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A Meeting Of The “Historical” Minds

1234016_10200842343005326_86349225_nOn Tuesday Amy Kirby President of the New Britain Historical Society and Tom Dickau President of the Bristol Historical Society met at Bristol’s Summer Street location. The two discussed the importance of collaboration between museums and other societies.

Tom stressed the importance of moving their message outside of the Greater Bristol community. The Bristol Historical Society has three museums at the Summer St. location each museum is a separate entity independent with its own board of directors. The Sports Hall of Fame, Memorial Military Museum and Historical Society all work together. Besides the Museums within the Historical Society they also collaborate with the American Clock Museum, Barnes and Indian Rock Nature Preserves, Imagination Museum, New England Carousel Museum and also provide activities for the Bristol Public Library and the Bristol Public Schools.

1238361_10200829931695051_2113557737_nThe New Britain Historical Society currently doesn’t have a home for their artifacts, meetings and fundraisers. They have been trying to raise money to purchase the Hatch building on Washington Street in downtown New Britain. The building needs extensive repairs including a new roof. Kirby said recently “The New Britain Council made a decision to raise the price to $40,000. She said the original asking price was $20,000 and the Society will not be able to raise that amount to purchase the building”.

Besides the purchase price, both Presidents came to an agreement that they share a parallel story. In Bristol The Historical Society was given their Summer Street location for $1 by the City. However, the building was in horrible shape and vandalized. Dickau said “it was a money pit”. They did extensive repairs when they took over the former School and are continuing to make repairs to the building.  Dickau went on to discuss with Kirby the same hurdles they had to go through to get the former Bristol High School building.

Their next project is to place a new roof on the building and restore its second floor. Dickau also said he hopes the City will 3099801880_7086b838ac_oalso waive the permit fees as they recently did for The Bristol Boys & Girls Club. “We want the same” said Dickau.

Due to the fact that The New Britain Historical Society doesn’t have a home to call its own.  Dickau said he’s open to discussing New Britain holding meetings, fundraisers and possibly more at The Bristol Historical Society.

Ellen Zoppo-Sassu who is active in both New Britain and Bristol said.

“I think there is always a benefit to organizations with similar missions sharing resources and collaborating. As having had one foot in Bristol and one in New Britain for many years, I believe there are many areas of shared interest including manufacturing and industrial interests. I know many people from Bristol who worked for years at Fafnir or Stanley, for example, and likewise, many people traveled to Bristol to work in the Ingraham, Sessions and New Departure factories.
I am sure that the Bristol Historical Society will be able to assist the New Britain Historical Society in a variety of ways as they grow as an organization. I am not a big believer in constantly “re-creating the wheel so if they can take what we have done and replicate our successes and avoid the pitfalls, then that will be a very positive thing.”

After knowledge of the possible collaboration among the two Historical Societies, spokesperson for the New Britain Mayor’s office Fernando Marroquin said.

1000791_528078693912952_473582138_n“The Hatch building has been blighted for quite sometime. It’s part of our anti-blight ordinance set up by the current administration. We don’t want it to just sit there”.

Marroquin went on to say “The City has the property out to bid and they do not approve an offer solely based on the price. We take many factors into consideration for the betterment of the City. If the New Britain Historical Society offered $1.00 for the Hatch property and had proper financing we would consider it”.

In the coming weeks both Societies will discuss future relations and collaboration with each other.

For more information on these two Historical Societies you can visit New Britain’s & Bristol’s websites. Also New Britain & Bristol know the importance of social media and are both on Facebook.

1 comment on “A Meeting Of The “Historical” Minds

  1. Geri O'Keefe-Curtis

    If Mr. Marroquin is being honest when he said “If the New Britain Historical Society offered $1.00 for the Hatch property and had proper financing we would consider it”. that would be a step in the right direction. Let’s hope for the best!