Count ‘em: 40 wooden exterior windows on an 1895 house — forget new aluminum ones and the ugly sash running across them — have been lovingly restored.
That’s an example of the architectural love, care, and persistence over nearly a decade of historic restoration that won Gina and Rob Naracci the 2015 House Preservation Award from the New Haven Preservation Trust for their 678 Orange St. beauty (pictured).
The Naraccis were among those who picked up awards from the Trust at a ceremony in City Hall Tuesday.
The event was timed for national Preservation Month. It came on top of a separate award given recently to the Trust by Docomomo, an international committee for the documentation and conservation of buildings, sites, and neighborhoods of the Modern Movement. Docomomo cited the trust for its New Haven Modern website. The restoration of Ingalls hockey rink — aka The Yale Whale — also received an award from Docomomo.
The Preservation Trust awards event Tuesday afternoon drew two dozen preservation-minded citizens to the second floor of City Hall.
Click here for the full descriptions of the project winners and citations.
The Naraccis, both architects, implemented the project themselves and said, after the ceremonies, that they never gave up hope. They first did the roof, then the chimney, then the front porch. “We picked off the problems one at a time,” said Gina Naracci.
In addition to the annual house preservation award, NHPT board chair Bruce Peabody and its buildings committee head, Duo Dickinson, presented the organization’s Merit Plaque to Center Church for the architects Gregg Wies & Gardner’s major do-over of the brick and brownstone facade, among other historic elements, of Center Church’s Parish House at 311 Temple St. (pictured).
Originally the 1852 house of area builder and eminence Ezekiel Trowbridge, the building, now the parish house for Center Church, was cited both for its “authentic restoration and adaptive re-use.”
The final awardee — and the award with what Dickinson called the “largest intentions” — was to “honor a building and site with enduring historical significance.”
The winner was the Institute Library on Chapel Street, but not for any facade or easily noticed work. The judges cited the work over the last several years in, for example, making the skylights operational again and securing the ancient windows on the Chapel Street side from falling onto the sidewalk below.
The library’s board chair, Greg Pepe, and the award itself particularly cited the work of restoration craftsman extraordinaire Michael Klem (pictured). As the citation reads, “over a period of several years, doors were re-fit, hardware cleaned, patched, and even re-cast or refabricated by hand when necessary. Transoms that had not operated in 50 years now opened gracefully, and original Sheffield glass lamp shades were restored to everyday use. The library moved the director’s office to the third floor, added spaces for the use of community groups, and added cabinets and work surfaces for conserving library material.
“Windows had seals replaced, weights were re-hung, hardware was repaired. Brass pressure gauges for the old steam radiators were repaired and reinstalled ... even the original brass thumb-pegs that held the library’s many bookshelves were cleaned, holes refinished. A swinging door to the office area was restored, including its spring-activated closer, a third floor bathroom was restored to functional use.”
The effort demonstrates that the “preservation of history has been loved to renewal,” bringing a “threatened resource ... back to life,” said Pepe.
Klem said that as a result of the restoration decisions made — for example, not to tear out and build anew but, to re-cast a dozen door escutheon plates and mortise locks out of one remaining original — oodles of money were also saved.
“That library was created by tradesmen so they could educate themselves. Why wouldn’t a guy like me put my heart and soul into it? They were tradesmen, mechanics, artisans, like myself,” Klem added.