The Town of Stratford acquired the Perry House in 1981 and, for almost 20 years, had rented the property as a multi-family house (three dwelling units in total). Increasingly stringent housing codes and the unique requirements of maintaining a colonial period house began to pull the Town's capabilities in opposite directions and, for safety purposes, the House was vacated around 1997. An Ad Hoc Reuse Committee was established at that time to recommend more appropriate uses of the Perry House. The Committee's report was submitted to the Town Council for consideration in 1998. It included a review of over five reuse options ranging from single-family residential use to more extensive commercial use. Thankfully, the Town Council agreed with the primary recommendation of the Reuse Committee: The Perry House should be used a tourism/visitors center with space to accommodate historic exhibits, special events and functions, with related offices on the second floor.
A Conditions Assessment Report was completed in October 1998 by Architectural Preservation Consultant Tom Paske of Westfield, MA. He concluded that, considering the age of the Perry Homestead, the overall condition of the structure is good. Paske identified specific problem areas and made recommendations for repairs.
The Town Council's General Building Needs Committee had the primary responsibility for overseeing the design and renovation of the Perry House. To address unique challenges with this project, the Town Council also formed a Perry House Subcommittee of community representatives to advise the town on historic preservation, fund-raising, marketing, programming, and use. Most of the members of the Subcommittee had also served on the Reuse Committee and, by now, were growing fond of the notion that this old house could become a real community focal point.
A feasibility study was completed by O'Riordan Migani Architects of Derby, CT. It was their professional belief that the use envisioned by the Reuse Committee in 1998 was not only achievable, but desirable.
Between 2001 and 2002, the Stratford Community Development Agency took a strong leadership role by approving a total of $250,000 in Community Development Block Grant Funds for the renovation project. The town also committed $50,000 in capital funds to the renovation project, mostly to restore the roof and secure the building from further deterioration in the early part of the restoration process. Towards the end of the restoration process, the Town needed to provide an additional $70,000 in investment to provide for a sprinkler system throughout the house.
The Town was pleased that the State Historical Commission agreed to be an additional partner in the process when they approved a Historic Restoration Grant of $60,000. The needed funds helped the Town enhance the historic renovation‚ and increased the credibility of the effort.
Bidding and construction took place on the project between 2003 and 2004. Most of the work was completed by the end of 2004, and the newly-formed Perry House Foundation took over management and operational responsibility in early 2005. In the end, the Perry House had been fully restored to support its use as a public facility. The entire first floor was fully renovated to meet current codes, including heating, electrical and plumbing systems as well as structural systems. All of the interior decorations (color choices, wallpaper, window treatments, furnishings, and decorations) have been selected, purchased and installed by the Perry House Foundation.
The Town of Stratford continues to be a partner in the project. Under the leadership of the Mayor and the Town Council, the Town provides support services in the form of utilities, building maintenance, and lawn maintenance.
Staffing and operations are supported by volunteers, with the exception of a part-time Executive Director, hired in 2008.