If you think you know the answer or have a special memory related to the photo, respond in the "Leave a comment" box below this article. We'll run the answer next Monday, along with a new historical photo. The image has been provided by the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society. For more information on the museum's collection and programs, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org.
Everyone seems to have a difficult time with the images of historical people. The places are easier to identify.
This question was no exception, despite a hint on West Hartford Patch's Facebook page. Finally, on Friday morning, Rick Liftig (who probably knew the answer all along!) had this comment and anecdote about the man in the photograph – William H. Hall – the namesake of William H. Hall High School.
"I'm surprised that no one else knew that this man was WIlliam Henry Hall. My Dad often told this anecdote (which I fortunately wrote down several years ago):
"When I was in the fifth grade of East School (at the corner of Whiting Lane and Farmington Avenue), William Henry Hall would come to our class once a week to teach a civics lesson. He would explain the political workings of government, the board of education, town council and so forth. Hall was short with a goatee. I was always in the front row because of my glasses.
"One day, Miss Allen, our teacher gave us the somber announcement that Mr. Hall had died and our class was requested to attend the wake. We walked the short distance from the school to Newkirk and Whitney's funeral home. There, in an open casket, was the man who had stood in front of me weekly, looking like a caricature of himself (as corpses often do). Seeing a lifeless body for the first time, I screamed and ran out of the funeral home, tears in my eyes. Miss Allen shouted from the front door, 'Alvin Liftig, get back here this instant!'
"I yelled back, 'NO!'
"By that time, I was well on my way back to my home on Maplewood Avenue."
Rick, you are correct, and we appreciate hearing your dad's recollection. The answer provided by the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is: "William H. Hall was a teacher, principal and superintendent in town. His career spanned the spectrum from the one-room schoolhouse to the beginnings of the prized system that exists today. West Hartford High School was named for him in 1924 and was the town’s high school until Conard opened in 1957. A new Hall opened in 1970."