Wilson Faude, former executive director of the Old State House, dies

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The man who lead the effort to save the Old State House from demolition in the 1970s has died.

Wilson “Bill” Faude died Monday. He was 71.

Faude was equal parts showman and historian. He created programs that brought people to the the Old State House and spearheaded its renovation in the 1980s. Faude was executive director from 1978 to 1982 and 1985 to 2001.

He gained national fame when he instituted a “window tax” levied against the office buildings that face the historic building.

His obituary lists some of the events he produced:

“Daily cannon firings, costumed interpreters, a window tax, historic reenactments; concerts, happenings and exhibits ranging from Latino art to Norman Rockwell, Connecticut crafts, the Boston Athenaeum, Zimbabwe, New Yorker Cartoons and Hartford Street Gangs. He restored Steward’s Museum complete with a two-headed calf and a two-headed pig.”

His efforts were rewarded by making the Old State House a place for presidents and candidates to visit.

Secretary of State Denise Merrill said in a statement, “Bill did so much to preserve the state’s history, whether it was restoring monuments like the Mark Twain House or guiding Hartford’s arts institutions. Every citizen of the state owes him a debt of gratitude for the region’s wealth of cultural resources. In particular, Bill helped save the Old State House from demolition and fought like hell to make sure the grounds would not be paved over for bus lanes. The magnificent Old State House stands in honor of the legacy he left us. He will be missed.”

Faude was also one of the creators of the city’s July 4th celebration, Riverfest.

He is survived by his wife Janet Bailey Faude and their two children Sarah and Paul, and his sister Ann.