Library’s ‘train’ and downtown sign restored thanks to Norfolk Community Association

The wooden train outside of the Norfolk Library, which has recently been restored thanks to The Norfolk Community Association. Photo by Doreen Kelly.
The wooden train outside of the Norfolk Library, which has recently been restored thanks to The Norfolk Community Association. Photo by Doreen Kelly.

NORFOLK — Since its founding in 1895, the nonprofit Norfolk Community Association has undertaken many ways to make the town a better place.
According to its website at http://nca-ct.org the association is currently working on a restoration of the steps leading down to the WWI monument on the town’s Memorial Green, and the installation of a flag display during Memorial Day.
“The association started as a beautification organization and, over the years, we haven’t strayed too far from that objective,” organization co-president Doreen Kelly said in an interview with The Winsted Phoenix. “We have under our umbrella a lot of historic preservation projects as well.”
This fall, the association has undertaken two new projects: the restoration of the large wooden children’s train set outside of the Norfolk Library and the restoration of the directional sign in front of the Village Green.
The train was first installed in 1989 in memory of association member Christina Vanderlip’s daughter.
The wooden train is 40 feet long, with each car eight to 10 feet long.
“It needed a full restoration,” Vanderlip said. “The caboose had come off of its track and it was askew. It wasn’t turned over but it was out of whack. The train itself needed some painting and some boards needed to be replaced because some of it was rotten.”
Vanderlip said that restoration work was done by carpenter Chris Smith of Winsted, owner of American Home Repair.
“He did a great job fixing it up,” Vanderlip said. “It gets a lot of use by children in town.”
“I live very close to the train and I can hear when the children are there playing on it,” Kelly said. “They all get a lot of fun out of it. It’s a very pleasant experience for parents, babysitters, and children in town to be able to walk from the library to the train. We see a lot of pictures that get posted on social media and comments from grown-ups who remember playing on the train as children.”
The second project, restoring the directional sign, has been undertaken by local artist Madeline Falk.
The sign was originally installed in front of the Village Green in the 1960s originally painted by Raymond Dowden, a director of the Yale Summer School of Art
The colorful sign has several paintings of local wildlife including a moose, a rabbit, along with distances of Norfolk to Winsted, Canaan, Litchfield, and other locations.
“It’s just a beautiful landmark,” Falk said. “To have a little piece of folk art right here in the center of town is great.”
Falk said she previously restored the sign two years ago.
“Over time the weather gets at the sign and the paint on it gets bubbly,” Falk said. “The paint all blisters and flakes off. It was getting to a point where it was starting to show and it needed to be reworked. I had to scrape some of it. You can’t just scrape off the blistered part and repaint it because it’s all varnished.”
She said that at the base of the painting is ‘still sort of a ghost painting when it’s all stripped off” so Falk has something to go with when she repaints it.
“We’re going to keep the sign down during the winter because every winter has been harsh on the sign,” she said. “We’re going to do the big reveal in the spring when everyone will be out and about.”

Correction: the original article named The Norfolk Foundation as undertaking the projects. The Winsted Phoenix regrets the error.

Photos by Doreen Kelly

The wooden train outside of the Norfolk Library, which has recently been restored thanks to The Norfolk Community Association. Photo by Doreen Kelly.
Local artist Madeline Falk with the town’s directional sign that she is restoring.

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