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Ideas discussed in second sign series for New Haven

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By Kacie Goode

The New Haven Community Development Committee is gearing up for spring, when it will unveil its second series in a new sign project started earlier this year.

The project, called Historical Perspective, began in September when the committee debuted the first series. The series included 11 blue-framed signs depicting historical photographs of various locations around town. Series 2 will continue with new photos and new locations.

Michael Mouser, who introduced the project, presented a few of the photos he would like to see in the upcoming series at the committee’s Dec. 8 meeting.

In the 13 photos presented, the majority focused on different perspectives of Center Street. Structures such as the old Sherwood Hotel, gas station, bank and stores showcase some of the city’s history while illustrating both development and preservation.

“That was torn down in the 1930s or 20s to build a gas station and that’s what’s been there ever since,” Mouser said, pointing to a building in the corner of one photo.

The photo list up for consideration also included pictures of St. Catherine High School’s construction of a gymnasium, and construction of the first St. Catherine Church in the late 1800s.

Mouser also found photos depicting people from the late 1800s and early 1900s, allowing viewers to see clothing styles and modes of transportation, such as horse-drawn carriages.

The committee is looking to have 20 signs included in the second series, and to include different colored frames to set the new signs apart from the old. Discussion also continues on incorporating QR codes and digital information so viewers can learn more about the designated location and its history.

Bicentennial celebration proposed

The sign project also prompted discussion on the possibility of hosting a bicentennial celebration in 2020, which Mouser and committee members would like to start planning for immediately.

Mouser said that, during research for the project, he came across references to New Haven being founded (not incorporated) in 1820.

“We’re three years out from the 200th anniversary,” he said.

If the city adopted that founding date, Mouser said he would like to see the community come together for a bicentennial celebration, which could include a series of events throughout the year.

“We could bring back events from the past,” he said, such as a raft race, a homecoming picnic, an all-star marathon and vintage baseball. He said the city could also promote the bicentennial through existing events such as the Iron Horse Festival, Big Wheel race and church gatherings.

Money leftover from grants, donations

The committee received a $2,000 donation from Newcomb Oil for the purchase of Christmas decorations. With that money, it has purchased new Christmas banners, new lights and materials for the town’s Christmas tree stand. Jane Masse said the committee still has about $150 leftover that could be used for additional decorations, such as a display at the park.

The committee also still has the majority of a grant left over for other community development efforts. The tourism grant has helped purchase signs for the Historical Perspectives project, and Masse said the committee could look at creating an informational brochure to go along with those signs or other initiatives to promote tourism. The committee has also been working to improve promotion of the city and attractions in local tourism, including a write-up in a published guide.