TO THE EDITOR:
REGARDING STANDARD OF REVIEW:
The library may be an historic building, but attempting to regulate it in the same way as Norfield Church is not appropriate in this district. The Norfield Historic District lists its period of significance as up to c.1920. The library, being built in 1963, should therefore not be regulated in the same way as historic resources that belong to the district's primary era of significance.
The Norfield National Register District clarifies this discrepancy by listing the library and town hall both as "noncontributing" resources in the district. That is, these buildings do not merit regulation or consideration in the same way that their older neighbors such as Jarvis or Norfield Church do. According to the Connecticut Historic Preservation Trust, the first historic district report dates from 1969, only a few years after the library was built. It was likely never considered a contributing building and therefore it should be subject to a different standard of review.
REGARDING APPROPRIATENESS IN DISTRICT:
When considering additions to resources in historic districts it is right to consider notions of scale, form and materials. The library is clearly of a later era than the district's most historically significant buildings. I would therefore encourage the HDC to consider the proposed addition with greater flexibility and a more expansive concept of appropriateness, while still being mindful about the district's character and the effect an addition may have on designated resources that contribute to the integrity of the historic district.
Appropriateness should be granted when a proposed addition is "not incongruous" with the district's character. But it is important to remember that districts often have buildings from a range of time periods and architectural styles. Because the 1963 library building represents a very different era and architectural vocabulary in this district, it makes sense to consider the addition on the library's own architectural terms as well.
The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation ask for additions to be sensitive to the historic context but clearly differentiated from the historic resource to help distinguish what is historic from what is not. The proposed addition will clearly and appropriately be read as a creation of our time, but its design is not incompatible with the 1963 library or other historic resources in the district.
The materials specified for the proposed addition complement the 1963 library building without aping it or the historic vocabularies of adjacent designated buildings. The addition's peaked roof references the 1963 library's midcentury modern folded plate rooflines, helping relate this tallest and most visible element back to the lines of the original building.
Importantly, the massing of the proposed addition is set to the rear of the library. Its siting and massing place its bulk away from the street and away from the nearest and more historic buildings in the district. This is a clear statement of the library's value as the older building and will read as deferential to the district's historic buildings.
The proposed library addition should be awarded a Certificate of Appropriateness and Westonites should appreciate this special opportunity to add a new civic building of significance in the heart of town.
— Ashley Hahn
Ms. Hahn is an Adele Chatfield-Taylor Fellow in Historic Preservation, American Academy in Rome, 2019-2020. She holds a Master of Science in Historic Preservation from the University of Pennsylvania, 2008, and a Master of City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania, 2008.
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