Connecticut Preservation Awards 2008
The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation is pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Connecticut Preservation Awards. The awards recognize outstanding preservation efforts across the state and are intended to highlight the depth and scope of the impact that the preservation of historic resources can have on our communities.They were presented on Monday, April 28th at the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. The winners in each of two categories are listed below.
The Built Environment
Sage-Allen Building, Hartford – Award of Merit
Originally constructed in 1898 and located within downtown Hartford’s Department Store Historic District, the Sage-Allen Building has been restored and converted into 78 luxury apartments and 12,000 square feet of retail space. As part of the restoration, the developer, 18 Temple Street LLC, removed an adjoining structure which had been built in the 1960’s and which masked much of the original façade, and they added new, historically sensitive infill in keeping with the building’s overall aesthetic scheme. Other surrounding buildings on the block which had fallen into severe disrepair were demolished, but in their place, new infill structures, containing apartments and affordable student housing, were constructed on either side of Sage-Allen and given minimal detail such that the original structure would remain the principal feature of interest on the block. Finally, Temple Street was reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic after having been closed off for many years. The finished mixed-use development represents the culmination of ten years of work and a dynamic, historically significant addition to Hartford’s burgeoning downtown scene. Though the development efforts encountered numerous obstacles in the form of legal negotiations, tenant relocations, and environmental complications, this project is proof that historic preservation can play a central role in reviving our state’s urban centers.
Saint Michael’s School, Hartford – Award of Merit
This Colonial Revival building, constructed in 1927, was renovated into 16 units of senior housing and associated common spaces for Grandfamilies Development, which provides affordable housing for grandparents raising their grandchildren. The rehabilitation was approved by the National Park Service, thereby allowing the project to utilize historic tax credits contingent upon its compliance with federal restoration/preservation guidelines. The preservation of the interior masonry, walls, and openings demanded great creativity in producing comfortable apartment layouts that were both completely handicapped accessible and fitted with up-to-date HVAC equipment. Through the implementation of an innovative housing scheme which serves a previously unidentified needy population, an historic building which had sat vacant for over a decade has been given a new life and a humanitarian purpose.
Raymond Library Reference Room Project, East Hartford – Commendation
The Raymond Library, which forms a key element of East Hartford’s Garvan-Carroll National Register District, was constructed in 1889 and underwent significant alterations in 1968, which masked the original character of this Romanesque Revival style building. This project not only restored the Reference Room to its former, pre-1968 architectural glory, exposing, repairing, and refinishing the bead board ceiling and other significant architectural features, but it also significantly increased the available space and functionality of the room as a whole. In particular, it increased public seating, added substantial shelving space, increased the number of computer workstations available to the public by 20, while also providing an elegant and quiet area for study and research. The final result is a beautiful and welcoming public space which befits an historic library of this caliber and will enable it to better serve its 21st century patrons.
Community Service Emily McLaury House Project, Westport – Award of Merit
Under the leadership of First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, the Town of Westport and its Historic District Commission oversaw the restoration of the Emily McLaury House, a 1921 Colonial Revival home in the heart of Westport’s historic district. Not only was the structure converted into affordable employee housing and not only was the entire process made as ‘green’ possible – reusing building materials, recycling appliances, avoiding excessive landscaping – but above all the public was successfully incorporated into the process and educated about the virtues of preservation and re-use. The Commission held five separate open houses during the restoration and also set up a website with continual updates on the progress of the house. In a town which leads the state in per capita teardowns, the Commission admirably demonstrated the way in which preservation can create affordable housing, maintain the historic integrity of a district, and also draw on the “embodied energy” contained within all historic buildings. Most amazing, perhaps, is the fact that the entire project was completed on time and under budget.
Alfred Gonsalves, St. Anthony Chapel Reconstruction, Norwich – Commendation
The St. Anthony Chapel, originally constructed in 1926, is listed on the State Register of Historic Places and constitutes an important symbol for the Cape Verdean community both here in Connecticut and beyond. The tiny chapel was razed with little forewarning in 2004, but with thoughtful planning, careful supervision of the demolition, and a grant from the Connecticut Trust, plans and specifications of the original building were drawn up and important architectural features were salvaged. The commitment that Alfred Gonsalves – who personally oversaw the entire reconstruction – demonstrated throughout the process and his attention to detail serve as powerful reminders that the historic buildings we care for and inhabit are not simply constructed of stone, mortar, and timber, but are composed of the communities they serve, the people who care for them, and the histories they hold within their walls. Thanks to his dedication, the St. Anthony Chapel will continue to serve its community for generations to come.