NAUGATUCK — Mayor Robert Mezzo on Tuesday appointed a committee to help the Naugatuck Historical Society move into the Tuttle House in two years.
The committee was appointed during a meeting of the Board of Mayor and Burgesses, which informally approved the plan that brings the borough one step closer to demolishing Building 25, the dilapidated structure on Maple Street that was once the administrative headquarters of Uniroyal Chemical Co.
“It’s a building that every effort was exhausted to try to restore, but the reality is that the money wasn’t there to do it,” Mezzo said.
The historical society, which operates out of the train station on Water Street, had for years planned to restore Building 25 as a museum of the borough’s rubber industry. The society plans to move because the train station property will be among the 15 acres downtown the borough seeks development proposals for after closing on the General DataComm property this month, Mezzo said.
Mezzo will serve on the transition committee, as will Burgess Catherine Ernsky, Borough Historian Sandra Clark, Fire Chief Kenneth Hanks, school board Chairman Dave Heller, future Assistant Superintendent Christopher Montini and school board member James Scully. David Prendergast, president of the Naugatuck Economic Development Corp., will also serve on the committee, along with historical society officials Kevin Knowles, Wayne Malicki and Bridget Mariano.
The historical society had applied three years ago for a $2 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to restore Building 25, but federal officials never took action on the application despite favorable reviews, Mezzo said. The society now plans to salvage pieces of the building to construct a commemorative archway, awning or brick facade in their new headquarters, which will contain a rubber exhibit, he said.
The state also gave grant money for the building’s restoration, of which the borough spent $60,000 on the roof. The borough will ask the state to repurpose the money for downtown projects, Mezzo said. The historical society has also refunded a couple of contributions to its restoration fund, he said.
The Tuttle House was built in 1880 and its deed restricts it for public or parks use. Burgess Ronald San Angelo said he supported the historical society’s move there, but noted the building will be expensive for the borough to maintain.
“If anything makes sense for a museum, that location is the right one,” San Angelo said.