Community Foundation moving to historic 1837 Acors Barns house

New London - The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut has purchased the historic 1837 Acors Barns house at 68 Federal St. and plans to relocate its headquarters there.

The foundation purchased the house for $325,000 from James and Ellen McGuire on June 21 and plans to move within the next six to 12 months after renovating the building to make it handicapped accessible, board Chairman Paul Nunes said Friday.

The foundation will own the building outright after receiving anonymous donations to cover much of the purchase price and the renovations, Nunes said.

The house, originally built for Barns, a sea captain and president of the nearby National Bank of Commerce, has served as the home of the McGuire law firm for two generations. Nunes said the McGuire family kept the house in "pristine condition," and the foundation will make sure renovations do not alter its historic integrity.

Rather than attaching handicapped ramps to the porch, an elevator could be installed at the rear of the house, he said. Historically, the house had two large living rooms divided by pocket doors. The rooms were converted into offices, and the foundation will create one large conference room in that space.

"I'm very pleased that an historic building that has meant so much to my family will be used and preserved by the foundation to serve the community," attorney James McGuire said.

The Community Foundation also owns the building where its headquarters are currently located, a four-story building at 147 State St., and the board of directors will have to decide whether to put that building up for sale or rent, Nunes said. The foundation occupies the first floor, with New London Main Street on the second floor, and apartments on the upper floors, he said.

"State Street served us well for 12 years, but our needs have outgrown our current space," Nunes said.

The foundation has six full-time staff, including one who works mainly in the foundation's expansive northeastern Connecticut region. Nunes said the foundation may look to open a Windham County satellite office in the future.

The foundation holds many committee meetings on its grant programs and scholarships, bringing many volunteers to the State Street building. The current building has no off-street parking, and on-street parking on State Street is limited. The Barns house has 13 off-street parking spaces, as well as on-street spaces on Federal Street.

"If we do sell the building, proceeds from the sale will go back into the foundation to potentially put into grants or scholarships," Nunes said.

c.bessette@theday.com

COMMUNITY FOUNDATION

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut receives and combines donations from individuals to make grants to nonprofit organizations that support the donors' wishes.

In 2010, the foundation merged with the Tri-County Area Community Foundation in northeastern Connecticut and now serves 42 towns.

The foundation serves Ashford, Bozrah, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Chaplin, Colchester, Columbia, Coventry, Eastford, East Lyme, Franklin, Griswold, Groton, Hampton, Killingly, Lebanon, Ledyard, Lisbon, Lyme, Mansfield, Montville, New London, North Stonington, Norwich, Old Lyme, Plainfield, Pomfret, Preston, Putnam, Salem, Scotland, Sprague, Stafford, Sterling, Stonington, Thompson, Union, Voluntown, Waterford, Willington, Windham and Woodstock.

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