New Britain City Journal

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Downtown to be Nominated as Historic District

On Dec. 7 the Downtown Historic District will be reviewed in order to become a member of the National Register of Historic Places.

The meeting will be at the State Historic Preservation Office in Hartford.

The nomination includes areas of Arch St, Basset St., Columbus Blvd, Court sat, Franklin Square Park, Franklin Square, Glen St., High St. Main St. South Main St., Walnut St.. Washington St., Webster St, West Main St, West Pearl St and Whiting St.

“The City through this historic preservation commission is demonstrating its commitment to the premise of a historic and architectural preservation efforts will help to increase individual property values, improve our downtown neighborhoods and encourage economic growth and revitalize the City’s downtown and business area,” said Margaret Malinowski, chair of the New Britain Historic Preservation Commission.

On Monday night Jennifer Scofield of the State Historic Preservation Office, spoke for about 30 minutes describing what the processes for historic designation means.

The State Historic Preservation Office is responsible for overseeing the government program of historic preservation for Connecticut. This involves identifying, recognizing and protecting historical resources throughout the state as well as responding to several federal and state laws. The office is 50 years old.

“In New Britain there are eight National Register Listings that include three districts,” said Scofield. “The City Hall Monument area, Walnut Hill and the West End.”

The National Register is an official list of Historic Places that are significant for American culture. It is a National Park Service Program.

“It is recognition of the properties that make the places that we identify with,” said Scofield. “It’s an honorary recognition meant to understand and celebrate our culture and physical landscape around us.”

There are almost 1 million listings on the National Register and Connecticut has over 51,000 listings.

National Register Listed Properties can be buildings, sites, structures, objects or districts. Can be residential, commercial, industrial or rural landscapes.

“They are properties that we identify to be significant to American History, architecture engineering or structure,” said Scofield. “It’s goal is to get people excited about the places around you.”

Business owners in the community voiced concerns about limitations and costs associated to sticking to what the district would now require.

Commission members said “the purpose is not to prohibit people, but to aid people through the processes.”

The local district is the commission that restricts or makes historic rules and regulations.

“We want to be a resource. We want to encourage you to do the things we think are consistent,” said Steve Schiller, City Planner. “We hope to guide you in that direction. We will not go out of our way to be absolute purists.”

The New Britain Preservation Ordinance was signed into law in September of 2011 to help property owners preserve and improve the appearance and architectural character of their buildings when they make repairs or improvements.

For more information on the New Britain’s Preservation Ordinance residents can call the planning division of the Department of Municipal Development at 860-826-3430.