Work continues after fire at Tuttle house

Naugatuck firefighters work to ensure a fire is out at the Tuttle house on Church Street on June 7. A fire burned a hole through the north side of the roof of the historic house. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — A fire may have slowed renovations at the Tuttle house, but the work hasn’t come to halt.

The historic house, which used to house the Board of Education office, is being renovated to ultimately serve as the home of the Naugatuck Historical Society and the Naugatuck Economic Development Corporation.

A fire destroyed a portion of a cupola on the roof at the Tuttle house, 380 Church St., on June 7. The fire was accidental and caused when a worker was using a butane torch to solder a joint for a rain gutter. A spark got under the tar paper on the roof, according to fire officials.

The contractor for the project is A. Seondino & Son Inc. The roof work was subcontracted out to Beaulieu Roofing Co.

While the fire burned a hole in the roof, most of the damage inside the house was due to water.

Naugatuck Historical Society President Ken Hanks, a former fire chief in Naugatuck, said to the hardwood floor, which soaked up water while the fire was being put out, suffered the most damage.

“The plaster ceiling has some damage but it is not falling down. Then, there is the obvious fire damage,” Hanks said.

Hanks said the built-in cabinets, bookcases and drawers were all spared from damage.

“The building itself is the artifact. We are fortunate all the woodwork has been saved,” Hanks said.

A tarp covers the part of the roof that was destroyed to prevent rain from getting in, Hanks said. The building is owned by the borough and officials are waiting for the insurance settlement to come through before that portion of the roof is fixed, according to Hanks.

Work on replacing the rest of the slate roof is continuing, he said.

Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said on Monday the cost of the damages is still being assessed by The Travelers Companies, Inc., the borough’s insurance company.

“Travelers is working with the other two companies to make a claim for their responsibility for the accident,” Hess said.

The fire has delayed the re-opening of the building.

The historical society, which currently operates its museum out of a storefront at 171 Church St., had originally planned on moving into the building this month.

Now, the building won’t be ready for another six to eight months, Hanks said.

Hanks said there is no rush for the society to leave its current location. The society’s collection is still safely in storage at the former General DataComm Building, he said.

Hanks said the society will continue to plan different exhibits. At the end of the day, he added, the fire is just a minor setback.

“It’s just a bump in the road. It could have been a lot worse,” Hanks said.