mississippi and he had never seen snow. After this photo was taken he rolled around in the snow for minutes.

Submitted by Jody Blankenship
When the kids go off to college, the backyard pool becomes too much too handle, and is often replaced with the next backyard obsession: The Firepit!

Submitted by Jean Henry
The "Opening of the Pool" family party! Teenagers hop right in, Mom takes awhile! Mom (Jean Henry, Newington) shrieks from the cold water as Dad (Carl Henry) snaps the picture.

Submitted by Jean Henry
This very small backyard is totally filled up with FUN! Even though we really had the tiniest backyard in the neighborhood, whose house do you think the teenagers all came to? That's right! The one with the pool!

Submitted by Jean Henry
1957 or so. Taken on Easter in my grandparents backyard - they had a small lily pad/goldfish pond that is now filled in.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
With no air conditioning, people would sit outside during the evening heat. This is my Mother - on Burke Street in the O'Connell Drive area of East Hartford, pregnant with my brother who arrived in October, 1957.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
My brothers and I with our pet rabbit during our Easter morning egg hunt in Glastonbury.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
My Dad's college roommate and his family would come visit every year - we would spend the whole weekend in the backyard.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
Cub Scouts from Hopewell Rd School in Glastonbury doing pumpkin carvings on our backyard picnic table, 1966.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
What was a summer adventure without a sleep out? My brothers put up an old surplus army tent and prepared to sleep out solo. And what's an army tent with out an American Flag. My brothers stayed up late talking - we could all hear them as the house was a stones throw away and it was HOT and all the windows were open. it might have been hotter inside the tent than the house.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
13 year old girls having a sleep over. Hamburgers and hot dogs on the BBQ. Horsing around and just enjoying the summer. 1967.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
From the same sleep over party, 1967.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
A good snow and a small hill are perfect for teaching the younger kids how to sled.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
My grandparents had a flag pole in their yard. A rite of passage was being of age to be able to take down the flag and fold it properly. Usually in your PJs.

Submitted by Wendy Upton
My mother, Susie Bell (Hampton) Newell, 1944, Southern California. My father, Norman B Newell was in the Navy. My mother was pregnant with me. They were staying with my Uncle Frank in his home either in Big Bear or Canoga Park, California. My father would visit from his Naval Base in Long Beach or Point Magu when he was in port. He was a navigator on an aircraft carrier.

Submitted by Shirley Vivion
My backyard fern garden

Submitted by Karen A. Kelleher
A photo of my grandmother, Vivian Clancy, in the backyard of her home on Congress Street in Hartford, 1940.

Submitted by Andrea Slater
Alias Van Etten and Memphis Bage enjoying our giant pool float on a sunny Summer day!

Submitted by Debbie Van Etten
We had the tiniest pool imaginable, but it was the best! Hamden, CT c. 1979

Submitted by Jennifer Busa
Playing on the jungle gym. Hamden, CT c. 1978.

Submitted by Jennifer Busa
Playing in the leaves for the first time! Lincoln & Theo in Wallingford, CT Fall 2009

Submitted by Jennifer Busa
No fear jumping into the leaf pile! Lincoln & Theo in Wallingford, CT Fall 2012

Submitted by Jennifer Busa
Gabriel looks about four or five in this picture when he pulled double mischief in the backyard in Marlborough. First he sat on blue paint and then he tried to wash it off with the sprinkler naked. Years later, he tried to submit this photo to the RHAM High School yearbook and it was rejected.

Submitted by Christi Moraga
Submitted by Denise Russell
Cheshire, Connecticut. Grounds designed by Frederick Law Olmstead

Submitted by Jean McKee
My grandparents, parents, sister, and me at Brooks Homestead, Cheshire, CT

Submitted by Jean McKee
Cheshire, CT

Submitted by Jean McKee
Enjoying a beautiful day. 1968 or 1969. Newington, CT.

Submitted by Gina Flansbury
A backyard birthday party in September 1970. (I am the newly-minted three-year-old wearing the crown.)


Submitted by Joanne Mason
Haddam Neck, Connecticut 1967. The new pool!

Submitted by Elizabeth Malloy
Submitted by Alan Vautrinot, Jr.
1/4 mile track around our yard. Good exercise and used only natural materials I.e., downed trees & wood chips.

Submitted by Peter Casarella
Me and two cousins riding bikes in backyard.

Submitted by Christine Clement
Me and my nephew in Grandma's pool, Summer, 2018


Submitted by Christine Clement
Bear in my backyard!

Submitted by Annie O'Brien
Fatima Vejzovic and her daughter Farhiya in Fatima’s garden in the backyard of her home in Hartford.

Submitted by Lynne Williamson
Baby Amelia's first time on the swing!

Submitted by Rebecca Gavin
My sister, Vivian, and I in our backyard in Farmington in 1996.

Submitted by Andrea Slater
Grandsons playing dragons in our backyard.

Submitted by Lisa Wilson Grant
We use the sunroom from March through October. The older patio is brick; the newer patio is travertine marble.

Submitted by Miriam Miller
Our backyard, West Hartford.

Submitted by Miriam Miller
Mr. Jolly taking a break in one of his “backyard projects” and looking very pleased with himself.

Submitted by Rebecca Gavin

Premier Community Partner

Supporting Community Partner

Contributing Sponsor

Zachs Family Foundation

Supporting Sponsor

Ellen M. Brown

Exhibit Consultation and Assistance

American School for the Deaf

Hartford History Center

New Canaan

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