New Haven's historical center attracting visitors

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By Kacie Goode/Landmark News Service

The Historical Preservation and Information Center, located at 306 Center St. in New Haven, has been developing over the past year into a gathering place for the community and a celebration of town history and local military personnel.

In the front room of the building, photographs of New Haven veterans line the walls, and in the office area, Tessie Cecil, director of the center, displays a collection of items and photos of New Haven businesses and landmarks throughout the years.

“We’re updating our city pictures, so those are coinciding with historical preservation,” she said, adding that the center has worked continuously over the past year to get things going. “Everything is under construction. It’s been under construction for over a year now.”

Cecil said the center has received growing attention from locals and visitors, particularly during the Iron Horse Festival, who stop by to view the historical display inside.

“I was really surprised,” she said. “We had over a hundred people that came in over the day.”

She said the veterans display has brought in families of those pictured, some of whom learn more about their ancestors with the visit. She gave the example of an eighth-grade student who had visited the center and was impressed to see a picture of her grandfather she had never seen before.

“He was very young in the picture,” Cecil said.

She said she enjoys when young people stop by the center and are interested by the veterans’ pictures and the historical town pictures.

“It is education information,” she said, adding that she hopes to establish some sort of youth program at the center to expand upon those learning opportunities.

Since word about the center’s veterans project has spread, Cecil said veterans looking for information about military benefits have visited her, and she works to connect them with the appropriate people.

“I called our VA representatives and we are trying to get information from them, she said. “Little by little, we get the word, and they’re realizing this place is here. I’m hoping we are able to help somebody one way or another. That’s the purpose of this place … and the coffee is always here.”

She said another plan she has for the center includes establishing it as a Safe Place outreach location to help runaway youth or families.

“We met with the Safe Place coordinator from Lexington, and she met with us here,” she said, adding that she plans on meeting with the Board of Commissioners in the future to discuss the program.

Because the center has taken on several projects and funding is limited, Cecil encourages volunteers to help with tasks around the center, including framing pictures. And corporate sponsors are also welcomed to help support the center financially so that it can continue to grow and provide its services to the New Haven community.

“If anybody would like to be our corporate sponsor here, let us know,” she said. “Financially, that would help us. We have several offices here that we could put their names on the door.”

For information on the Historical Preservation and Information Center or to become a volunteer or sponsor for the center, contact Cecil at (502) 249-8177 or City Hall at (502) 549-3177.