Old State House in Hartford closes its doors - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Old State House in Hartford closes its doors

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(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

The historic Old State House in Hartford has closed and there's no telling when or if it will reopen.

State officials blamed the state's budget woes.

"We drive by here all the time to go to church on Main Street, we've never been inside," said Joan Davidson of East Hartford.

The hallowed halls, which have stood for 22 years, are empty of visitors.

The building isn't the only thing affected. The Old State House is being moved from one state agency to another.

The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it only has about half the money it would take to run the building.

State lawmakers cut $100,000 toward the statehouse and DEEP said it's already trimming $10 million from its own budget.

Officials said that doesn't bode well for the future of the building.

Though, they said it has closed in the past and was nearly torn down by the city.

"I feel badly," Davidson said. "So much is closing because of the economy. It’s just one more thing that you can’t enjoy.”

The Connecticut Public Affairs Network, which manages the Old State House, said the icon has fallen victim to a new economic reality.

For the past eight years, the Connecticut Public Affairs Network has had the privilege of managing educational and community programming at Connecticut’s Old State House.  During that time, we have worked diligently to bring our state’s rich history and civic life together through our school programs and visitor experience, our public programs like Town Hall Meetings and Conversations at Noon, and our statewide outreach with school programs like Connecticut History Day and Connecticut’s Kid Governor.  We have played an active role in the larger conversation about civic engagement and civil discourse with organizations like the Civic Health Advisory Group, and garnered national recognition for many of our initiatives.  In all, we have been tireless in our efforts to imbue the Old State House with new purpose:  one that served and inspired the citizens of our state, and honored the tradition of a building that served as a seat of Connecticut’s government in the days of our nation’s infancy.

In the past few weeks we have seen that even a state icon can fall victim to our new economic reality, and it is with great regret that we see our contract to be the programmers of a place we have long loved come to an end.  As the General Assembly continues to work with the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection to transition the Old State House to DEEP’s stewardship, we stand ready – if called upon – to help shepherd yet another new era for the building.  Regardless of the outcome, CPAN’s educational focus and commitment to civic engagement remains unchanged and our organization will forge ahead with projects in the same spirit as those that had become synonymous with Connecticut’s Old State House.  We offer our deepest thanks to our many partners and collaborators so instrumental to our success and we look forward to working with you again soon.

“It’s a shame that it’s closing because a lot of people come down here, just to visit," said Dean Mitchell of Hartford.

The Office of Legislative Management said it is negotiating with DEEP, but the new lease on the building hasn't been finalized.

Both agencies said it's unclear how soon that will come together.

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