HARTFORD — For years, the debate surrounding the future of the Grumman-St. John House on East Avenue in Norwalk seemed to be at a stalemate. However, last fall and agreement was finally reached to preserve the historic property while allowing the Norwalk Inn and Conference Center to expand. At a ceremony held at the State Capitol in Hartford last evening, Representative Lawrence Cafero (R-Norwalk) and state Senator Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) and were recognized for their efforts to help resolve the dispute and craft a compromise solution to the longstanding disagreement.
Cafero and Duff were honored with the Harlan Griswold Award; presented jointly by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, the award recognizes individuals, corporations and other organizations whose activities embody the dedication to preservation of the late Harlan Griswold, longtime chair of the Connecticut Historical Commission and a founder of the Connecticut Trust.
“Through the collaborative efforts of everyone involved we came up with the right plans to preserve this historic property and allow for tremendous economic opportunity and growth,” said Representative Cafero. “The partners were able to overcome longstanding obstacles through hard work and common trust. This is a great success story.’’
Under the compromise plan, the Grumman-St. John House will be renovated and restored and used as additional hotel rooms for long-term stays at the inn. The Norwalk Inn will expand upward, adding a third story above the existing building that would approximately hold 40 additional hotel rooms.
“Without Bob and Larry, we never could have found a resolution to this issue,” said Tod Bryant of the Norwalk Preservation Trust. “The Norwalk Trust and its predecessor had been trying to save the Grumman-St. John house for 10 years—four of them in court—when Bob and Larry stepped in. They performed a true act of public service and for that they truly deserve this award.”
Cafero and Duff also congratulated the Norwalk Preservation Trust, which received an Award of Merit for Community Service at the ceremony in Hartford for its local preservation, educational and advocacy work.
The Grumman-St. John House dates back to the Revolutionary War and was built by Samuel Grumman. It was severely damaged in the burning of Norwalk by the British in 1779 and was rebuilt in the 1780s. The house was expanded and its current roof was added in the 1870s. It has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places since 1986 as part of the Norwalk Green Historic District. The Norwalk Inn purchased the historic property in 2001.
IN THIS PHOTO: (From left to right) Helen Higgins, executive director for the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, Senator Bob Duff, Representative Lawrence Cafero and Kip Bergstrom, executive director for the Commission on Culture and Tourism