Watching the facade removed at 222 Main St., a five story 66,570-square foot building that was built in 1885, was bittersweet for Christopher and Peggy Porter.
The building was formerly owned by B.C. Porter, who used it primarily for retail purposes. Before the Porter family sold the property in 1985, it was known as the B. C. Porter and Sons Furniture Store, whose quality of work and craftsmanship was held in high regards. In recent years, the building was referred as the “BD’s Building” or “ND Building.”
“The building was the second building that B.C. Porter owned and we bought it in 1889,” said Christopher Porter. “Originally the furniture store and the funeral home were one half and one half on the first floor.”
Porter’s Funeral Home later moved to 19 Court Street and is now located in 111 Chamberlain Highway in Berlin.
“In the the 1960’s D&L put up their blue and white facade. My brother was trying to revitaize New Britain so he put up that facade,” said Porter. “Everyone else was moving out of New Britain and he was trying to keep people here. We never liked the metal facade, but his intentions were good.”
Underneath the corrugated metal sheathing was beautiful brick architecture and original window panes and casings, similar to other iconic buildings seen throughout the downtown New Britain area—which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Mayor Erin E. Stewart said this is a historic day for downtown New Britain.
“To see one of the most iconic buildings come to life again is going to be a very exciting thing to see.,” said Stewart. “This is another example of a developer feeling invigorated by the work the City of New Britain is undertaking, particularly in our downtown, and wanting to make an investment in our community. I look forward to the continued transformation of our downtown.”
Developer Dan Czyzewski, owner of Exclusive Development, plans a total restoration of the building; 50-plus housing units are planned, along with retail space on the first floor.
Stewart said selling the building to Czyzewski was a no-brainer as he has redeveloped other houses in New Britain including 116 West St.
“I feel that the City of New Britain is moving in the right direction and its proximity to CTfastrak was an important factor,” Czyzewski remarked. “We are looking at a two year project.”
“Development is happening building by building. With the development of new units on Main St. and West Main St. we are going to have more housing units,” added Stewart. “It’s all going to in the rejuvenation.”