It is with mixed emotions that we greeted the news of the probable demolition of the once-proud structure now unfortunately known as the "Butt-Ugly" building. For the record, the building is not ugly — what happened to it is.
The H.B. Davis Building on Main Street in downtown Hartford sits alone, decaying and forlorn near the highway. It was once a serviceable and attractive commercial building, part of a seamless urban fabric stretching from downtown into Clay Hill and the North End.
But the disastrous decision to run I-84 through the heart of the city, plus demolition for parking lots, isolated the former department and catalog store. It was used for offices for a time. Eventually it was abandoned and began crumbling.
The city is moving to purchase and then demolish the five-story structure. If all goes well, the purchase could close at the end of the year.
The building is most likely beyond saving. It didn't deserve to become an eyesore, but it is, and must be removed. But don't call it "Butt-Ugly." It isn't — it just caught some bad luck.
We don't feel as strongly about the abandoned Capitol West building on Myrtle Street, further west along I-84. That was never an impressive building and cannot come down soon enough.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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