Old State House to Close Temporarily

One element of the state budget that caught the Department of Energy and Environmental by surprise wasn't their $10 million cut.

Lawmakers approved and the governor signed a budget and implementer that transferred the management of the Old State House in Downtown Hartford to DEEP from the Office of Legislative Management, the agency that manages the State Capitol and LOB.

“We have major responsibilities running a major parks system with 109 locations, we did not ask to take this on," said Dennis Schain, a spokesman for DEEP.

While that transfer gets hammered out, the building will be closed to the public.

The budget transferred $400,000 to DEEP, as well as the groundwork to move management to the agency. Schain said it's not unheard of for the department to take over such a building or facility, but said the timing just isn't ideal.

“We do operate the state parks system, we do have state park museums within that system like Gillete Castle and Dinosaur Museum, Old State House is a much different animal, a historic structure downtown," Schain said. 

William Bevacqua, who helps to manage the building on behalf of the Connecticut Public Affairs Network, told NBC Connecticut in a statement, "We're ready to continue the conversation with DEEP and to continue programming in the building. We're fully committed to seeing the building succeed."

This is not the first time that control over the Old State House has been in flux. Back in 2008, the state acquired the building from the Connecticut Historical Society.

Governor Dan Malloy said today while his administration, specifically the Office of Policy and Management was aware of the budget decision from Democrats back in April, it wasn't his budget idea.

“I certainly want to see it open," he said. "How it got transferred to DEEP out of legislative branch, was not something that I was part of, to tell you the truth.”

A transfer agreement is expected sometime this summer. Schain with the department says with funding cuts already happening, the department is going to have to figure out a way to make the new arrangement work.

“In a different era with funding, with support, maybe you make that stretch and could take something like that on it but it’s difficult within the climate we’re in,” Malloy said. 

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