How does Danbury balance growth with historical, cultural character?


DANBURY – The city has innumerable historical features that add to its character.

The challenge, officials said, is how to use these lots to support the city’s future as Danbury grows.

“Danbury’s growth is almost inevitable,” said Brigid Guertin, executive director of the Danbury Museum and Historical Society. “This is a wonderful thing, this is a positive thing. So how do we balance this with historical assets so that historical assets do not become a burden on the community or a cost to the budget, but in turn support the growth of our Danbury community? “

The conversation was part of a virtual meeting on Tuesday between city guides who developed Danbury’s 10-year master plan, more formally known as the Plan for Conservation and Development. The aim was to see how Danbury’s historical and cultural resources would flow into the city’s long-term goals.

“It’s a really important part of Danbury as a place, part of its history, and so it has to be part of its future,” said Francisco Gomes, senior project manager at FHI Studio, the company that is helping the city with its plan. “So we need to be really proactive in planning to support the conservation effort as best we can, and the (master plan) along with various other mechanisms is a great way to do that.”

The city will likely need to create a unit that will further study Danbury’s cultural and historical assets, Guertin said. Aside from the properties already considered historic, she said she was concerned about the future of about 30 other assets with unique architectural or historical backgrounds.

“We stand on the edge,” said Guertin.

Danbury should focus on buying properties that add value and can be customized to meet community needs, she said. After all, one day the town hall will be too small and cultural organizations will become too big for their rooms, she said.

“It’s really not just about saving this stuff,” said Guertin. “It’s about preserving other assets within the community that will grow into these buildings.”

Some historical buildings have modern uses. These include P. Robinson Fur Cutting, which has been converted into condominium, and Tarrywile Mansion, which is used for events and offices in the 722-acre park.

The Ball and Roller Bearing Company represents the manufacturing history of the city and is used for offices and a church. The 1896 Locust Avenue School – home of the Alternative Center for Excellence – is one of the few 19th-century school buildings still in use in the state. The former library on Main Street, which opened in 1878, houses the Danbury Music Center.

Meanwhile, the city is still debating what to do with Hearthstone Castle, which at the end of the 19th Danbury officials are considering how to fund the restoration of the Octagon House, which the city bought in 2015.

Eleven properties across Danbury are on the National Register of Historic Places, while other properties are listed a. listed in the state’s historical register presentation handed over to the planning committee.

The city has a Main Street Historic District that runs from Elm Street to 34 Main Street. Some off-street lots that are perpendicular to Main Street are part of the district, which had 132 lots, including 97 historically or architecturally significant lots when the district was added to the national register in 1983.

Paul Rotello, minority leader on the city council, noted that it was difficult to fund projects to protect historic structures like Hearthstone Castle.

The city needs to better highlight the value of its historical sites and cultural and social organizations, he said. These assets could create an incentive for companies to come to Danbury, he said.

“Because we’re not just an airport or a freeway or a community 60 miles from New York City,” said Rotello. “But we have our own in-house museums, centers of excellence, and cultural assets that executives are often looking for, not just for themselves when they come here, but to sell the move to their employees and their employees’ families.”

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.