WEST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In a building painted in camouflage, right across from the West Haven train station, sits a museum rich with military history. The West Haven Veteran’s Museum and Learning Center first opened its doors six years ago.
Frank Chasney is the museum’s president and has worked there since day one.
“The museum runs on a timeline and it starts with the Revolutionary War. We have a photograph of Benedict Arnold and we have a uniform here that was used in the movie ‘The Patriot,'” said Chasney.
Most of the museums exhibits are donations, and much of it has Connecticut ties. Items include a french 75 millimeter Howitzer, used extensively in the first World War.
“At the beginning of the war, Yale was training the american artillery officers and the french sent four of these canons to Yale as a gift. This is the last one. The others have all been scrapped,” said Chasney.
Another treasured item is a picture of Stubby, a war dog that is credited with saving thousands of lives.
“He could smell the poison gas way before the troops could and he would start barking and acting up and the would put their gas masks on,” said Chasney.
Stubby served alongside the Yankee Division in World War One.
Chasney is particularly fond of a special room at the back of the museum. It’s a room dedicated entirely to the New Haven Grays, a militia unit organized in 1816.
“Our people moved this room board by board from the Goffe Street Armory and we have all of the Gray’s memorabilia in here,” said Chasney.
The museum is run entirely by volunteers. It’s free to the public and is open Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11-3:30 and Saturday from 10-2:30.
“I think people should come down here to the museum. This is the best kept secret in West Haven and we want to open it up to everybody,” said museum VP Gordon Bergman.
“People come in and they see things and they say, you know, they lost a son or something and they would say this is closure for me. So, I think we do some good. Hopefully,” said Chasney