June 05--NORWALK -- The Norwalk Historical Society and Norwalk Historical Commission are preparing to fix up the Lockwood House on East Avenue to exhibit the city's historic collections and accommodate visitors.
"We finished signing the lease at the end of March, so we now have access and everything is out of the old (Norwalk) Museum," said Diane Jellerette, Norwalk Historical Society (NHS) executive director. "We're pulling up the rugs. We're contracting with a person who's working with us on interior design, painting, colors and rugs, and we're forming an exhibits committee to work on the exhibits."
In May 2012, The Norwalk Museum closed its doors at 41 North Main St., a victim of budget cuts.
A panel formed by then-Mayor Richard A. Moccia recommended moving the museum's archives to the Main Library and its collections to the Lockwood House on the City Hall campus at 141 East Ave.
Under the plan, the NHS will manage the collections after their relocation.
The Historical Society, a not-for-profit organization, already manages the city-owned Mill Hill Historic Park on East Wall Street.
The plan for the Lockwood House will take some time to become a reality.
The Lockwood House was built between 1971 and 1973 to house antiques and manuscripts belonging to the Lockwood family, whose members were among the earliest settlers in Norwalk.
To accommodate Norwalk Museum collections and also NHS items, as well as visitors, the structure will need some work.
The city's Purchasing Department recently released a request for proposals seeking an architectural firm to draw up plans for making the Lockwood House compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
"There is an exterior ADA ramp, but it is no longer complaint, and the bathrooms need some work and all the sidewalks around the building are too narrow and need to be expanded," said David G. Westmoreland, Norwalk Historical Commission chairman. And "we're going to look at the feasibility of a limited-use elevator."
Westmoreland said the Historical Commission and Historical Society plan to open the Lockwood House in summer 2015 even though some work will remain.
"We're planning to open before all of this is done, because there is access to the first floor," Westmoreland said.
The Norwalk Fire Department used the Lockwood House for its administrative offices when its new headquarters was under construction on Connecticut Ave. The headquarters opened late last summer.
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