Waterbury’s Municipal Historian

Biography

Phil Benevento was born in Waterbury, CT.  He attended local schools and matriculated at Russell Grammar School and graduated from Kingsbury Grammar School and Crosby High School. At college, he majored in English and minored in history and education. He has a B. A. and M. A. from the University of Connecticut (UConn) and C. A. S. in literature from Wesleyan University and a certification in administration and supervision from Southern Connecticut State University.

Phil taught English for 34 years at his Alma Mater, Crosby High School, and retired as English Department Chairperson. He also taught courses at Mattatuck Community College and put in a semester at St. Margaret’s-McTernan’s (now Chase Collegiate). He also taught a film and literature course at the summer institute for teachers at the Taft School in Watertown.

Activities

Phil served as a member of the Waterbury Hall of Fame and was a member of the Silas Bronson Library Board of Agents from 1989 to June, 2013 and served as president of the board for  8 years. He has been historian for the City of Waterbury since July, 2004 and participated as a member of the Big Read Committee of Waterbury sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). He is a member of the Oscher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UConn Waterbury and served  4 years on the OLLI Council. He has also taught several literature courses for OLLI. Phil is presently a member of the Connecticut Community Foundation Pathways Committee and serves on the board of Riverside Cemetery.

Role as Historian

Phil developed a slide show on the history of Waterbury which he has shown more than 100 times to different civic groups, neighborhood groups, charitable and fraternal associations. He has led walks of downtown Waterbury discussing its history and architecture. He has written articles for the Republican-American newspaper in Waterbury. These articles were often written to mirror an event of the moment with a similar event from Waterbury’s past. For example, when the beautiful Cass Gilbert City Hall building was deliberately flooded, Phil wrote an article on the fire set, in 1912, of our first city hall by arsonist, Bernard Murray.   Phil has given frequent talks at the Mattatuck Museum on subjects as varied as a history of municipal record keeping in Waterbury, a history of the Waterbury Irish and the life and poetry of Emily Dickinson. He has also given several educational tours of Waterbury's Riverside Cemetery which is listed on the National Record of Historic Places.


City Hall designed by Cass Gilbert stands on Grand Street and was dedicated in 1915.


The old City Hall built on West Main Street in 1865 & burned down by Bernard Murray in 1912.


A view of West Main St. on the south side of the Waterbury Green around 1900 (old City Hall can be seen).


Crosby High School when it opened at the corner of Maple Street and East Main Street in 1896. It was originally called Waterbury High School and was renamed in 1897 when Superintendent of Schools Minot Sherman Crosby passed away. It stood where the Waterbury Police Department now stands.

Phil may be contacted by email at
 philbenjr@aol.com or  phone at  203-233-1775.

Contact Information

City Historian
Philip V. Benevento, Jr.
Phone: 203 233 1775