DEEP RIVER, Conn. (WTNH) – “We owed it to this building to do it right,” says Allison Sloane as she leads News 8 on a tour around a massive building, an original Pratt Read ivory mill in Deep River, home to a complicated story.
“The ivory trade came to Deep River and Essex in the 1800s and it was the largest ivory trade in the United States,” explains Sloane. “We’re very excited about imparting that on people and telling them about the ivory trade, the good and the bad.”
Now, a business that exploited elephants for piano keys will house an animal sanctuary. It’s all part of the Pandemonium Rainforest, a destination with a big mission.
“It’s kind of a two-fold rescue, we rescue animals but we rescued this building,” says Sloane.
The thrift shop, called R3 for Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose, is filled with eclectic items, a place to hunt for treasures, and also assist families during this tough time.
“We want people to be able to afford clothes for their kids, there’s poverty in our towns,” says Sloane.
Walls have been painted, floors and windows restored…in this space also once used by the Esico iron soldering company. It’s items are still on display.
And, there are plans for even more.
“This is going to be our West Factory Museum,” says Sloane, opening the doors to an old ivory vault.
A nearby space is under construction, too.
“This is The Antiquarian and this is going to be where all the old books are,” says Sloane, also pointing to a future cafe which will overlook the historic grounds. “We’ll have locally-made pastries and a good cup of coffee.”
A brand-new animal sanctuary is being constructed for the birds and reptiles that now live at flower shop, Ashleigh’s Garden.
“They’re rescued from either abuse or abandonment, neglect,” says Sloane, speaking of many parrots and reptiles.
Sloane is looking for grants and donations to help her vision come together, as she helps to create a place where preservation and care are paramount.
“There’s something for everyone, so, people should come, volunteer, just come in and have fun,” she says.
There are future plans for animal programs and guided tours along a historic trail
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