Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of the Flood of 2010 when the Indian and Colonial Research Center saw the waters rise inside the circa 1856 Old Mystic National Bank building, threatening the museum’s collection of books, manuscripts, document s and artifacts.
Volunteers swooped in to save the collection, including the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, where the collection was dried and stored. In the meantime, over the past 24 months, literally countless volunteer hours were logged in rebuilding, restoring and repairing the damage done.
The auspicious anniversary was at once a grim reminder and a celebration this Saturday when the IRCC re-opened to the public.
“It feels great,” said Joan Cohn, the devoted director who herself has spent untold hours working to find the funding to cover the cost of the $63,000 rebuild and documenting every step along the way.
“As you can imagine, there was a lot of paperwork, a lot to do to get Federal Emergency Management Agency to help us,” Cohn said. The center raised some $30,000; around $11,000 was raised by members and from the greater community and ultimately, FEMA kicked in $16,000.
“It was a real fight,” Cohn said.
Saturday, the center held an open house attended by mostly the volunteers that worked over the past two years to get the museum back in shape.
“We had so much help,” Cohn said. “We never could have made it without so many people.” Like volunteers Michael Spellmon and Jim Marshall, the latter, Cohn said, “spent two months straight” working to rebuild, or Keith Stevens who “put back together all the pieces” of decorative frieze work inside the building.
But it wasn’t just the flood that wreaked havoc on the building. Last summer winds from Tropical Storm Irene toppled a huge tree onto its roof.
“When it rains, sometimes it pours,” Cohn said last year; her pun unlikely to be intended.
The building that is home for the ICRC contains original architectural features including barred windows, the vault, grained woodwork and friezes and its iron-faced entrance doors.
The ICRC is a designated a Connecticut State Registered Genealogical and Research Center.