A series of entries designed to capture the ongoing adventures of NINA! See how we came to be where we are today, and follow along as we enter the new century of social media!

Congratulations to Mike Stockman!

Congratulations to Mike Stockman!
Today, Mike Stockman worked his last day as construction manager for NINA as he officially embarked on retirement.  Mike has worked for NINA for nearly a decade, and he has been a jack-of-all-trades as he's managed our construction schedules, overseen volunteers, worked on the houses himself, and completed, as he always called them, his "honey-do" lists that ensured that every house was ready for our new homeowners.

Mike was instrumental in the completion of the Zunner Building, stepping in to oversee the final stages of construction which included the installation of the elevator.  Mike's role in seeing this project through to the end simply cannot be understated.

NINA will of course miss Mike, and we have tremendous gratitude for everything he has done while working for us.  We wish him well in his retirement -- he tells us he plans to do some traveling, see some Broadway shows, spend time with family, and, once he gets that out of his system (and Carrie orders him out of the house!), come back as a volunteer on future NINA projects.  We're not fooled of course:  we know he's coming back for the weekly "fellowship meeting"!

Best wishes, Mike:  thanks for a great decade and the enormous difference you've made in Asylum Hill!

Posted 5/5/2017

Thanks to Our Friends from JELLO!

Thanks to Our Friends from JELLO!
On January 17, a group of students participating in Trinity College's January Experience of Living, Learning, and Outreach (JELLO) volunteered at 115 and 117 Sigourney Street.  Work included cleaning up the site, inside and out, and making the whole place look presentable.

Trinity College and NINA have partnered now for close to 10 years, with groups of students coming up at least three times each year to work on NINA sites.  We're very glad to have their help, and thanks to the support of our member institutions everything these volunteers do goes directly toward the creation of affordable homeownership opportunities in Asylum Hill.

Posted 1/17/2017

Taking Down the Tree at 94-96 Ashley

Taking Down the Tree at 94-96 Ashley
It's never fun to take down a mature tree, especially one as old and grand as the tree in front of 94-96 Ashley Street, but in this case we had no choice. We'd been advised that the tree was unhealthy, possibly dying, but as it turned out it had actually become a danger. When we started to remove it, we discovered that the tree was entirely hollow: the whole of the interior of the tree had rotted away, and it was only a matter of time before it came down.

We're guessing the tree was planted in front of the house after it was built, which would have put it at close to 120 years old. We'll never know for sure, though, since the majority of the tree rings were gone.

Posted 1/13/2017

In Memoriam: Stu Beckett

In Memoriam:  Stu Beckett
We were very saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Stu Beckett on January 7, 2017. Stu was a dedicated member of the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, and in that capacity he was instrumental in the foundation of ServCorps, the building ministry that worked to re-build homes in disaster-stricken areas around the country.  ServCorps, of course, was a long-time partner with NINA, and although we met Stu through ServCorps we quickly came to know him in his own right.  Stu lent his carpentry skills to our projects, and his involvement can be seen on many of the porches of our homes.  We still have a batch of trim that he ordered for us in our storage area, and we will think fondly of him as we install it at 94-96 Ashley Street.

Stu was a wonderful person to have around, and NINA and our homeowners all appreciate the contributions he made toward our work and toward the revitalization of Asylum Hill.  Our deepest condolences go out to his family.

Posted 1/7/2017

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting at the Zunner Building

Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting at the Zunner Building
NINA and its partners held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at the Zunner Building, 207-215 Garden Street, on Wednesday, May 11, 2016.  The ceremony marked the formal conclusion of work on the building, which was NINA's biggest project (5 years, $2.5 million) to date.

Look for a dedicated page under Some of Our Past Projects under Our Work soon!

Posted 5/11/2016

People's United Community Foundation Supports NINA!

People's United Community Foundation Supports NINA!
NINA is very pleased to announce that we received a $10,000 grant from the People's United Community Foundation to support our initiative to expand affordable homeownership opportunities in Asylum Hill for low- to moderate-income families.  The support provided by the People's United Community Foundation also furthers the Foundation's goal to increase homeownership opportunities in Hartford.

People's United Community Foundation has been a tremendous partner with NINA for over five years, and its funding has contributed to the creation of over 20 owner-occupied homes in Asylum Hill.

Many thanks to our friends at People's United Community Foundation!

Posted 10/28/2015

Consecration of 54 Huntington Street

Consecration of 54 Huntington Street
Our partner on our project at 54 Huntington Street, the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, held a ceremony following its Sunday morning service to consecrate the new house here.  Approximately 100 parishioners and neighbors came up for the ceremony and explored the interior of the house.

AHCC has generously supported this project from beginning, donating the land to NINA and contributing funds and volunteers to the construction.

