Willimantic, Connecticut: Giant Frogs on Thread Spools

Decorative frog statues of sit atop spools of "thread" on this bridge into town.
Address:
Bridge St., Willimantic, CT
Directions:
South St. off Main Street, heading south out of town on the Windham Crossing.
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Frogs and Spools

Hate to be the voice of dissent: but every time I have to pass those ugly, garish things I want to cry. I was raised in Willimantic -- graduated from Windham High School -- it's "home" and always will be. The "sculptor" and whoever hired him ought to be . . . .chastised harshly (No surprise his present media is now tin cans). Willimantic - Windham has done a really terrific job revitalizing itself against incredible odds. From what it was in the 1970s -- it's a miracle. The frog and spool motif is so incredibly right -- and it could have been done infinitely better by someone - anyone - else!

[Carol, 07/24/2010]
Leo Jensen and can sculpture. Frog on Spools - The Artist

I had an opportunity to take a trip to Willamantic to see the frogs perched atop the thread spools. What made me want to see this art is I met the man who created it. Leo Jensen is 84 and he lives in Ivoryton, CT. I met Leo because I am volunteering my time to the Hollycroft Foundation and William Bendig (its founder), who has placed sculpture done by world famous artists along a "Sculpture Mile" of the Main St of Ivoryton and Madison CT. After listening to Mr. Jensen relate what went into the creation and placement of these works of art, it led me to take the drive up to Willamantic.

Mr. Jensen has not stopped creating, he is now working in metal cans -- the ultimate recycling -- creating whimsical and beautiful art pieces. His studio is in Ivoryton.

[Frederick H. Hockla, 09/26/2009]
Frog statue on thread spool. Giant Frogs on Thread Spools

The frogs on thread spools were looking good when I drove past in 2008. There are four of them: two frogs and two spools on each side of the bridge. A great eccentric municipal art project.

[Gunnar Johnson, 08/17/2009]
Giant Frogs in Willimantic

The story behind the giant frogs on the bridge: In the mid-1700s, local Windham-ites were awakened by a horrible flood of noises, a sort of bellowing and shrieking that seemed to come directly from above. The townspeople were terrified. This was during the French and Indian War, and many of the able-bodied men were up north engaged in battles. Many of those who remained in town thought the hideous noises were the war-whoops of local Indian tribes preparing to overrun the village, raping and killing everyone in sight. Others took a more spiritual tack, convincing themselves the horrible noises were from heaven and judgement day was at hand. Townspeople ran out of their homes (in various stages of undress) alternately shooting up into the air at an unseen enemy or falling to their knees in fervent prayer.

When first morning's light arrived and the sounds had slowly died off, the townspeople noticed no one had been killed or carried off. Later a few brave men rode their horses to the outskirts of town and discovered that a local pond, which had either been drained low by drought or a nearby mill operator, had a huge accumulation of dead and dying frogs all around its perimeter. It seems the horrible noises were not caused by "local savages" or God above, but by a whole mess of frogs who had finally reached a breaking point when their elbow room was reduced to nearly nothing. For years afterwards, Windham, then the county seat, became the laughing stock of Connecticut.

By the way, during the winter holiday season, the frogs are dressed for the cold with beautiful red scarves.

[Annie, 07/30/2005]
Giant Frogs on Thread Spools

Giant statues of frogs sit atop spools of "thread" on the entrance to the town bridge, in Willamantic, CT. Attesting to the thread industry, and frog "incident" during the time of the early settlers.

[M Hatton, 09/07/2003]

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