2016 Preservation Award
The Merryall Community Center
8 Chapel Hill Road
2016 Preservation Award
The United Bank Building
19 Main Street
Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
2017 Connecticut Preservation Awards
The United Bank Building
The United Bank Building rose from the ashes of the Great Fire of 1902. The fire had burned to the ground two banks with a long history of serving New Milford. The banks, the New Milford Savings Bank and the New Milford First National Bank agreed to re-build. Banking in those days differed; the savings bank catered to the local home owner and the national bank to the businesses. Since the two New Milford banks serviced different clients and both of their bank buildings were destroyed, they decided to construct one building for the two banks. On the corner of Main Street and Bank Street from 1902 through 1904 the current structure emerged, “the magnificent United Bank Building, one of the best equipped banking establishments in Western Connecticut. The National occupies one side, and the Savings Bank the other side of this structure, while in the second story are handsome, commodious offices.”
After years of neglect and emptiness The United Bank Building, 19 Main Street, met the Village Green Investments, LLC team. What the team found was a building in a state of massive disrepair. The roof was leaking; water ran into the building. The brick and brownstone had become porous and moisture seeped into the walls. Small trees grew along the roof line. A plan emerged and a seven month siege was launched on the building with fifty trades people working each day. The two banks were becoming one for the first time. New doorways were cut between the two. New HVAC, electrical, plumbing and media brought the building into the 21st century. Old carpeting was removed and the floors were brought back to their old luster. The front door leads to an entrance vestibule with doors both to the left and right leading to the old banks. Straight ahead is a large staircase restored and polished. On the vestibule floor are original tiles. “The entrance to each bank is under a coffered vault in the shape of a half-dome, with a shell motif…”(National Register of Historical Places Nomination Form, Item 7, p.1) The floors, walls, ceilings have given the old bank new life. Hours of sanding, painting and hard work changed 19 Main Street from a bank building to a banquet hall. The kitchens await the catering crews. The bank vaults have been emptied of cash. The safety deposit boxes have become hiding places for gifts. Party pictures can be taken in the vaults. Downstairs the vault has become the hair and make-up studio for the bride.
April 2, 1982 marked the date the United Bank Building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in the Neo-Classic Revival style “to create the statement of strength, importance, and stability sought after by banks in their architecture”. (National Register of Historical Places Nomination Form, Item 8, p.1) The Bank building’s exterior and interiors have been restored guided by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation The Village Green Investment team re-pointed the bricks, scraped and painted all the windows, doors, iron grates, repaired the tin work on the roof line and polished the handrails to the front entrance. Gary Goldring and his team’s goal was to create a modern interior and protect the exterior so the building would be a prominent structure overlooking the Village Green for the next one hundred years.
The New Milford Trust for Historic Preservation
The Merryall Community Center has been described as a venerable landmark in town. What better reason to grant an award to this 1830’s gem. The building was initially constructed as a private home and was sold to the Aspetuck Valley Grange in 1908. Abandoned as a grange hall, it sat vacant until 1951. Fortunately the building was sold to a group of Merryall residents who had the vision, foresight and money to fulfill their dreams for a venue that would bring music, plays, political events, speeches and other cultural programs to the area.
Over the years, this little building on the banks of the West Aspetuck River in a rural section of New Milford has hosted actors and musicians including Fredric March, Marian Anderson and Eartha Kitt. Today the Center continues to host professional musicians, lecturers, singers and numerous artists in programs that run from classical to jazz, big bands, dance and theatre. These programs run from Spring to Fall.
The building is a fine example of simple domestic architecture, painted barn red with gabled rooflines and of clapboard and fieldstone construction. It has been impeccably restored to its original appearance and contributes to the architectural and cultural significance of Merryall. A small addition of a stage was added in 1962 which complemented the original structure. Any subsequent work has been done in sympathy to the original design.
Because of its cultural contribution, design, history and location, the Merryall Community Center, commonly known as the Merryall Center for the Arts, was named to the State Register of Historic Places on May 5, 2010.