The Hartford Preservation Alliance was invited to appear this week before the West Hartford Historic District Commission to express its thoughts and opinions about the impending demolition of an iconic bungalow-styled house at the intersection of Albany Avenue and North Steele Road. We, of course, joined the majority of those attending in voicing our opinion that 2022 Albany Avenue is an important property for the neighborhood and the town and should be saved.
The West Hartford Historic Commission has jurisdiction over three local historic districts (Buena Vista, Boulevard-Raymond and West Hill) and eight individual properties. Their reach DOES NOT extend to any other West Hartford property listed on the State or National Registers of Historic Places.
Maybe now is the time for that to change.
Hartford was the first municipality in the Connecticut to enact a city-wide Historic Preservation Ordinance (HPO) which created the Hartford Historic Preservation Commission and gave it oversight powers over any Hartford property listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places. For nearly ten years, the HPO has provided real and concrete protection to the historic treasures of the city and has far exceeded all expectations that it would
protect the unique architectural nature of the city’s historic neighborhoods, so as to enhance the appeal and attractiveness of the city, promote rehabilitation and property maintenance, strengthen the city’s economy, and foster neighborhood pride. (Historic Preservation Ordinance Section 28-211)
The benefits of such an ordinance include:
- adherence to approved Guidelines for Renovations and Additions to Historic Buildings
- preservation of the unique architectural fabric of the property and its surroundings
- prevention of the indiscriminate and wanton demolition of architecturally significant buildings
- new construction within a district that is sympathetic and compliments the historic character of the neighborhood
The Connecticut Legislature has enacted enabling legislation to allow for any city or town in Connecticut to create a preservation commission. To date, New Britain, Bristol and Milford have put historic preservation ordinances and commissions in place.
The best case scenario is that the current owner of 2022 Albany Avenue will split off this gem of a house and sell it to a party that will renovate and repair her back to life (and yeah, we’ve got a tax credit for that!). If demolition does proceed, let us hope that the residents take a stand and act to protect the many, many other buildings and sites that represent the historic character of West Hartford.
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