As you review the staff proposal of work to be approved by the Hartford Historic Preservation Commission at 97 Williams Street, it is somewhat puzzling. There are several pictures of a two-family house, quite attractive, surrounded but large, mature trees. It is a picture taken in the summer so the trees have their leaves and the property looks really good. Well, maybe the porches could use some attention because they look as if someone has kind of knocked them around and columns and rails are somewhat askew. The property is attractive with nice porches set on either side of the building and are painted a nice color. Then the reality sets in as you read the request for approval.
The applicant, 97 Williams Street. LLC, headed by Sohodra Dilchard , is requesting permission to complete a total renovation and repair of the building which has been significantly damaged by fire. On closer inspection we realize that a fire has basically eliminated the third floor. (link to images). Damage has been extensive throughout the property and will require a significant investment to return this two-family to a productive homeownership opportunity. Yet Sohodra, who has good experience in renovating properties in Upper Albany Avenue, has stepped up to bring a team to make the house whole once again. She has done several similar projects and is convinced that 97 Williams Street is a keeper. (Unfortunately this includes asking the homeless person who lives on the damaged porch to move along.) Her team has experience with tackling properties in such dire straits and they have been successful in turning these around. She hired Bob Hurd, The Architects, our neighbor here at 56 Arbor Street, to guide her through the process of restoring the original exterior fabric of the house to include wood shingles, wood windows and the front porches which are truly nice. She intends to utilize the State’s Homeowner Historic Tax Credit. Our role has been to review the plans and to give our blessing as the project is put before the Historic Commission. I am happy to say that the petition passed with unanimous support!
In writing I want to once again give a shout out to the City’s Department of Development Services for engaging and supporting entrepreneurs like 97 Williams Street, LLC who are dedicated to improving our neighborhoods. Step-by-step renovation projects which attempt to preserve and protect neighborhoods are critical actions that contribute to the future of Hartford. Their commitment needs our collective admiration and support.
Please continue to follow the progress that we will witness at 97 Williams Street. We at the Preservation Alliance invite property owners to seek out our technical assistance to offer advice and guidance as they tackle their properties.
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