Norma Bartol: Preserving Greenwich’s past to enjoy in the future
“Preservation Front and Center” was the headline on the Greenwich Historical Society news and programs for July and August. The article goes on to say that preservation activities in Greenwich can take many forms, suggesting that we look together to save our town’s historic properties.
Needless to say this was and is a wonderful idea to me, as a dozen or more years of this space have been devoted to the idea that we must protect our historical properties. I have spent many words on this subject.
It all happened in a week when the following occurred: The Mead Farm on Riversville Road and the Crossman house on Round Hill Road came down in minutes, or so it seemed. It was demolished in an amazingly short time, like two days. This is outrageous to anyone who has lived in town for more than five minutes. Many historical houses have come down, but that glorious house on Clapboard Ridge Road made a big difference for me, perhaps as it at one time belonged to a friend of mine. Needless to say, what took its place has called for more discussion, most of it bad.
Now, according to the Historical Society Preservation, activities in town can take many forms. Some suggestions follow.
Local Historic Property Designation is the best protection for historic properties, homes, neighborhoods, or districts. The town also designates historic overlay zones.
Other ways, not as strong, are National Historic Landmark, National Register Districts, National Register of Historic Places, State Register of Historic Places, and Scenic Road Designation.
The society suggests Historic District signs to increase visibility of historic districts and to educate the community about older buildings and neighborhoods.
The Greenwich Preservation Society has erected signs of historic significance. These include the Greenwich Municipal Center, Historic Fourth Ward, River Road, Mead Avenue Historic District, Glenville Historic District, and that at Putnam Hill. Markers are headed for Greenwich Avenue, Round Hill Road at John Street, and the Stanwich Historic District. Send in $3,500 for each sign, and your name will appear on the permanent marker.
How can you help? Read the print copy of Greenwich Time and look for demolition notices. Write a letter to the Planning and Zoning Department for zoning amendments, and become involved in your neighborhood association.
This is most important as president of one association and member of another, I have become a great believer in said organizations. I wonder what would happen if all those organizations got together and forced the Representative Town Meeting to act to preserve the town.
After all, those of us who live and work in this beautiful place, to say nothing of paying taxes, should have a huge say about what goes on. It seems that most people who have come up at events to chat with me feel strongly about this point.
Yes, some are not interested and want the town to become a city, which some already call it. But from my watch, most do not want Greenwich to become another White Plains. Mostly, that includes out-of-town builders and others who stand to make money out of developing our town, which I can understand but obviously don’t like. Especially when I read Greenwich History, which I do in order to make sure I have plenty of knowledge about the town I love.
As I have said and written before, this is an amazing place.
Greenwich native Norma Bartol, a former Greenwich Time reporter and columnist, lives in the backcountry.