Naugatuck Historical Society savors growth of annual event

More than 250 people turned out for the eighth annual Savor CT 2019 event sponsored by Naugatuck Historical Society on Saturday night. AARON JOHNSON/REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

NAUGATUCK — The atmosphere inside the banquet room of the Naugatuck Portuguese Club was loud and inviting during the eighth annual Savor CT event on Saturday.

More than 250 people attended the Naugatuck Historical Society’s largest fundraiser, a far cry from its humble beginnings in 2011, according to Wendy Murphy, event chairwoman.

“We started with five vendors for $5 tickets and I had a hard time selling the tickets,” Murphy recalled. “Each year it’s grown, and this year we’re at seven breweries, five distilleries, four wineries and 25 food vendors.”

Proceeds from the event, which highlights only Connecticut-owned and operated businesses, will go toward Naugatuck Historical Society’s regular operations and help fund its move into the Tuttle House at 380 Church St., according to society President Chris Ritton-Stokes.

“On a normal year this would all go to maintaining the society, but this year it’s going to be supporting that move as well,” Ritton-Stokes said. “It’s super special that we have a good turnout this year.”

Built in 1880, the 7,500-square-foot brick and brownstone Queen Anne-style house was the home of businessman Bronson Tuttle, who owned Naugatuck Malleable Iron along with John Howard Whittemore.

Most recently, the house served as the Naugatuck Board of Education offices until 2015, when the board moved its offices to Naugatuck High School.

The borough has been renovating the home to use it for Naugatuck Historical Society and an office for Naugatuck Economic Development Corp.

Though there is no set date for the move into the newly-named Naugatuck History Museum at the Tuttle House, Ritton-Stokes said the plan is to move into the building around the society’s 60th anniversary in November.

After coming up with the idea and struggling to get the Savor CT event off the ground in the beginning, Murphy said seeing its growth over the years and Saturday night’s turnout shows the historical society is doing something right.

“We’re making it,” she said. “We’re getting there. We’re being noticed. We’re doing the right thing. We’re right on track having positive growth and broader appeal.”