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The Story Behind the 'Halloween House' on North Main Street

Elaborate tableau features Civil War soldiers with a 2011 message.

The Warshauers of 115 N. Main St. put on a show every year at Halloween and even produced one last winter with a spectacular snow fort. But this year, the message is different.

Instead of witches and ghosts, the homeowners have recreated a Civil War battle scene, complete with spilling entrails and fake blood. An enormous sign shows a reproduction of a Connecticut call to arms dated from 1861. The display is both a tribute to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and a commentary on the politics of today.

"I'm a big believer in imagery for messages," said Matthew Warshauer, a professor at Central Connecticut State University and co-chair of the state Civil War Commission. "Given the level of party and political tension in the country right now, there are a tremendous number of parallels between the 1850s and today."

Within the battle scene on the lawn sits a soldier on a donkey with Barack Obama's face. Opposite him is a soldier on an elephant with a Rick Perry picture above it. Signs on the property warn that it is a "Cemetery of the Living Dead" and gravestones make statements such as "Federalist 10, R.I.P., Beware of Factions."

Warshauer said that's a reference to James Madison's 1787 warning that the worst thing that could happen to a republic is the formation of political parties.

"I see in contemporary issues history and history in contemporary issues," said Warshauer, also the author of a new book, "Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival" (Wesleyan University Press).

Warshauer said his family — which includes three daughters ages 11, 10 and 7 — has been doing a Halloween display for about 14 years.

"It started with a single witch on the tree, and then it's just kind of grown," he said.

This year, he said, he's had a lot of reaction to the elaborate scene on his front lawn.

"I push the envelope a little bit," he said. "I think, as a university professor, my role is to get people talking."

Cynthia Bentzion October 11, 2011 at 07:28 PM
The only problem in this display is the historical fact that President Lincoln was a Republican. They have the Republican elephant on the Confederate side, and the Union leader astride the Democatic donkey. Oh well! Things change.
Mitchell Rosin October 19, 2011 at 01:27 AM
For many years I have noticed and admired Prof. Warshauer's creations...Well done, sir!

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