The block party marks the end of day-long festivities planned to celebrate a two-story Victorian house that was saved from demolition and successfully moved from Sigourney Street to Ashley Street. Part of a first-phase effort by NINA to increase homeownership in Asylum Hill, the Queen Anne-style brick house will be restored at its new location and sold at market rate as a single-family house.
"Today''s celebration marks a true victory -- not just for NINA, but for all the residents of Asylum Hill and for the entire city of Hartford," said Ken Johnson, NINA executive director. "Saving this historic home from demolition and preserving it for future homeownership is precisely the type of major impact we hope to continue to have in this neighborhood."
The house, which dates back to the 1890s, was owned by Aetna and was located on Sigourney Street, directly across from Aetna''s headquarters -- a site the company needed to accommodate the demand for additional parking. Rather than demolish the house to make way for parking, Aetna agreed to donate the house to NINA, along with $50,000 to help defray the cost of moving the house. Asylum Hill Ventures LLC donated the lot at 21 Ashley St., and, with $50,000 from the state and another $10,000 from NINA, saving the historic structure became a reality.
"We are very proud to have helped save this historic building. As a long- time member of this Asylum Hill neighborhood, we understand the importance of preserving the city''s architectural gems for future generations. It is part and parcel of being a good neighbor," said Tom Handy, Aetna''s head of Real Estate Services.
The day-long celebration began bright and early Sunday morning, when Aetna officials officially presented the house key to NINA in a symbolic transfer of property ownership that paved the way for the move. At 9 a.m., State Rep. Marie Kirkley-Bey, who was instrumental in garnering support for the state funding, hosted a brunch at The Hartford''s Tower Suite, where guests were treated to a bird''s-eye view of the house as it moved to its new home on Ashley Street. The brunch was emceed by WTIC-AM morning talk-show host Ray Dunaway.
"I am so pleased to see that this beautiful home has been saved from demolition and, even more importantly, preserved for homeownership," said Kirkley-Bey. "This home can now become a positive asset for the neighborhood, a strong symbol of what we can accomplish when we work together."
Throughout the day, Hartford residents gathered alongside streets and at street corners to see the house as it moved slowly along the street, supported by a hydraulic system of wheels, chains and beams that is powered from a nearby console. From Sigourney Street to Farmington Avenue, through Cogswell Street and Garden Street to Ashley Street, residents were cheered to see a piece of the city''s history and know it was on its way to becoming someone''s new home.
"This move and the coordinated efforts that went into it are indicative of the efforts happening throughout the city as we strive to bring people together to build homeownership," said Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez. "All the elements are in place for a successful future and, with increased homeownership, investment and pride in our neighborhoods, Hartford is a great place to live, work, learn and play."
NINA is a non-profit corporation that was launched in 2003 by six Asylum Hill institutions to work with neighborhood groups to boost community reinvestment in the Asylum Hill neighborhood. NINA''s member companies are The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc.; Aetna, Inc.; Massachusetts Mutual Financial Group, Inc.; ING; Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center and Webster Bank.
The house relocation and renovation is part of a plan to renovate five blighted buildings on Ashley Street. This plan is the first phase of a multi- million dollar revitalization initiative proposed for the Ashley-Garden- Sargeant corridor. The overall plan includes the development of 20 owner- occupied homes in the area, streetscape improvements to be completed in partnership with the Ashley Street Pride Block, home improvement loans through Neighborhoods of Hartford, Inc., and public safety initiatives in cooperation with the City of Hartford Police Department.
Contacts: Ken Johnson NINA 860-244-9390 Marnie Goodman The Hartford 860-547-3898 Gene Sheehan Sullivan & LeShane 860-560-0001 (c-phone) 860-214-9222
Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA)