297 Fairfield Avenue: Is There Anything Right With This Picture?

297 Fairfield southview

The Situation:

  • Fairfield Avenue National Historic District is established in 2011
  • Three-family is purchased in August 2013; owner looks up and down the street to determine that most all properties have been re-sided with vinyl or aluminum
  • Hires a contractor who claims to have obtained permits to replace original windows and doors and to re-side the residence – sadly not the case
  • Work begins with inexpensive materials with no thought to preserving and retaining the architectural details of the house.
  • Stop-Work order issued by the City with 1/3 of the house sided
  • Owner meets with city staff to discuss options and no agreement can be reached
  • Case brought before Hartford Historic Commission with recommendation that owner begin again and restore wood siding and replace current doors with ones which are appropriate
  • At hearing owner is required to listen, practically with hat in hand, while commission discusses their feelings on what should happen.  (Owner is literally standing during the entire lengthy discussion)
  • Commission is unable to decide what it feels best to require so denies owner any option to proceed other than restoration, the cost of which no one knows.  Owner claims to have already spent money and has no access to sufficient funds to restore exterior as desired.
  • Owner is dismissed297 Fairfield front
  • House remains in limbo with no direction on how to proceed
  • Neighborhood “on fire” about the issue

Why write about this?  Hartford Preservation Alliance was created to protect the historic fabric of the city and has done a fine job to date.  HPA is working on a new strategic plan, one which holds promise to mitigate the standoff on Fairfield Avenue.  With broad-based consensus, the plan brings relevance to historic preservation in addressing practical situations as described here.

Join us next time for 297 Fairfield Avenue: The Solution