The handwritten minutes of the town’s first meetings in 1921 when the population was just 983 people are among the hundreds of volumes of town records preserved for eternity with historical grants from the state. Town Clerk Pat O’Sullivan has been applying for and receiving Historic Preservation grants ranging from $2,500 to $7,000 per year since 2001. This year’s grant of $4,000 brings the total grant monies received to nearly $110,000. The grant program is part of the Community Investment Act which returns a portion of recording fees charged by town/city clerks for mortgages, deeds, judgment liens, and more, back to the town for preservation projects.
The money makes it possible for the Town Clerk’s office to scan volumes of thousands of town records onto microfilm as well as onto moisture and age-resistant archival paper which will withstand the ravages of time. Minutes from town meetings, and later Board of Selectmen, original documents of when Orange separated from West Haven in 1921 and land records are all available to access at the Town Clerk’s office. Pages of town meetings from 1946 and 1959 included minutes that documented the town selling six lots in Race Brook Estates to Julia and Thomas for $250.00 and hiring new police officers for an annual salary of $3,900.
O’Sullivan has also been able to rebind the unwieldy original bound volumes that were 16 X 24 inches in size and weighing upwards of 25 pounds each into volumes more conducive to perusing. The work is ongoing as O’Sullivan makes his way through decades of documents from births, deaths, deeds, business certificates, land transfers and the everyday recordings of town history. O’Sullivan takes his job as the keeper of the town’s history seriously. “It’s my job to make sure these documents are preserved for eternity,” he said.
By Laura Fantarella – Orange Town News Correspondent