Posted 9/29/2015

In Memoriam: Liam McGee (1954-2015)

In Memoriam:  Liam McGee (1954-2015)
It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Liam McGee, who had been CEO of The Hartford from October 1, 2009 through July 1, 2014.  Mr. McGee arrived at The Hartford during a transitional period in that company's history, but as he worked to transform the company he continued -- and deepened -- The Hartford's commitment to Asylum Hill.  On November 16, 2010, just over a year after he took over at The Hartford, he pledged $7 million to the neighborhood, including funding to acquire and demolish the Capitol West Building on Myrtle Street.

NINA was honored to work with Mr. McGee during his tenure at The Hartford.  His support for our efforts in Asylum Hill helped us to complete the rehabilitation and restoration of nine homes, all of which are now occupied by homeowners.  The Hartford also committed significant funding to our mixed-use project at the Zunner Building and to our two new construction projects at 33 Sargeant Street and 54 Huntington Street.

We wish to offer our condolences to Liam's family and to his colleagues at The Hartford, and we also wish to express our gratitude for his commitment to our work and his belief in the impact it has on the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

Posted 2/13/2015

Illumination Night in Sigourney Square Park

Illumination Night in Sigourney Square Park
Working with the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association and the Friends of Sigourney Square Park, we staged a modern version of "Illumination Night," a late 19th century tradition in Sigourney Square Park that involved paper lanterns strung about the park and on surrounding houses.  Back then, they got to use candles in their lanterns, while we made do with little florescent flashlights.

We estimate that around 125 people attended the event.  For this being the first time the event was held in over a century, it went well, but we learned a few things.  First, it wouldn't have been nearly as bright in the park 100 years ago -- they didn't have streetlights, and really we should have factored that in!  And second, many of the attendees walked away with lanterns as souvenirs, which we hadn't anticipated.  We are glad they liked them so much -- but we had been thinking that we would re-use them.

With lessons learned, we'll hope to bring this event back in a subsequent year.  Until then, we had a good time watching great performances by Sankofa Kuumba and listening to great music performed by Ron Pitz & Friends.

Funding for the musical performances for this event was generously provided by the Evelyn W. Preston Memorial Trust Fund.

Posted 9/19/2014

Raising the Wall at 54 Huntington Street

Raising the Wall at 54 Huntington Street
With the foundation in and the first floor fitted into place, it was time to raise the walls at 54 Huntington Street.  Our partners gathered together for this momentous event, marking the start in earnest of construction on the house.  "In earnest" because from this point forward it will become more and more recognizable as the house it will be.

Posted 8/22/2014

Consecrating and Breaking the Ground at 54 Huntington Street

Consecrating and Breaking the Ground at 54 Huntington Street
Our latest project, the construction of a new home at a vacant lot at 54 Huntington Street, officially got underway today as we broke the ground and consecrated it to its new use with our partners on this projdct.  The land here had been owned by the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, which bought it a few years back from Broad-Park Development Corporation, and AHCC generously donated the land, along with funding for construction, to NINA.  Our other partners are The Hartford, the City of Hartford, and ServCorps, all of which are contributing funds to the project as well, and of course ServCorps will be working on this project, too, as they have been on all of NINA's recent projects.

Posted 6/15/2014

First Fresh Express of the 2014 Summer Season

First Fresh Express of the 2014 Summer Season
A happy giant carrot greeted everyone who attended the opening Summer Farmers Market at Billings Forge today.  The happy giant carrot highlighted the importance of good nutrition as well as the difficulties inherent in finding fresh produce in Hartford.  The Farmers Market, now a mainstay of the Frog Hollow neighborhood, offers fresh produce from local and regional farmers every Thursday through October from 11 AM until 2 PM on the Billings Forge Green (just north of the Firebox Restaurant), and the Farmers Market doubles SNAP benefits, so that each SNAP dollar spent at the Farmers Market counts as two.

The Fresh Express, sponsored by The Hartford and Aetna, will take employees of those two companies to and from the market.  These employees can then help to provide fresh produce for local families in need:  for every dollar up to $2,000 an employee of either The Hartford or Aetna spends at the Farmers Market, The Hartford and Aetna will match that spending with a contribution to the double SNAP purchase program at the Market.  Employees should visit the Master Table at the Market to enroll their purchases and to learn more about other offers during the summer.

Posted 6/5/2014

Summer Walking Tour Series Kicks Off with a Concert at HartBeat Park

Summer Walking Tour Series Kicks Off with a Concert at HartBeat Park
A string quartet from the Hartford Symphony Orchestra helped to kick off our 2014 Summer Walking Tour in style at The Hartford's HartBeat Park.  About 200 people enjoyed the event, strolling around the park, eating lunch, and listening to the music.  Next week the tours begin with an inside look at the Hartford Courant and the studios of Fox61.

Posted 6/4/2014

Congratulations to our friends at JELLO!

