Today, as the nation works its way out of a mighty recession, it seems natural to look back at the Depression-era origins of the old stone building in which the Mansfield Historical Society is housed.
Construction began in late 1934 for the Mansfield Town Office Building. The project was one of many sponsored by the Work Projects Administration (WPA) during the period. A one-story colonial edifice with stone exterior and a fireproof vault within, the building was designed to provide a central place for carrying on town business and for safely housing important town records. Meanwhile, however, the construction project gave much-needed work to the town's unemployed.
Previously, the records and town meetings were located in the Old Town Hall (built in 1843). Town business was conducted out of the homes of the various officers. This arrangement became progressively less satisfactory: first, the Town Hall was old and wooden, making it a dangerously fire-prone depository for valuable records; secondly, the town needed to have a central place for offices. The new building, built on the premises of the Old Town Hall, solved these problems and, as an added benefit, employed those in need of work.
The town conducted business from the Mansfield Town Office Building for over four decades. In 1957, a few changes were made to the original building: an addition was built, enlarging the vault area and adding more office space. Eventually, however, Mansfield's government sought a larger edifice. In 1977, voters approved plans to renovate the old Storrs Grammar School and transform it into a new municipal building. The town offices moved into the new municipal building at the end of the 1970s. In 1984, the building was named after the late Senator Audrey Buck, and the town offices remain in the Audrey Buck Municipal Building to this day. Meanwhile, in 1980, the Mansfield Historical Society moved into the stone structure at 954 Storrs Rd. This building and the Old Town Hall next door are where the Society's museum and library are located today.
Held within the strength of stone and history, the Society makes its home.
If You'd Like To Learn More:
- Chronology of Mansfield, Connecticut: 1702-2002. Mansfield, Conn.: Mansfield Historical Society, 2003.
- "Report of Completed, Transferred, or Discontinued Projects." 11 Feb. 1936. Mansfield Historical Society Archives.
- Smith, Roberta K. Listen to the Echoes: The Early History of Spring Hill, Mansfield, Connecticut. Mansfield, Conn.: Mansfield Historical Society, 2004.
Please click here for the Mansfield Historical Society's website, which includes further information about the Society's services, programs, and publications, as well as archived articles and newsletters.