Research, writing, photography of National and State Register of Historic Places nominations
Review and update of older National or State Register Historic Districts
Coordination with state and federal agencies
Village Creek Historic District, Norwalk, CT (1949-1965)
The Village Creek Historic District meets National Register Criterion A at the state level because of the Village Creek Home Owners Association’s deed restrictions and prospectus which included pioneering statements barring discrimination. At a time when most deed restrictions sought to exclude certain ethnic, racial or religious groups, Village Creek actively recruited them as homeowners. Village Creek is also significant under Criterion A because of common ownership of open spaces, design review and other aspects of its planning and design that place it in the continuum of American suburban residential subdivisions.
Village Creek is significant under Criterion C at the state level, because nearly all of the buildings in it embody the distinctive characteristics of the Modern and Contemporary style. Most of the houses in the proposed district are architect designed; there are seven examples of prefabricated construction. Many of these homes have changed somewhat over time as families grew and extra bedrooms and other additions were needed. The overall scale, massing and setbacks have been maintained throughout, resulting in a district still has the distinct look and feel of a community of the 1950s that has chosen to express its forward thinking ideals through architecture as well as social action.
Bushnell-Dickinson House, Old Saybrook, CT (1790)
The Bushnell-Dickinson House is significant locally under Criterion C because of its architecture. It is a well-preserved example of a late eighteenth century Georgian colonial house. It was built circa 1790 and it retains a high degree of architectural integrity. Its gambrel roof and the relatively high level of its exterior trim distinguishes it from is plainer neighbors of the same period on Old Post Road. This house was built by Phineas Bushnell, a member of one of the oldest families in Old Saybrook. His descendants married into the Dickinson family, which was active in local and state politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Bushnell and Dickinson families owned and occupied this house from the time it was built until it was sold out of the family in 1934. The house underwent a sympathetic renovation in 1958, which added bathrooms, closets and a modern kitchen, but preserved the original plan and structure, as well as significant architectural features.
Allen House, Westport, CT (1957)
The Allen House is significant statewide under Criterion C because it embodies the distinctive characteristics of the International Style, possesses high artistic values and is the work of an accomplished architect of the Modern Movement as well as a prominent garden designer of the era.
Architect Leroy “Bud” Binkley (1922-1994), who practiced under the name of Roy Binkley, attended the Illinois Institute of Technology from 1941 to 1945 where he studied with former Bauhaus Director, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. After graduation, Binkley worked in the office of Chicago Modern architect Paul Schweiker, who later became the Dean of the Yale School of Architecture. Much of Schweiker’s domestic work at that time was influenced by the designs of Marcel Breuer and Binkley added these ideas to his Miesian education when he began to design buildings on his own.
Garden Designer Frank Masao Okamura (1911-2006) was born in Japan, came to the United States as a teen-ager and built a successful gardening business in Los Angeles before World War II. He lost his business when he, along with his wife and daughters, were in interned in the Manzanar Relocation Camp for the duration of the war. They moved to New York after their release and Mr. Okamura held several menial jobs before he began working at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden in 1947. He was first put in charge of the Japanese garden which had been vandalized during the war and was in poor condition. He managed to completely restore the garden and, while working on it, became interested in the bonsai collection. He eventually became a world-famous teacher and authority on bonsai. In 1981, the Emperor of Japan awarded Mr. Okamura an Order of the Sacred Treasure medal for his work in furthering knowledge of bonsai. Mr. Okamura also took some private landscaping commissions, which included the 1967 landscaping (with Charles Middeleer)of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1956 Tirranna/Rayward House in New Canaan, Connecticut as well as the Allen House. Figure 5 shows some of his original landscaping in the courtyard.
Restmore, Southport, CT (1912)
Restmore is significant under Criterion C. It is a rare, mostly intact, example of a locally unusual architectural style by master architect Ehrick Kensett Rossiter. It and the nearby former servants quarters (also designed by Rossiter) for the Restmore estate are perhaps the only Cape Dutch Colonial Revival buildings in Connecticut. Restmore is exceptionally well executed and retains a high degree of integrity. Restmore is also significant under Criterion B since it was built as the summer residence of Dr. Ira DeVer Warner and his wife Eva Follett Warner. Dr. Warner was a founder of Warner Brothers, which became the United States’ most successful corset and ladies underwear manufacturer in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century. The company still exists as Warnaco Group, Inc. and it still uses the Warner’s brand name, as well as other well-known international brands. Warner left a lasting legacy in Bridgeport, Connecticut by organizing its first water company, gas company, country club and YMCA. He also served on the board of his church and two banks as well as local and regional corporations. He rose from being a poor farm boy to a millionaire industrialist who played golf with John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and who counted President Grover Cleveland and P. T. Barnum among his friends. Warner participated in the Reform Movement in the late nineteenth century by improving working conditions for his employees and commissioning the Seaside Institute, an impressive building for the recreation of the female workers from his Warner Brothers corset factories in Bridgeport.
High Street Historic District, Clinton CT (1710-1958)
The High Street Historic District is significant locally under Criterion A because it illustrates the growth and evolution of residential and industrial development along two streets over a two hundred fifty year period. It includes the former residences of some of Clinton’s most prominent sea captains and the factory complex of one of the town’s largest employers. Early homes were farm houses built on isolated lots, but the area became more residential after the construction of High Street, which was built as a turnpike in 1813. This was the only turnpike constructed in Clinton and it opened a land connection between Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River. The road seems to have had little economic impact on the town during its thirty-seven year period of operation, but it did provide an opportunity for building new residences in an area that had previously been open fields. Some of the most stylish houses in the district were built after the abandonment of the turnpike by sea captains and others involved in Clinton’s maritime trade. The Unilever-Pond’s Company has been located in the district since 1888 and it employed many residents of the area until the factory closed at the end of 2012. The District is significant locally under Criterion C for its collection of well-preserved homes built in the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the Pond’s headquarters building constructed in 1929 in the Art Deco style and its later industrial additions.
Sturges Wright House, Westport, CT (c.1764)
The Sturges Wright House and studio are significant statewide under Criterion B for their association with artist George Hand Wright, who was considered among the best book and magazine illustrators of the early twentieth century. He is also known for his work in watercolor and pastel, as well as his award-winning etchings. The house is also locally significant under Criterion C as an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Connecticut house which has evolved from a simple two story, two room Colonial structure, to a two story, four room Georgian house and finally to an expanded Colonial Revival Saltbox. Many elements of the house are essentially unchanged from its construction in the middle of the eighteenth century and it has retained architectural elements from all of its developmental periods.
Burrall Belden House, Falls Village, CT (c.1787)
The Burrall-Belden House is significant locally under Criterion C because it is a well preserved example of an eighteenth century Connecticut house which evolved over almost two hundred years. The building began as a temporary log cabin built by farmers, but it eventually became the elegant home of a judge. It shows changing tastes in domestic architecture with both an unornamented Georgian farmhouse façade and a Federal façade. Its outbuildings, one of which served as a law school and law office, remain unchanged on their original sites. The house was owned by the Burralls, a prominent local family, for over a century a century and a half. It was later owned by photographer and teacher Clarence H. White, who held summer sessions of his highly influential Clarence White School of Modern Photography at this house from 1919 until his death in 1925.