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Barnes Trust Sets ‘New Direction’ With $635,000 in Grants to Southington

The money will be used for three capital projects each designed to address needs in the areas of improved senior health, community health and wellness, and attention to mental health and substance use.

Credit: Jason Vallee.
Credit: Jason Vallee.
The following is a press release from the Main Street Community Foundation.

With the Main Street Community Foundation’s announcement today of $635,000 in grants to three local non-profits, the Bradley Henry Barnes and Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust is embarking on a brave new direction for the people of Southington.

At a small ceremony held – fittingly – at the Barnes Museum, the Community Foundation reported that the Trust funding will be available to a broader set of nonprofits serving Southington. For the past 40 years, funding was directed only to Bradley Memorial Hospital, now The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

“We are following Bradley Barnes’ clear directions,” explained Susan D. Sadecki, Community Foundation President and CEO. “When the hospital joined a larger network, Trust language required us to explore fresh opportunities.”

Southington Health Study Identifies Significant Challenges

“We had three goals as we set out to ensure the Trust continued to be responsive to community needs,” reported William J. Tracy, Jr., chair of the Trust advisory committee and former chair of the Community Foundation board.

“One, we would show utmost respect for the wishes of the donors, as expressed in the language of the Trust, especially their dedication to Southington. Two, our process would be thoughtful, comprehensive, and creative. And three, we would welcome the ongoing possibility of partnering with the hospital.”

Given the Barnes’ commitment to health care, Sadecki – a former health care executive herself – commissioned consultant Karen Horsch of New Hampshire to research and write “A Study of Community Health and Healthcare Needs” for Southington.

The report is available on the Community Foundation’s website: www.mainstreetfoundation.org.

Horsch noted that Southington residents urged the community address the following:

  • Accessibility and affordability of health care
  • Services/programs to address substance use and mental health needs
  • Supports to meet the health and health needs of an aging population
  • Better integrated health care
  • More community education about existing services

Using study’s results, Community Foundation requested proposals; distributes $635,000 for three local projects, including Hospital Armed with the results of the health study, members of the Trust’s advisory committee worked closely with the staff of the Community Foundation to outline a one-year “transition” grants program. The Community Foundation issued the Trust’s first-ever request for proposals to selected nonprofits already focusing in the areas identified in the study.

“For this cycle especially, we focused on capital projects in health care to support existing programs,” said Tracy.

The first three grants under the new format, announced at the ceremony, are:

  • $300,000 to the Southington YMCA, to purchase and install an elevator that would enable people to use the swimming pool.
  • $185,000 to Central Connecticut Senior Health Services, to implement a new medical records system.
  • $150,000 to the Hospital of Central Connecticut, Bradley Campus, to buy a portable echocardiograph machine with a vascular probe.


“I think Mr. and Mrs. Barnes would be very pleased,” Sadecki concluded.

About the Trust and Bradley and Leila Barnes


The Bradley Henry Barnes and Leila Upson Barnes Memorial Trust was established in 1973 at the Southington Bank and Trust Company upon the death of Mr. Barnes. It was transferred to the Main Street Community Foundation in 2004. Its current assets stand at just over $18 million.

The Trust called for annual income to be distributed to the Bradley Memorial Hospital for new capital projects as long as the hospital remained independent. A Barnes ancestor had founded the hospital. When it became The Hospital of Central Connecticut, the Trust language instructed trustees to direct income to non-profits, with a strong preference for the “benefit and betterment” of Southington.

Bradley Barnes (1883-1973) and his family are long associated with Southington and Connecticut. His earliest known ancestor, Stephen Barnes, settled in Branford in the 1600s. His grandfather Amon Bradley owned extensive property in Southington, and his father Norman owned a controlling interest in Atwater Manufacturing Company, where Bradley attended his first stockholders meeting at age 11. The company began as a maker of carriage parts but eventually switched over to automobiles.

Bradley graduated from Lewis High School and the Pequod Business School in Meriden. In 1902, he went to work for Atwater as an office assistant and stenographer. Eight years later, he was named vice president. He became co-owner upon his father’s death in 1911, but sold his interest and retired from Atwater in 1930. Thereafter he was director of multiple companies and banks.

In 1910, Bradley married childhood playmate Leila Holcomb Upson, daughter of a local grocery store owner. The announcement in the New Haven Evening Register reported, “the groom is the wealthiest man in town, while the bride is about the fairest of Southington’s daughters.”

The couple moved into the 15-room house built by his grandfather Amon in 1836. The couple was particularly known for their gardens and goblets.

Though Bradley was involved in civic endeavors in Hartford and Guilford, where the couple had a summer home, he was most active in Southington. He sold war bonds during World War 1, was a trustee of Bradley Memorial Hospital, and served on the Southington Club, YMCA, and Chamber of Commerce. The Southington Union Club named him their Gold Club Awardee in 1954.

Leila died in 1952 at age 67, and Bradley – reportedly devastated – locked her bedroom and left the house unchanged until his own death 21 years later at the age of 90. He donated the house to the town upon his death. It became the Barnes Museum.

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