Wethersfield Historical Society is pleased to announce an award of a $500,000 Good to Great grant from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and Connecticut Humanities for the second phase of the restoration of the Hurlbut-Dunham House located on Main Street in the center of Old Wethersfield. With this grant award, the Society will commence the first two stages of the house’s renovation and begin additional fundraising for the subsequent phases.
“This grant is transformative for the Society and allows us to begin our first two phases of work to restore the Hurlbut-Dunham House to ensure that it can safe, accessible and welcoming for everyone, and will be treasured by the public for years to come,” said Executive Director Amy Northrop Wittorff. “We are grateful for the unfailing support of our Wethersfield state legislators, Senators John Fonfara and Matt Lesser, and Representatives Kerry Wood and Amy Morrin Bello.”
The funds will support the first two phases of the renovation including the repair of the decayed porch along with the addition of a ramp for accessibility; extensive basement work to ensure the building’s structural integrity; reinforcement of roof rafters; repair of exterior structural brownstone sills and lintels; restoration of windows; exterior woodwork repair and painting; and installation of HVAC inside the home. The restoration of a second-floor servant’s room will help expand the story to encompass all people who lived and worked at the home in the past.
“The last private owners of the home, Jane and Howard Dunham, were leaders in the early 20th-century preservation movement that preserved Old Wethersfield and were among the founders of Wethersfield Historical Society,” said Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Lee Kuckro. “We are indebted to the commitment of the Dunhams as we embark on this ambitious project to preserve an important part of our community for generations,”
With the award of the Good to Great grant, the Society has reached its goal of $1 million to fund these initial stages of restoration. Additional support includes $200,000 from the State of Connecticut’s Historic Restoration Fund as well as contributions from generous private donors and foundations, including the Maximillian E. and Marion O. Hoffman Foundation, the 1772 Foundation, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, the Farmington Bank Community Foundation, and Americana Corner.
The house, built in the late 18th century, has long served as one of Wethersfield’s landmarks. The home and grounds have welcomed visitors and residents for tours, social gatherings, musical and theatrical performances, and film productions. The Society has carefully maintained the property and its beautiful contents, yet time has taken its toll on the house and key structural elements of the building have deteriorated.
The Society has three more stages of renovations planned, and those initiatives require additional contributions.
“We are grateful for the funds from the State so that we can begin work on the house, but we are continuing our fundraising efforts for additional phases of the project, including landscape improvement, shutter repair, and interior finishes restoration. Once work begins, we have to be prepared for increased costs of materials and labor that may be higher than original estimates. Matching funds from individual donors are required to apply for additional grants,” said Governing Board President Dorene Ciarcia.
The physical work on the building inspires a reinterpretation of the home that is more relevant to the current times and better serves our diverse community. In-depth research, supported with additional funding from Connecticut Humanities, is underway to learn more about the architectural significance of the building as well as the home’s inhabitants, workers, visitors, and their contribution to the history and culture of the town.
For more information on how to support this project contact Executive Director Amy Northrop Wittorff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To give to the Capital Campaign online, click here.