His future is the past
Bethel man to lead state's Trust for Historic Preservation
By Marietta Homayonpour
BETHEL Jeffry Muthersbaugh has a definite idea of
what heaven should be like.
Jeffry and Maryan Muthersbaugh live in their historic home in Bethel.
Jeffry Muthersbaugh is the new chairman of the Connecticut Trust for
Historic Preservation. Photo: Aaron Flaum
"You will be able to view all of history like a movie," said the 51-year-old Muthersbaugh, who if he had a time machine would take it backward, not forward.
The Bethel man will bring his love for history and his penchant for diving enthusiastically into anything that interests him into his new position as chairman of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
He has been one of the 33 members on the group's board of trustees since 2000. He was elected chairman earlier this year and will take over the post on May 1.
"He has great energy and enthusiasm," said Theodore Ells, chairman of the Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation. As head of the trust's Development Committee, Muthersbaugh "worked very, very hard and was an effective leader," Ells said.
Ells credits Muthersbaugh with leading an effort to hire a development director to raise money. Muthersbaugh also held fundraising events for the trust, including a reception at the Marian Anderson Studio in Danbury.
Muthersbaugh will lead the trust during a critical time. For the first time since it was chartered by the state in the mid-1970s, the group will have state grant money to distribute about $200,000. Even more money could be available from other parts of the Community Investment Act passed by the state legislature last year.
Until now, the trust could hand out only as much money as it took from membership dues and donations. Last year, it handed out $233,000 from the Trust to municipalities and organizations.
As chairman, Muthersbaugh said his main goal will be to get state grant money for historic preservation to the towns "quickly and effectively." A committee will be set up as a liaison with Connecticut's towns so local officials know funds are available to survey and preserve historic sites.
"Number one," said Muthersbaugh, "is to identify historic structures and their significance to the town." Although not every historic property can be saved, towns will have a heads-up on saving those of high historic value, he said.
The Trust has earmarked $50,000 to help rehabilitate four historic houses in Hartford.
Muthersbaugh is doing his part to preserve history.
In the late 1980s, he and his wife, Maryan, bought a red, clapboard house on Milwaukee Avenue in Bethel. The three-story Colonial with a central chimney and six fireplaces was built in 1791.
Though Jeffry Muthersbaugh was interested in history before he bought the house it was his best subject in school the 1791 house fueled his fire. "It needed a lot of work," said Muthersbaugh. He and Maryan "restored it lovingly."
The Muthersbaughs researched old houses through visits to Salem, Mass. They learned to cook on an open hearth on trips to historic Hudson Valley in New York.
Their Bethel house was on the state's registry of historic places when they bought it and now is on the national register of historic places.
"I love beautiful things that are well made," says Jeffry Muthersbaugh. Whether it's old buildings. old ocean liners or former battleships, Muthersbaugh "can't stand to see something like that lost."
The name of the business Muthersbaugh founded in 2000 even has an historic tilt. It's called Heritage Recruitment Group.
Heritage, in the former Union Carbide headquarters in Danbury, has three employees besides Muthersbaugh and helps find people to fill jobs for such clients as Stanley Works and AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals. "Fascinating, the people, the companies," Muthersbaugh said enthusiastically about the work he does.
For many years, that enthusiasm also went into another part of Muthersbaugh life politics.
From 1989 until the late 1990s, Muthersbaugh was heavily involved in Republican Party politics. He was a member of the Bethel Republican Town Committee, ran a strong, but losing, campaign for state Senate in 1990, and was campaign manager for Fifth District U.S. Rep. Gary Franks' successful bids for Congress in 1992 and 1994.
For several years in the 1990s, Muthersbaugh also was district manager and press secretary for Franks. His office at work has about a dozen photos of Muthersbaugh at presidential inaugural balls and with President George W. Bush and Senator Robert Dole.
Muthersbaugh's work as president of Heritage Recruiting Group requires long hours and lots of travel. His volunteer work with the Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation also involves lots of time meeting with fellow board members and town leaders.
But Muthersbaugh isn't complaining.
"Someone said, 'If you want a job done give it to a busy man.' I've got the drive, the energy," he says, adding, "and I love it."
Contact Marietta Homayonpour
or at (203) 731-3336.