NAUGATUCK — Officials are beginning to discuss plans for the historic Bronson B. Tuttle House on Church Street, which the Board of Education will vacate for the renovated Naugatuck High School by 2015.
Nothing has been decided yet, but the Long-Term School Facilities Planning Committee, which is working on reconfiguring schools over the next 15 years, is charged with recommending a new use for the building.
“It’s a beautiful building,” Mayor Robert Mezzo said. “It’s in a prominent location. It’s not going to sit vacant without being maintained.”
Built in 1880, the 7,500-square-foot brick and brownstone Queen Anne-style house was the home of businessman Bronson B. Tuttle, who owned Naugatuck Malleable Iron along with John Howard Whittemore.
It is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is assessed at about $709,000.
It also needs a roof replacement that could cost $800,000 if period slate is used, Mezzo said.
The roof is not in danger of collapse, but it does leak, most notably into the conference room where the school board often meets.
Officials planned to repair the roof even before high school renovation came up, but are weighing whether to do it with less expensive materials, Mezzo said. The future of the building will play a part in that decision.
“Every possible use needs to be analyzed from a logistical and cost perspective,” Mezzo said.
The Tuttle family sold the house, on nearly two acres of land, to the borough in 1935 for $1 with the stipulation that it be used for public schools or parks.
The deed also says the building will remain under exclusive control of the school board until a charter amendment gives maintenance duties to the park commission or a similar entity.
Some have proposed to turn the house into a museum, Mezzo said. That proposal is tied into the downtown redevelopment plan, which envisions a restaurant or other retail establishment where the train station and Naugatuck Historical Society museum are located. The museum in that case would need to find a new home.
The historical society has been planning to move into Building 25, the former office building for the U.S. Rubber Co. on Maple Street around the corner from Town Hall. The long-abandoned building, however, needs renovations to the tune of $2.5 million.
“Building 25 is by no means off the ground,” said Chester Cornacchia, chairman of the Naugatuck Economic Development Commission. “The Tuttle building would be a more logical fit, and what better than a historic building to house the historical society?”
Anything done with the space should promote the community and its values, Cornacchia said.
“We would want to take some measures to make sure the history and the character of the building is preserved,” Cornacchia said.