Congratulations to our friends at JELLO!
We just learned that our friends at Trinity College's January Experience of Living, Learning, and Outreach (JELLO) won the prestigious 2014 Connecticut Higher Education Community Service Awards.  JELLO was honored for the demonstrated commitment to community service, the example that they set, and the inspiration that they are to others, all while pursuing excellence in higher education.

JELLO has been volunteering with NINA for the last everal years, and they've put in work most recently at 51 Ashley Street, 55 Ashley Street, and 1 Imlay Street.  Their work helps us to keep our homes affordable for their future homeowners, and we truly appreciate all of the efforts that they have put in on behalf our homeowners and the Asylum Hill neighborhood.

Congratulations, JELLO!

Posted 4/8/2014

In Memoriam: Robert Knowles

In Memoriam:  Robert Knowles
We were very saddened to learn recently of the passing of Bob Knowles, one of our most steadfast volunteers.  Bob worked with us for the last several years, bringing his skills and his work ethic -- as well as his sense of humor -- to our work sites.

We will miss Bob's presence on our sites, but we will enjoying seeing him in the work he did on our homes, whether it was a door, a window, a fireplace, or framing.  We offer our deepest condolences to his family, especially Betty, his wife of nearly 61 years, and we will remain grateful for his tireless efforts on our homes.  Bob helped make our homes more affordable for our homeowners, and he helped make Asylum Hill a better place to live.

Posted 2/1/2014

NINA in the news!

NINA appeared tonight on NBC Connecticut. Debra Bogstie covered the installation of the new banners at Sigourney Square Park. Her story included interviews with Luwannia Martin, who is chair of the Friends of Sigourney Square Park, and several residents in the park. She also noted NINA's project at 156-158 Sargeant Street, which sits across from the northeaster corner of the park. The link to her story won't last forever, but please take a look to see if it's still live!

Posted 10/29/2013

We're Going To Be In The Newspaper!

We're Going To Be In The Newspaper!
Andy Hart came round to take some photos of us posing with the new banners at Sigourney Square Park, and I snuck a photo in, too! From left to right are:

Luwannia Martin, Chair, Friends of Sigourney Square Park
Diane Cantello, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, The Hartford
Mike Zaleski, Executive Director, Hartford BID
Ken Johnson, Executive Director, NINA

It's very exciting to have the banners up -- and this was a great partnership that made it happen! Next step: reminding Hartford who Lydia Sigourney was!

By the way, compare the sky in this photo with the sky in the photos from the interviews with Debra Bogstie -- heck of a difference 3 hours can make in New England.

Posted 10/28/2013

We're Going To Be On The TV!

We're Going To Be On The TV!
Debra Bogstie interviewed Luwannia Martin of the Friends of Sigourney Square Park and Morgan Sones from The Hartford about Sigourney Square Park and our efforts to beautify and to improve the park.

Luwannia was attacked by a bee, Morgan didn't make the cut, and I couldn't keep my sunglasses out of the frame, but we had a great time all the way around!

Posted 10/28/2013

The Banners Are Up!

The Banners Are Up!
Dan the Banner Man installed the new banners around Sigourney Square Park today! They show off a silhouette of Lydia Sigourney (not that anyone knows who she is anymore, but we'll change that soon enough!), the Sweet Songstress of Hartford for whom the park and the street were named.

The colors keep to the Victorian palette, and they match the changing leaves pretty darn well, too.

Posted 10/25/2013

NINA in the news!

Debra Bogstie did a story on the rehabilitation of 1 Imlay Street and some of the discoveries our crew has made while working on this site -- finds that include a shoe and a wedding invitation from 1878. You can view the story as long as the link remains live.

The story features great shots of the shadow lines that indicated the window crowns that had been in place as well as of the window crown we did find.

Also, Chris Montross came over to be interviewed on behalf of Aetna, which is the major funder for this project. Unfortunately, Chris didn't make the final cut, but we appreciate his coming over to support our project!

Posted 12/12/2012

NINA in the news!

Vanessa de La Torre's has a story about the $500,000 donation NINA received from Connecticut Light & Power for our project at 207-213 Garden Street. The article also describes some of the work we've done on this project as well as in the area of Asylum Hill around 207 Garden Street.

Our press release on the donation is also available for viewing.

Posted 12/6/2012

NINA in the news!

The Courant published an editorial (or is it an opinion piece?) on NINA's work at 207-213 Garden Street, also known as the Zunner Building. The editorial salutes this project as the last piece of the puzzle that improves the Ashley-Garden Street section of the Sigourney Square District.

Posted 8/23/2012

NINA in the news!

Mike McGarry commented on the recent work NINA has done in the Ashley Street area of Asylum Hill in the August 9-16, 2012 edition of the Hartford News. Mike also commented on the improvements the homeowners have been making on their own.

Full disclosure: Mike was a long-time resident at 40 Ashley Street, so he's very passionate about this part of Asylum Hill.

