181 Main Street
Danbury, CT 06810
Quality, comfort and satisfaction
Feel it every day
The fire destroyed the northeast corner of Main and Liberty streets, forced dozens of people out of apartments and closed several businesses, including Made in Connecticut, Danbury Municipal Federal Credit Union, O’Faia’s Restaurant catering business and Mental Health Associates of Connecticut. Most of these business reopened in other buildings after the fire.
The important downtown corner was left vacant since 1995 as the new building was planned.
Aurora and Guilherme Bernardino reopened in a much smaller space, less than 3,000-square-feet, at 181 Main St., where the store is today. The new, 9,000-square-foot furniture store is expected to open next month, Aurora Bernardino said. The store carries couches, love seats, desks and all manner of home furnishings.
“The new store will be much more attractive. There is no space to create displays where we are,” she said.
“It’s a gateway intersection,” said Mark Nolan, chairman of the downtown promotions and tax district, CityCenter Danbury. “They made a personal investment to a significant corner. They’ve managed to survive as a family business in heavy weather. They have a following.”
While the ground floor will be Bernardino’s Furniture, the second floor is the expanded law offices of Ventura Ribeiro & Smith, a law firm with seven attorneys and a staff of 20 people.
“We think the location, being part of downtown, is the best way to serve our clients,” said Agostinho Ribeiro, a partner in the firm. “This is the center of Danbury. It’s retail. It’s professional. It’s bringing people downtown.”
Aurora and Guilherme Bernardino were born in Portugal and now live in Danbury. They founded the business in July 1975. Today, they are senior citizens. Aurora Bernardino said deciding to rebuild after the catastrophic fire was difficult.
“It was a hard decision to make, but we like the location. It’s the best location in Danbury,” Aurora Bernardino said. She hopes to leave the building to her daughter. The corner of Main and Liberty streets is diagonally across from the Danbury Public Library.
“My hat’s off to them. They reclaimed and expanded a business that was destroyed by fire. It’s been long awaited, but the furniture store and the law offices will bring life back to that corner,” said Stephen Bull, president of the Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce. “They have over a quarter of a century of success in a very competitive business.”
The new store has parking in the back of the building, another advantage over the company’s temporary location.
© 2000, Robert Iovino