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Shelton History Center Seeks Help Fixing Damaged Collections

Artifacts were transferred to the Trap Fall Schoolhouse, which stayed dry. Photo Credit: Facebook
Items drying out in the sun following storm damage at the Shelton History Center. Photo Credit: Facebook
Fire departments responded to assist with water removal. Photo Credit: Facebook
Water pouring in from the roof shorted out the fire alarms causing them to go off. This is a second floor bedroom where the ceiling collapsed. Photo Credit: Facebook

SHELTON, Conn. — The Brownson House at the Shelton History Center needs help after sustaining severe damage following an Oct 28 storm.

High winds and heavy rain caused damage to the roof, which was already under repair, as well as to front ceilings and walls of the 193-year-old house. In addition, the main collection storeroom in the basement was damaged.

School groups that were scheduled to participate in programs have been canceled. The buildings will be closed to visitors for the foreseeable future.

The most delicate items in the collection at the Shelton Historical Society and the ones most affected by the incident are the documents that got wet. While there are many papers housed in vertical files within cabinets, other odd- sized letters, diaries, scrapbooks, and manuscripts are stored in document boxes that were on shelves in the main storeroom. 

“It is unknown at this time how many of these boxes and their contents were damaged,” said President Marty Coughlin. “Right now, the curator, librarian, director, and volunteers are assessing to see what will have to be sent for conservation. It will be a very time consuming process. There was at least one piece of furniture that was damaged as well.”

The Huntington and White Hills fire departments diverted water away from historic furnishings, while others carefully moved artifacts to dry places. Historian and local resident Rob Novak and Co-Steps Coordinator Kathy Craughwell Varda assisted with restoration advice.

Co-Steps is a coordinated statewide emergency planning advisory group for cultural and heritage sites. Professionals from other museums around the state have also offered to assist with clean-up efforts.

“More than ever right now, we need the community’s support,” says Tracey Tate, Director. “Hopefully insurance will take care of the repairs to the building, but for the documents and objects that need to be sent to professionals for conservation treatment, we hope our friends and neighbors will step in with donations to help. It’s these documents that tell the tales.”

Support for treatments to damaged collection items can be sent to the Shelton Historical Society, P.O. Box 2155, Shelton, CT 06484. Make checks payable to "Shelton Historical Society" and mark checks “disaster relief.”

There is also a Gofundme page to make an online donation.

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