70 Years Later, Putnam Street Reborn

Melissa Bailey PhotoSeven decades after she moved from Putnam Street to West Haven, Marie Gagliardi returned to the house she grew up in to see years of decay reversed.

“You did a beautiful job,” Gagliardi (at right in photo) told Mayor John DeStefano (at left) Tuesday morning.

Gagliardi showed up to a ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday celebrating a $3.2 million government-funded makeover of Putnam Street, where she lived in the 1930s and 40s.

The city is rehabbing three homes along that street and building another four. Each two-family house will be sold to owners who will agree to live in half of the building and rent out the other half. The project, which will create 22 units of housing on a two-block area, is being paid for by $1.6 million in city money and $1.6 million federal neighborhood stabilization funds. The project includes seven houses the city is directly fixing up, as well as three being renovated by Mutual Housing/ Neighborworks with federal money. It’s all part of a larger effort to rescue houses abandoned by the Hill Development Corporation when the not-for-profit housing agency went belly-up.

Gagliardi moved into 197 Putnam in the 1930s at age 2. Her dad, Pasqual DelMonaco, was an insurance agent for Metropolitan Life. Young Marie attended the former Horace Day School around the corner. Her family was one of many Italian-American families that populated the area at that time. He raised seven kids there, she said. Gagliardi recalled that her mother, a “neatnik” like herself, used to make her polish the mahogany bannister every Saturday.

The city wasn’t always planning to save her house: It sought to tear it and two others down, before historic preservationists stepped in and halted the demolition.

Melissa Bailey File PhotoJust last summer, her former home looked like a boarded-up dump (pictured). Then Brownstone Contracting Company of Old Saybrook won a competitive bidding process to rehab 138, 181 and 197 Putnam.

On Tuesday, she returned with a portrait of her home and compared them. She pronounced the facade restored to historic accuracy—all except for a stained-glass window, which was not replaced.

Joe O’Donnell of Brownstone Contracting said Gagliardi’s home and the two others on Putnam should be fully rehabbed by the end of June. His company is also building four homes on the street; those should be done by May 1, 2014, he said. O’Donnell invited a crowd of city employees and neighbors into 181 Putnam (pictured) for a reception after the groundbreaking.

Brownstone hired Ellen Cessario, a personal chef from Meriden, to cater the event with hummus-and-pita sandwiches, seafood salad, and Italian rollups.

The city plans to sell the homes for a starting price of $150,000 to $160,000, according to Erik Johnson (at right in photo), director of the city’s Livable City Initiative. The homes will be sold to families with an income not higher than 120 percent of the area median income, which is $97,080 for a family of four.

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posted by: TheMadcap on April 30, 2013  4:49pm

I’m glad they’re doing two family houses and didn’t fall into the desire for one family detachments. Also that pita looks delicious.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on April 30, 2013  4:49pm

Snake-Oil being sold.These houses within 5 years will be underwater.

posted by: Stephen Harris on April 30, 2013  5:31pm

This looks like very good work! I love these old houses because the schlock (I hope I spelled that right) that gets built today is depressing.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on April 30, 2013  5:56pm

Overall this looks like a great rehabilitation project and I look forward to seeing what the new construction will look like. I do, however, have a question about the different window configurations displayed in the before and after photos - what was the basis for the decision to replace the 2-over-2 configuration with 6-over-6? Were the 2-over-2 windows a replacement to the original windows, or was the 2-over-2 configuration original, but 6-over-6 were chosen for other reasons (availability, price, etc.)?

posted by: anonymous on April 30, 2013  8:46pm

Three fifths, $150,000 is a pretty good deal for a brand new, energy-efficient house with a rental unit. If the new owner uses their rental income to maintain the house in good condition, it’s unlikely that they’ll go underwater. 

Or are you talking about sea level rise?  This house will probably go underwater, but probably not for a couple more centuries.

posted by: AMDC on May 1, 2013  5:55am

The house will go underwater because it will be sold to target buyers who do not know how to be homeowners or landlords.  Unless the taxpayers continue subsidising private owners,  the new folks will lose the house.  This is just what happened in the 80’s when low-income/target buyers were put in houses to profit the bankers. It was a tragedy then and it will be again.  Plus,  the materials used today will never stand up the way the old-time materials and workmanship di!!

posted by: TheMadcap on May 1, 2013  12:40pm

Ah, so the poor are stupid, and irresponsible, got it.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on May 1, 2013  1:56pm


“The city is rehabbing three homes along that street and building another four. Each two-family house will be sold to owners who will agree to live in half of the building and rent out the other half.”

This is going to be owner-occupied, not a rental property of an absentee landlord.

Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven offers classes for home owners on routine maintenance of houses including window and plaster repair, basic plumbing, electrical and mechanical repair, and home beautifying like gardening and painting classes.

NHS also offers consultations for home owners looking for advice about managing mortgage payments, home financing, and foreclosure mitigation.