Anne lives again. Since the late 1980s, Mutual Housing Association
of Greater Hartford has turned vacant buildings into beautiful,
affordable homes whose residents form an association similar to
a cooperative. Now, the group has a new home of its own.
Two years ago, when Mutual Housing's
directors decided the agency needed more office space, they bought
a 5,100-square-foot Queen Anne-style house at 95 Niles St. in the
city's Asylum Hill neighborhood. The group, which helped renovate
many "perfect sixes" in Frog Hollow, rehabbed this 1890s-era
The group not only preserved but highlighted
many of the home's significant architectural details, including
exterior dentil work, a majestic staircase, three fireplaces and
several huge windows. They wrapped it all up in a paint job whose
tones range from sea green to burgundy.
According to Hartford Preservation
Alliance, which gave Mutual Housing an award for the rehab, the
house once belonged to Ward Devanny, former director of the Hartford
School of Music, (now the Hartford Conservatory), and was converted
to offices 30 years ago.
Interestingly, the building is situated
sideways, which places the front entrance away from Niles. In this
way, it seems nestled alongside Grace Lutheran Church, behind CPTV,
and framed by the large curve of Regency Towers Condominiums on
Woodland Street. It fits into and enhances the Niles streetscape.
Mutual Housing, with an impressive
track record of taking old housing stock and using it to drive community
revitalization, now has some great new digs of its own, appropriately
on Niles Street. The street is named for Jonathan S. Niles, a 19th-century
community activist who, with his own money, built the original Asylum
Avenue Baptist Church.
The church was egalitarian by design:
member families included prominent merchants and former slaves,
worshipping side by side.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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