Conn. historical society ordered to pay for repairs

Nick Rees Sep. 21, 2009, 11:00pm

Richard Blumenthal (D)

HARTFORD, Conn. (Legal Newsline) - Failure to properly use trust money by a historical society to maintain an 18th Century home has netted the society an order to pay $30,000 in restitution to repair the home.

The New Haven Colony Historical Society, which Attorney General Richard Blumenthal concluded failed to properly use trust money to maintain the historic Pardee-Morris House's grounds, came under investigation after the attorney general received complaints from neighborhood residents regarding increasing signs of neglect and poor maintenance.

The investigation revealed that the historical society, which was seeking state funding for renovations on the house, had allowed the structure to fall into disrepair.

The historical society has recently made strong efforts to repair the damage sustained, Blumenthal said, but the $30,000 in restitution, to be paid over the next four years, is needed to facilitate further repairs.

"The New Haven Colony Historical Society has rightly reclaimed a monument to New Haven's history - but more must be done," Blumenthal said. "The Pardee-Morris home has received a second chance at survival, spared from further neglect, and now must receive consistent continuing care."

Blumenthal has also required that a clear record-keeping system be established to demonstrate that income from the trust income is invested properly in the home.

"The historical society has a moral and legal duty to honor the Pardee Trust and preserve fragile remnants of New Haven history," Blumenthal said. "I commend the historical society for recognizing its responsibility and renewing efforts to maintain this home. I look forward to continued cooperation to ensure that maintenance and preservation of the Pardee-Morris home is honored."

The house was gifted to the historical society upon the death of William S. Pardee, who directed that it be maintained and operated as an historical monument, community center and library. The Pardee-Morris House was built out of the ruins of another home that was burned by British troops in 1779.

The residue of Pardee's estate was left in a trust with the direction that 25 percent of the income from the trust be distributed to the historical society for the operation and maintenance of the Pardee-Morris house.

An average of $28,000 per year has been given to the historical society from the trust over the last decade.

More News