53 Wadsworth: An Entirely Different Approach

In February the Preservation Alliance will publish what we believe to be “The Ten Most Endangered Buildings” in Hartford.  Among the structures we cite are Hartford’s Italianates collectively.  Last week’s challenge was to prevent the City from demolishing 220 High Street.  This week I write about an altogether different project which we are working with to protect and preserve one of these fine iconic buildings.

2When Catholic Charities built their Institute for the Hispanic Family building on Wadsworth Street, their plans included demolition of the adjacent Italianate building. For a long time 53 Wadsworth Street sat vacant and abandoned.  It contributes to a streetscape of several houses along Wadsworth Street which once must have been magnificent.  HPA advocated for its preservation alongside the South Downtown NRZ, the City planning department and the State Historic Preservation Office and the Catholic Charities board decided to proceed without demolition. Nearly eight years later this building will now be renovated and returned to the neighborhood.   

Recently we were contacted by Smith, Edwards, McCoy Architects to consult on Catholic Charities’ application to generate State Historic Tax Credits.  They wanted to fill a gap in the project cost by utilizing tax credits.  Attempting to do this on their own was frustrating, the process was more cumbersome than expected.  Tyler Smith called and asked if we could help.  Absolutely was our response.  With our increasing capacity to provide technical assistance we now are engaged with the application process with the State Historic Preservation Office.  If successful our work will help to generate roughly one-third of the cost with funds raised by tax credits.

Our direction is new.  We are engaged in a unique role, one which for us is a priority activity incorporated in the HPA’s Strategic Plan. We are determined to be a robust partner in providing technical assistance to property owners in Hartford.  Not only are we available to offer advice but offer a link to a data bank of materials and contractors.  We hired an architect, Valerio Giadone, who offers professional preservation advice.

53 Wadsworth is yet another example of how “beyond repair and too expensive to save” more often than not can become preserved, saved, adapted and reused.