December 11, 2019

Historic and Architectural Resource Survey Should be Made of Highland Hall

To the Editor:

Although I am aware of the Church’s need and desire to come to a conclusion on the c. 1910 Essex Grammar School building, I think it is important that an Historic and Architectural Resource survey of the building be made. The State of Connecticut offers non-profit organizations and municipalities grants that make this possible. The Commission on Culture and Tourism and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation have the ability to survey such a building to determine its condition and viability. The Connecticut Trust’s Circuit Rider Program was designed to provide immediate and direct hands-on preservation advice.

In the 1950s Hills Academy was slated to be demolished to create a parking lot because the town did not know what to do with the building. What a grievous loss that would have been. Only after a public outcry was the building saved.

The location of the Essex Grammar School building (you may not be aware that the property abuts the Town Hall and Town Park property) and the future needs of the Town for additional space, make it doubly important that we all take a good look at this building before it is turned to rubble. Many similar school buildings throughout the state have been preserved and put to new uses.

Could the building be mothballed so that the Church and the Town could work out an arrangement to benefit both parties? It may require creativity to come up with a good solution, but Essex certainly has the ability to look into the future and solve this puzzle.

As a first step, an Historic and Architectural Resource Survey will create a detailed inventory of the building so that an alternative solution that will benefit the entire town can be reached.

Sincerely,

Eve Potts,
Essex, CT

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