Ellsworth Grant, Former West Hartford Mayor and State Historian, Dies At 95
By JULIE STAGIS
March 14, 2013
BLOOMFIELD —— Ellsworth Strong Grant – a former West Hartford mayor, historian and the brother-in-law of Katharine Hepburn – died last Wednesday, March 6, according to his son. He was 95.
Grant was born in 1917 in Wethersfield and raised in the West Hill development in West Hartford, graduating from Kingswood School in 1935.
"We're very proud of him," said his son, Jack Grant. "He lived a long, rich life, made excellent use of his time and made excellent contributions to his community."
A direct descendant of Hartford founder Thomas Hooker, Grant was dedicated to the area's history and shared its tales through several books, films and newspaper pieces, including dozens for the Courant. His books include "The City of Hartford: 1784 to 1984," which was one of three books he wrote with his first wife; "The Colt Armory;" "Yankee Dreamers and Doers" and "The Miracle of Connecticut."
Grant met Hepburn's sister, Marion, at a dance at her West Hartford home that he had not wanted to attend, he told the Courant after her death in 1986.
The two were married in 1939, the year he graduated from Harvard University, according to the 1986 story. They had three children: John "Jack" Grant of California, actress Katharine Houghton of New York and Los Angeles and Toby Grant, who died in 2010, according to his obituary.
For more than six decades, Grant spent summers in Fenwick, the borough of Old Saybrook where the Hepburns had homes and where Katharine Hepburn died.
Marion died in 1986 at 68. Grant later married Virginia Tuttle, who died in May 2012 at 94.
Grant wore many hats throughout his life.
Professionally, he was as an editor of the Hartford Newsdaily in 1939; worked for Allen Manufacturing Company in Hartford from 1940 to 1958, serving as vice president there for 13 years, and owned and operated the Connecticut Manifold Forms Company in West Hartford until 1967, according to his obituary.
Grant served on many boards of directors and founded Combined Health Appeal and Fort Saybrook Monument Park. He was a former president of the Connecticut Historical Society, a founder of Riverfront Recapture, a trustee of local museums and a member of numerous clubs.
Grant served as Mayor of West Hartford from 1969 to 1974 and remained on the council until 1977.
"Ellsworth was definitely 'Old West Hartford' … He was truly devoted to the town in his older patrician way," said Nan Glass, who served as town clerk for 16 years and was elected to the town council in the 1970s.
"I was a Democrat, he was a Republican, but we all got along really well," said Glass, who was mayor from 1995 to 1997. "It was friendlier back then."
Grant was "the last in the line of Grant's living in this area" after Matthew Grant settled in Windsor 380 years ago, Jack Grant said. At the time of his death, Grant lived at the Duncaster Retirement Community in Bloomfield.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, April 4, at 3 p.m. in the meeting room at Duncaster, 40 Loeffler Road, according to the obituary. There will be no calling hours.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at