Renovation Uncovers Historic Jewel

A 19th century gem is uncovered behind vinyl siding.

By Debra Bogstie
|  Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012  |  Updated 6:06 PM EDT
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While NINA was renovating a home on Imlay St in Hartford they discovered an historic jewel.

While NINA was renovating a home on Imlay St in Hartford they discovered an historic jewel.

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It looked like an ordinary three-story house in Hartford, but when workers recently began renovating the Imlay Street property they quickly discovered a long-lost 19th century historic jewel.

 

"It was basically a vinyl-sided three-story house, nothing much to look at," said Ken Johnson, the executive director of the Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, which is sponsoring the renovation.

On the outside of the home, shadow lines are visible where ornate window crowns, brackets, and moldings once were. "The shadow lines of what was clearly a grand house here in Hartford," said Johnson.

Next, workers uncovered an actual window crown dating back to the 1870's that was hidden above the ceiling of a porch addition.

Then, inside the home workers found even more treasures buried in the walls, including a flag with 48 stars, a boot, a receipt from the Brown-Thomson Department Store, and a wedding invitation from 1878 with a reception to follow at an "Island Home" in Windsor Locks.

"It was kind of digging for treasure really. It was like, 'Oh, I wonder what this is? I wonder what this is?'" said Ramon Martinez, one of the ServCorps workers who discovered those finds while working on the home. "It's all interesting information, really gives you a lot more history about the house."

Before any of the treasures were discovered, it was thought that the house was modern and likely built in the 1940's or 1950's. Because of that, it was even carved out of the neighborhood's designated historic district, according to NINA.

Now, they've determined that it was actually built back in 1875 by Porter Whiton who also remodeled the Old State House for use as Hartford's former City Hall, according to NINA.

"It was part of the original Nook Farm subdivision, the same subdivision that produced the Mark Twain House, Harriet Beecher Stowe House, so we knew we had something pretty special here," said Johnson.

Now, with funding from nearby Aetna, the house is being restored to its former glory, a three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath single family home full of history.

"It's been amazing. We've never seen anything like this," said Johnson.

Renovations are expected to wrap up at the site next year and NINA plans to sell the home at that point.

They're hoping the new owner will display those relics inside.

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