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Norwich - An effort by the Norwich Historical Society to establish a tourist information center at the historic Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse on the Norwichtown Green received a boost this week with the project's first grant award of $1,000 from the Chelsea Groton Foundation.
The City Council earlier this month approved a plan to lease the city-owned 1782 brick one-room schoolhouse at 69 E. Town St. to the historical society for $1, provided the organization could raise the necessary funds to upgrade the building and operate the tourist center.
Historical society project coordinator Regan Miner said the immediate funding need is for $18,800 - $12,000 to install a gas heater and air conditioning unit, $5,000 for chimney work, weather stripping and repairs to the handicapped access ramp and $1,800 for office start-up costs, such as phone, Internet and printer.
The historical society hopes to have funding in place to open the Norwich Regional Heritage Information Center by late summer or early fall.
The $1,000 grant the historical society received from the Chelsea Groton Foundation Thursday will pay for an exhibit display case to showcase stories of Norwich history from its founding in 1659 to the present, including the continued strong relations with the Mohegan Tribe and the city's growth in the industrial era.
"We're working on multiple grant opportunities, from the state of Connecticut and from the local area foundations and trust funds," Miner said.
The group also is accepting donations from the public.
Once the immediate funding needs to open the center are met, the group will need an estimated $10,000 for long-term projects to paint the window frames and repoint the building's brick façade.
The historical society plans to work with numerous local museums, heritage societies and local tourist attractions to stock the center with brochures, maps and calendars of events. The society plans to reprint several Norwich walking tour brochures that have been out of print and have in stock "every walking tour" of Norwich.
Online donations for the Norwich Regional Heritage Information Center are being accepted at www.norwichhistoricalsociety.org. Checks can be made out the Norwich Historical Society, 307 Main St., Norwich CT 06360.