Meriden Historical Society plans to move downtown
MERIDEN – The Meriden Historical Society made a deal last week to purchase the old silver museum at 41 W. Main St. for $ 500,000.
The purchase will allow the historical society to expand its offerings to the general public, while closing its research center on Hanover Street, historical society officials said. The new neighborhoods give the nonprofit four times the space it currently has.
“We have outgrown the facility and are looking for an opportunity to be more accessible to the community,” said company president Sherwin Borsuk. “Our new facility will house our growing collection of Meriden-related artifacts and give us the much-needed space to run additional programs for the community.”
The museum is considered prime real estate in the downtown transit-oriented development district, but has been vacant for several years. Built in 1921 to house the Meriden office of Connecticut Gas & Electric, it then exhibited the city’s silver heritage, it has since housed the collection of famous opera star Rosa Ponselle, as well as glassware and memorabilia from hairdresser. More recently, it housed offices and Nina’s Cafe.
Daniel Baba of Baba Realty bought the property in 2013 for $ 500,000 and rented office space, extended the kitchen and renovated the second floor. But walk-in traffic has declined after Middlesex Community College moved from its neighboring Meriden campus and the cafe closed.
Borsuk said the museum’s layout was perfect for housing exhibits and hosting events. The city-owned courtyard to the west of the building provides additional space for outdoor gatherings. The company is financing with a short-term loan, an already underway capital fundraising campaign and the sale of the Hanover Avenue property. The MHS is an independent, non-profit organization that relies on membership fees, contributions and bequests.
“Interest in the MHS extends far beyond the city limits. Information on Meriden manufacturers is sought after by collectors, dealers, auction houses and museums nationwide and around the world. “Meriden is well known for its manufacturing heritage and we look forward to opening up other aspects of Meriden’s rich history, including its community traditions and the lives and contributions of the people who made Meriden their home,” Borsuk . mentionned.
The Andrews Homestead on West Main Street will remain open and will continue to host exhibits and tours.
The move to the city center provides more visibility and its proximity to the YMCA, a new ice cream shop next door and small restaurants may make it a destination for families, said city councilor Michael Rohde, who recently joined. the board of directors of the historical society.
“The purchase by the Meriden Historical Society of the former Silver Museum and the Barber Shop Museum is a positive change for society and a welcome boost to the economic development of downtown Meriden,” said the former mayor and current MHS board member Michael Rohde. “This acquisition of a historic building will bring renewed dynamism to the city center, attracting visitors to presentations and events celebrating Meriden’s unique history and significance.
Borsuk said the small auditorium on the lower level of the building is perfect for discussions and lectures, and that the exhibition space is sufficient for the company’s collections. The company has no immediate plans for the cafe part of the building, but will re-evaluate the space after moving its collections.
There is a huge amount of artifacts detailing the history of the city, and the city will be cleaning up the courtyard to make a place for it, Rohde said. The plan is to attract children and families and work on programming with schools. An opening gala is planned for October.
“We’re going to have something to do downtown,” Rohde said.
Mayor Kevin Scarpati said the historical society was underutilized and filled with untapped resources. The idea of a museum and a café with the open courtyard could be a plus for the city center. He remembers visiting the Money Museum as a student.
“I think this will be a great resource for our community and our students,” said Scarpati. “A lot of the objects that society owns in terms of artifacts and images are hidden, unknown or not so accessible. Connecticut has so many museums and Meriden has such a rich history. If there is a way to use that space, it could be a huge plus. “
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