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Haddam Historical Society Newsletter: June 2015

Submitted by Elizabeth Malloy.

This week I am writing about something very important to me- the preservation of our community’s historic buildings.

There is currently an application with Planning & Zoning for a new 24 hour gym structure at 85 Bridge Street. The proposal calls for demolishing the current structure, a circa 1810 Federal period dwelling built by David Shailer.  I feel that destroying our community’s historic features can only degrade the quality of life in Haddam and destroy our town’s rural and historic character and sense of place. Our Board of Directors agreed and a letter was submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission voicing concern. We realize that many people will not agree with this position and it is not the organization’s intent to prohibit commercial development but to encourage growth and development in a thoughtful and conscientious manner which protects and incorporates our town’s historic assets.

The benefits of preserving the Shailer-Banning House are many.  There are clear and documented examples of the benefits of preserving historic buildings in a commercial district. In addition, Bridge Street (Route 82) is the gateway to the riverfront and historic East Haddam and we encourage the town to create a plan which uses the current historic resources to create a cohesive, well designed access.

We hope that the developer could evaluate options for adaptive re-use or incorporate the historic structure into their proposal. There are financial incentives available to support rehabilitation and adaptive reuse and multiple organizations available to help the owner including the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and the State Historic Preservation Office.

We hope the Planning and Zoning Commission will work with the owner and developer to determine whether there are prudent and feasible alternatives to demolition.

In the meantime the Society is petitioning the Board of Selectmen to call a Town Meeting to enact an ordinance for the Delay of Demolition per Connecticut General Statutes Section 29-406 to encourage the preservation of architecturally and historically significant buildings in the Town of Haddam.  This ordinance will allow a period of time for concerned citizens to work with property owners to look at preservation, restoration, rehabilitation or relocation as a alternatives to demolition.  A draft of the Demolition Delay Ordinance will be posted on our web site:
Bridge street
This past Saturday members, friends and residents celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Thankful Arnold House Museum. Highlights of the day included a presentation of a N. Starr Sword made in Haddam in 1808 and the ribbon cutting of our newly restored grape arbor.  Our Scholarship Committee including Mr. Chillin’ and Mr. Grillin’ provided lunch to raise funds for the high school scholarship. There were crafts and demonstrations under the tent including making butter with Education Coordinator Sarah Neal, writing with a quill pen with Sue Oehl and making a lavender sachet with our intern Laura Schneider. Music was provided by Bruce Major and later by Bill Stumpf and friends.
We celebrated with cake and champagne and hosted friends from near and far and officially cut the ribbon to the grape arbor which has been name in honor ofMary Hugh Arnold Scott, the daughter of Isaac Arnold who was responsible for the restoration of the museum.  We would like to thank everyone who contributed to the arbor restoration and who worked to make the project a success.  Thank you to Deb Rutter and Melissa Gibson who spearheaded the project, Tiger Carlson who was our master craftsman and Rogene and Stewart Gillmor who generously donated the cedar posts.

Garden STILL needs watering volunteers!

We are STILL looking for volunteers to water the museum gardens from now through August. We offer weekly slots from Monday through Sunday. If you are able to volunteer for a week please email Lisa at [email protected] with dates available.


  • JULY 5
  • JULY 19
  • JULY 26
  • AUGUST 2
  • AUGUST 9
  • AUGUST 30

4 Responses to Haddam Historical Society Newsletter: June 2015

  1. Nancy Worthington

    June 27, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Lovely building. Would be a shame to tear it down. Would be a great B and B. Gym should go somewhere else!

  2. Susann Costa

    June 27, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    The petition mentioned in the above article will be available to sign 6/28 Sunday 12-4:00 at The Thankful Arnold House Museum…please add your name to the growing list of names.You do need to be a registered voter.Thank you for your consideration.
    Sue Costa
    Haddam Historical Society

  3. Dr. Joseph Zaientz

    June 29, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    The gym would be better on Rte 81 in the vacant building next to the new pharmacy.

  4. Ed Munster

    June 30, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Incorporating the historic building into a new use without destroying its historic value is a good choice for any community. Hopefully town officials can find a way to make this happen in this case. Economic development and retaining the fabric of our town can take place at the same time and needs to be encouraged.