The Maurice C. La Grua Center opened its doors in 2008 in Stonington Borough and has evolved into a nonprofit cultural center offering a wide variety of concerts, lectures, and art exhibitions in an intimate, acoustically distinctive space flooded with natural light and vaulted ceilings. La Grua Center is also a beautiful venue for classes, meetings, celebrations, and other community activities.
On Christmas Eve of 1914, Maurice La Grua—known to many as Maurie—was born to Italian immigrant merchants in Stonington. Well into his twenties, he volunteered for the war effort and was among the first soldiers to storm the beach at Normandy, though he did not know how to swim. Two Purple Hearts later, he managed to participate in the march to free Paris from German occupation. On his return to Stonington, he met Winifred Glover, also of Stonington, who since her graduation from Connecticut College, was working at the Atwood Machine Company as an executive assistant to the company’s vice president. Maurie subsequently became a photographer and spent his days putting generations of Stonington’s graduates, newlyweds, and families in their best light. Winifred, meanwhile, staffed La Grua’s gift shop on Water Street. There are probably no two more recognized names from the 20th century in Stonington than Maurie and Winifred La Grua.
Shortly after Maurie’s death in 2005, Winifred La Grua quietly approached community leaders with an offer to fund the purchase and renovation of the old foundry building that was a part of the Atwood Machine Company. The Maurice C. La Grua Center was formed in 2007 to steward Winifred’s generous gift in memory of her late husband. Through the work of a nine-member board of directors, the building was purchased, a design agreed upon, and construction completed in September 2008.
With Winifred’s passing in 2012, the baton of leadership was placed in the hands of those who recognize La Grua Center’s invaluable contribution to the culture of the region. Winifred’s lasting legacy—the gift of the building to the general public, and her crucial financial support during the center’s early years—sprang from her lifelong commitment to the community in which she lived.