Partnership Formed to Protect Greenwich’s Fast Disappearing Architectural Heritage

Permanent protection of Greenwich’s historic homes is the driver of an alliance between the Historical Society and the recently formed Historic Properties of Greenwich (HPG).

With the escalation in homes being demolished for more contemporary structures, the need for protecting Greenwich’s classic New England heritage is greater than ever. Since 2002, there have been 1,896 residential demolition permits issued in Greenwich, for an annual average of 105. If this rate continues, Greenwich will forever lose its distinctive charm. 

Tree stumps in front of a row of houses slated for demolition on Milbank Ave. Photo: Greenwich Historical Society
Anne H. Young, co-founder, Historic Properties of Greenwich; Debra Mecky, CEO & Executive Director, Greenwich Historical Society; Russell S. Reynolds, Jr., co-founder of Historic Properties of Greenwich; Elise Hillman Green, co-founder of Historic Properties of Greenwich and Haley Elmlinger, Co-chair, Greenwich Historical Society Board of Trustees. Photo taken at Elise Hillman Green’s home Stoneybrook, a commanding colonial on Taconic Rd., dating to 1750 and one of the first homes to secure landmark status for lifetime protection due to Green’s mother’s influence in building awareness for the importance of protecting Greenwich’s historic residential treasures. Photo: Greenwich Historical Society

Formed two years ago, HPG was created to complement the Town of Greenwich’s preservation and conservation initiatives by providing a singular focus on assisting residents interested in forever safeguarding their beloved historic homes and districts for future generations through Local Historic Property and Local Historic District designations.

Leading the charge are residents with a history and passion for protecting Greenwich’s architectural gems: Elise Hillman Green, Russell S. Reynolds Jr, and Anne H. Young.

Demolished in 2015, the John Knapp House, c1760. Photo: Greenwich Historical Society

Cherished Historic Assets Increase in Value
According to HPG there is a false perception in Greenwich that historic designations negatively impact the value of a home. “Our goal is to change this narrative by positioning historic homes in their proper context as cherished assets and irreplaceable works of art that increase in value,” says Green.

HPG estimates there are only 100 18th century properties left in Greenwich.

“This is shocking and disturbing,” Young said, adding, “It’s especially troubling considering properties within historic districts typically sell more quickly on average. People in these districts like the stability they afford and neighbors who share their values for historic preservation. We need to communicate the very real economic and environmental advantages to preserving these historic properties and mobilize the community and the real estate industry to support this effort.”

56 Clapboard Ridge Rd, “Hobby Horse Farm” was demolished in 2016. Photo: Greenwich Historical Society
Demolished in 2016, Lockwood House was built in 1875. Oct 3, 2016 Photo: Leslie Yager

Seminar Provides Practical Steps to Save Communities
Jane Montanaro, executive director of Connecticut Preservation, Debra Mecky, executive director and CEO of the Historical Society, and HPG founders Hillman, Reynolds and Young will present practical solutions homeowners can take to save Greenwich communities through Historic Property Designation and the economic and environmental benefits this permanent protection affords.

Co-sponsored by the Greenwich Association of Realtors, the Zoom discussion is January 27 from 6:00 – 7:00pm. To register and for more information:

History of Celebrating Architectural Heritage
The Historical Society has been a leading proponent for preservation throughout its 89-year history. For 33 years, its annual Landmarks Recognition Program has presented plaques to homes for their architectural excellence. Other noteworthy initiatives include the formation of the Greenwich Preservation Network, a consortium of like-minded local organizations, and the publication of “Building Greenwich: Architecture and Design, 1640 to the Present.”

According to long-time CEO Debra Mecky, the alliance with HPG will benefit the town of Greenwich and all residents who value its distinctive heritage.

“By supporting each other’s advocacy and educational initiatives, we can build greater awareness and support for the urgent need to maintain our historic architectural treasures and the character of our neighborhoods,” Mecky said. “We look forward to working collaboratively with other organizations in town with a similar mission to ensure we have the best thinking and support for achieving our goals.”

Under the agreement the Historical Society will provide office and administrative support for HPG’s initiatives, including a presence on its website, newsletter, and marketing outreach.

HPG Founders: Passionate Proponents for Historic Property Protection

  • Elise Hillman Green – Daughter of Sandra Hillman, a pioneer in building awareness for the importance of protecting the town’s historic residential treasures, Green continues the legacy she started. She and her family live in her childhood home, Stoneybrook, a commanding colonial on Taconic Rd. dating to 1750 and one of the first homes to secure landmark status for lifetime protection due to her mother’s influence. Green is also active in Greenwich Preservation Trust.
  • Russell S. Reynolds, Jr. – Former CEO and founder of Russell Reynolds Associates and current chairman of RSR Partners, Reynolds descended from a Greenwich farming family dating to 1645. His wife Debbie and he restored an historic home on Taconic Rd. and formed the Stanwich Historic District comprising 16 properties. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Greenwich Historical Society and numerous other cultural organizations.
  • Anne H. Young – Member and former Chair, Historic District Commission and Executive Board Director of Greenwich Preservation Trust, Young also served as Curator of Library and Archives for the Historical Society. She has worked in special collections at the Frick Art Reference Library, Knoedler Gallery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and other leading arts and cultural organizations.
John Knapp House
John Knapp House. June 4, 2015 Photo: Leslie Yager

See also:

Dusk Brings the Wrecking Ball to Hobby Horse Farm c 1840

Nov 9, 2016

Next for the Wrecking Ball in Greenwich: Lockwood House, circa 1875

Oct 4, 2016

Ouch! A Big Bite out of John Knapp House

June 4, 2015