By Rob Glidden
After 175 years of standing up to weather and wear, the roof at the Barnes Museum is currently being replaced.
“It’s a good feeling to know that they are up there,” said curator Marie Secondo. “The roof is looking great.”
The homestead was built in 1836 and was home to the Barnes family for several generations until it was given to the town in 1973. Those who lived in the home collected a huge amount of various memorabilia and objects that now offer a glimpse into the past.
Smaller repair work has been done on the ancient roof many times over the decades, but most of the roof was still the original slate and a replacement was inevitable. Secondo frequently dealt with leaks in the attic, where many historically important items are stored.
The museum is overseen by the library, which used its historical status to obtain a grant from the Historic Preservation Trust, part of the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. The grant offers the library $46,000, about half of the expected costs of the roof repair. It was given on the condition that the town would match the other half. The rest of the cost did not come from the town budget, but from an endowment left by Bradley Barnes, which generates annual dividends.
“We’re very happy,” said Library Director Sue Smayda. “They have been working hard and it should be done soon. It may not be completely done before the Taste of Southington, but it will be in good enough condition that it won’t make any impact.”
The annual Taste of Southington event is held on the grounds of the Barnes Museum. Secondo agreed that the majority of the work was likely to be completed before the event, which falls this year on Aug. 8.
The new roof is also carefully being modeled after the previous one, in order to preserve the historical character of the museum. Secondo said she was also collecting some pieces of the original roof and the homemade nails that were used to attach it in the 1830s.
“I’m not sure if anyone really paid much attention to the roof, but there was a definite design to it,” she said. “They have been very precise in terms of making the facade look the one it once did.”