On Oct. 28 just after 6:30 p.m. the Huntington Fire Co. #3 and the White Hills Fire Co. #5 trucks responded to an automatic fire alarm that was triggered at the 193-years-old Shelton Historical Society Brownson house located on 70 Ripton Road.
Firefighters arrived to the scene to find a large amount of rainwater leaking through the roof of a second floor bedroom. The leak caused a short in a smoke detector, damaged the ceilings and walls of four front rooms, and the main collection storeroom in the basement but potentially helped save more items from being destroyed.
There was also a leak in the attic and more water damage that seeped down to the first floor.
The leak in the bedroom on the second floor led to a portion of the ceiling collapsing upon one of the beds that was on display. According to Deborah Rossi, the Historical Society’s curator, the building will be closed for several months as the staff is in the process of raising funds to fix the damages.
They’ve been receiving help from the likes of the community.
“The help and donations means the world to us,” said Rossi. “All of the support we have been receiving has made what was an unbearable situation a little more easy to cope with.”
Representatives from both fire departments were unavailable for immediate comment, but Rossi said the staff is grateful for the work they did to save as many items as possible.
According to a letter to the editor from Marty Coughlin, President of the Historical Society, local and statewide volunteers came to help save the documents and artifacts housed at the Center as well.
“When the meeting of the Society’s teen club was cancelled, the kids showed up determined to help with the cleanup,” said Coughlin in his letter. “Thanks to the efforts of the staff of the Society and all the firemen and volunteers, we have stabilized the Brownson House. Months of repair work lie ahead.”
Firefighters began to cover items throughout the building to protect them from water damage as soon as they arrived on the scene, but unfortunately some items were still drenched.
According to Rossi, the water damage resulted in the staff having to ship out numerous items to Texas to try and be salvaged.
“When historic items get really wet, we freeze them,” said Rossi. “Then you freeze dry them. As a result of the amount of water damage the items sustained we sent a couple of boxes to the freeze drying facility out in Texas. Once they’re dry we will be able to evaluate whether or not we can conserve them or if they are a total loss or not. Right now, we just don’t know.”
If you would like to make a contribution to help repair the damage done by the rain, contribute to the Disaster Fund at The Shelton Historical Society, P. O. Box 2155, Shelton, CT, 06484 or at www.GoFundMe.com/qq7w23y4.
For more details visit www.sheltonhistoricalsociety.org or search Shelton History Center on Facebook.