Southington Landscape in Transition

The Southington portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is actively undergoing change. The”Rails to Trails” pathway is 4.1 miles in length and spans distance between the Cheshire/Southington town line north to Hart Street in Southington.

Asbestos was removed from Ideal Forging at High and  Center Streets May 4, 2015. According to the Record-Journal report, Weston Solutions Inc., supervised the initial 2013 cleanup when the bulk of hazardous materials such as oils, manufacturing chemicals, acids and florescent tubes were removed in 2013. Site cleanup required specific demolition permits from the state for asbestos removal.

Peck, Stow & Wilcox was located in Southington and employed over 1000 workers spanning decades dating back to 1785-1795 under iterations of the combined names, Roys & Wilcox, Solomon Stew and Seth Peck.

The development of the Linear Trail is such a positive addition to Southington. The flat trail is a great use of open space and provides a resource for exercise enthusiasts: a win-win for all. It seemed a natural fit to look at the surrounding areas and plan for the removal of vacant buildings such as Ideal Forging and nearby empty factories. The Hartford Courant reported New York developer Meridian Development Partners Southington purchased The Ideal Forging property in 2005. The recession delayed a retail-residential complex project slated for the 14-acre parcel. The wait is over and signs of change are seen throughout the landscape.

Piles of rock wait to be taken away while blocking the view from homes that line the trail. Rusted metal artifacts truly look the part of relic technology. That view will continue to evolve as debris is replaced by new construction. It will be interesting to see how the integrity and idyllic feeling of open space the trail currently offers will blend with that of a mixed use space site plan.

Another factor to consider is crowd logistics. Southington is best known for its annual Apple Harvest Festival with a 5K run, the yearly Italian-American street fair, weekly music on The Green concerts and big turn outs for parades.  With new housing situated so close to populated events – be prepared to get your maneuvering skills ready!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Renovation Unearths Signs of The Past

Southington’s Gura Building was originally built in 1925 according to land records. Located at 93 Main St., the brick building was given the name Gura Building to honor the town’s late health director, Dr. George Gura.

The vacated historical site sits adjacent to the Town Green and was saved from the wrecking ball. In 2012 the building would either be sold to a developer, demolished or leased and used by a non-profit. Previously the building was used in a municipal capacity as a town hall annex housing services such as the Finance,  and Community Service departments. Over the course of history, the Gura Building also served as a police station.

A $1-a-year 20-year lease was approved by the town council in July 2014 after the Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) fulfilled a condition set forth by the town to raise 80 percent of estimated renovation costs of $1.27 million. SCAA raised $1.1 million, helped in large part by a $500,000 contribution through the State Bond Commission.

Mary DeCroce, leader and spokeswoman for SCCA,cites the new community arts center will incorporate classrooms, studios and a performance space. Bookmark and visit SCCA’s site, and in particular the Project Update tab, to learn about the events leading up to the renovation and to see the progress underway.

Florian Properties LLC, a local development firm is supervising the project for SCCA, a non-profit arts group. The cold temperatures aren’t stopping the work. The facade front windows are boarded up but will be replaced by new picture windows.

The interior has been been completely gutted out and Thomas Damon-Smith, Project Foreman, has put aside artifacts he found within the building. A huge metal safe will be cleaned and preserved to serve as a keepsake to the building’s history.Other items such as wall calendars look as vibrant today as they must have looked when first rolled out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A crumpled cigarette package reminds us how far we’ve come where smoking is concerned – in 2015 smoking inside is banned from many office buildings. Did employees light up inside the Gura building in years past?

Stay tuned for more photos and if you have your own memorabilia and recollections from either working in the building or what you are looking forward to in its new art capacity, reach out to me at margaretwaage@hotmail.com to share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you and capture your Southington experiences via video interview.

Bare Bones of Home Left Standing

Two abandoned properties on Savage Street in Southington finally met the wrecking ball. All that remains of one structure are the bare essentials – a brick chimney with fireplace intact and an oil tank attached to a solid cement foundation. The houses when they stood, never exhibited a ‘For Sale’ sign, or even for that matter a foreclosure sign. Instead a gradual segue from occupancy to empty occurred over time.

Anatomy of A House

Anatomy of A House

The two homes were side-by-side amongst a well maintained residential neighborhood. Their location was directly across from the Southington Country Club, a public golf course, and adjacent to Mary Our Queen, a Roman Catholic church, both contributors to the beauty of Savage Street which also serves as a popular stretch of pavement for walkers.

How soon will walls return to this forlorn shell? A trip to the accessors office would provide that information. What I like to wonder about is how the properties came to meet their level fate. No factual data will answer that question.

Mary Our Queen

Patience will also provide the transformation that is most likely expected. Brand new houses will replace the empty spots that look out of place. Most likely a hefty price tag will accompany the new construction – not so unusual: pretty price plus scenery equals a win-win for the neighbors. All well and good – but it’s the not knowing who lived there and what happened that I’d like to recall when I walk past the spot where the two houses, now gone, once stood.

Visit earlier post to see these structures: http://seetheidea.biz/2014/07/09/property-valuation-cause-and-effect/