Trumbull Coolidge Wedding
The Sept. 23, 1929, marriage in Plainville of Florence Trumbull, the daughter of then-Gov. John H. Trumbull and John Coolidge, son of former President Calvin Coolidge, was easily the biggest local event in the past 100 years, according to Town Historian Ruth S. Hummel. Hummel, who also served until May as president of the Plainville Historical Society, has written several articles about the TrumbullCoolidge wedding, which united the families of the Connecticut chief executive and the 30th U.S. president.
Hummel said the wedding, which took place at the Plainville Congregational Church on West Main Street, was accompanied with the hoopla that befitted such a ceremony. A large file with articles, photos, a copy of the marriage license, newspaper and magazine clippings and other information is in several folders in one of the file cabinets at the Plainville Historic Center.
Hundreds of guests attended the wedding at the church and thousands of area residents were in Plainville to catch a glimpse of the bride and groom and their famous families.
The historian had the chance to interview John and Florence Trumbull Coolidge in 1988, in time for their 60th wedding anniversary when they lived in Farmington. Both are now deceased.
She said that at the time the Coolidges were impressed with the local and area interest in the wedding and the amount of people who showed up to get a glimpse of the wedding party. Hummel said the governor’s daughter had met the president’s son while traveling by train to an event in Washington, D.C. Florence Trumbull Coolidge later donated her wedding dress and accessories to the historical society, which has preserved the dress that is stored in an acid-free box and is in the organization’s vault. The dress has been periodically put on display at the historic center. Also part of the memorabilia is a carefully preserved piece of the wedding cake that was given to a young girl who later gave it to the historical society. The cake is wrapped in tin foil and stored in a small cardboard jewelry box.
The piece of cake literally is icing for a secondary part of this story, which began several weeks ago from an e-mail received at The Plainville Citizen from Scott Pilato, of Florida, who was looking to find a photograph of the wedding cake, which was baked by his grandfather, Giovanni “John” Canina, who during the 1920s was a pastry chef at several top restaurants in New York City. At the time, Canina had won several awards for his pastry.
Pilato said his mother, Rena Canina Pilato, cherished a photo of the wedding cake for many years, but it was subsequently lost. She currently lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. and Scott Pilato wanted to obtain a copy of the photo in time for her 80th birthday.
Pilato said the family liked the photo and the story because it underscored how an immigrant to the United States can become a success through hard work and ultimately became his crowning achievement.
Pilato had heard stories about the Trumbull-Coolidge wedding in Plainville and decided to contact the local newspaper. He also said he contacted the White House and the Calvin Coolidge Library Museum in Vermont. He said The Plainville Citizen was the first to get back to him.
Hummel looked through the files at the historic center, but was not able to find the photo of the wedding cake. However, there copies of photos from the 1929 wedding day, including one of the bride and groom with attendants and another of President Coolidge and his wife. However, Hummel said she is not sure that photo was taken in Plainville.
Of the wedding dress made of white heavy satin, Hummel said the bride’s family purchased it in New York City. In addition, 1,100 mums were transported by refrigerated rail car from California to Plainville and the flowers were used to decorate the wedding.
John H. Trumbull, who was known as “the flying governor” because he was a pilot and because of his pioneering use of aircraft, was the state’s chief executive from 1925 to 1931. The family lived in a large Georgian-style mansion on Farmington Avenue, near where the Route 72 Expressway crosses Route 10.
Calvin Coolidge, who was from Vermont, served as the 30th U.S. president from 1923 until 1929. Coolidge succeeded President Warren G. Harding in office after Harding’s untimely death.