Posted 8/16/2012

NINA in the news!

Jesse Rifkin reported on the work NINA is doing at 199-201 Sargeant Street. Bank of America has been an important part of this project, and we appreciate Dean Andrews's continued for support for our work!

Posted 5/28/2012

NINA in the news!

Debra Bogstie highlighted the work NINA is doing in Asylum Hill on tonight's 5:30 broadcast of NBC Connecticut News. Unfortunately, the video isn't available, but you can read the story -- and it's a pretty great picture of 8 and 18 Ashley Street, too!

Posted 5/17/2012

NINA in the news!

Jenna Carlesso reported on the Landscape Design Challenge portion of our Vest Pocket Garden program. Her article also highlighted some of the other events that took place today.

Posted 5/5/2012

NINA in the news!

Susan Campbell wrote a great piece today about NINA's work in Asylum Hill and about our partnership with ServCorps.

Posted 3/7/2012

NINA in the news!

ServCorps is holding a benefit concert at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church on March 9, and in advance of that Ruth Grobe, the master of all things ServCorps, submitted an article that the Courant published today. It describes the upcoming concert as well as the productive partnership that ServCorps and NINA have forged.

The article isn't available online, but we preserved a copy of it for posterity.

Posted 3/4/2012

NINA in the news!

Bernie Michel submitted a very nice opinion piece on NINA and our work in Asylum Hill that the Courant published today. He focused on 33 Sargeant Street, which is NINA's first new construction project, and he thanks our major funders -- Bank of America and The Hartford -- as well as our partners -- ServCorps and YouthBuild Hartford -- on the project.

Bernie is chair of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association (AHNA), and he's a long-time resident of Asylum Hill (1994!). Full disclosure: he's also a long-time friend of ours.

Posted 2/9/2012

Key Conveyance Ceremony for 33 Sargeant Street

Key Conveyance Ceremony for 33 Sargeant Street
We held a key conveyance ceremony today for the new homebuyers at 33 Sargeant Street, Tiana and Meschac Hercules. Mayor Pedro Segarra was on hand to congratulate the Herculeses, and Barbara Fields from HUD was also there to congratulate them. HUD provided support for this project through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), and the house is considered one of NSP's real success stories. Lynda Godkin, our board chair, and Rich Grobe, executive director of ServCorps, also spoke to the crowd.

The house was packed! Attendees included Dean Amadon of AHNA and the Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Mike Marshall of Aetna, David Panagore from the City, Andrea Perreira of LISC, Donna Taglianetti of Co-opportunity (sponsor of YouthBuild Hartford), Yasha Escalera of the City's Housing Division, Ruth Grobe of ServCorps, State Representative (and neighbor of the Herculeses) Marie Kirkley-Bey, and Thea Montanez of The Hartford.

As a special treat, Rich and Ruth presented the Herculeses with a quilt prepared by friends of ServCorps from the Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

Along with the slide show of the event, we also preserved HUD's press release and the event program put together by the City of Hartford.

Posted 12/16/2011

HUD Celebrates NINA's Success at 33 Sargeant!

HUD highlighted NINA's project at 33 Sargeant Street on its web site. The work here was funded through HUD's Neighborhood Stablization Program (NSP), and HUD featured 33 Sargeant as one of NSP's success stories.

UPDATE: HUD's page went dark, but we preserved our submission to them for posterity. They pretty much used this document verbatim.

Posted 9/22/2011

Ribbon Cutting, 33 Sargeant Street

Ribbon Cutting, 33 Sargeant Street
NINA and its partners celebrated the completion of the new home at 33 Sargeant Street with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

Posted 9/14/2011

NINA in the news!

We got a hold of the December 2010 issue of Hartford Magazine, and wow! what an article! Carol Latter wrote a feature about 87-89 Atwood Street for the magazine, and it's a great piece. We'll be honest, we're not so keen on the photos of the two "gentlemen," but 87-89 Atwood really shines.

We scanned the full article for perusal as it isn't available online (at least not that we could find). Photos are by Lisa Brisson.

Posted 12/17/2010

NINA in the news!

Ken Gosselin, the Courant's real estate reporter, published an article in the paper today about NINA's recent purchase of 207-213 Garden Street. The article is no longer available online, but we saved

Posted 11/18/2010

NINA in the news!

The Hartford Guardian published a brief article broadcasting our open house next week and describing NINA's work in Asylum Hill.

Posted 10/9/2010

NINA in the news!

Tom Condon's column today is about NINA and its work in the Sigourney Square District. Tom paid particular attention to the project at 87-89 Atwood Street.

The article isn't available online any longer, but we saved a copy of it for posterity.

Posted 4/11/2010

NINA in the news!

Ken Gosselin wrote a nice article about 87-89 Atwood that was published in today's Courant. The article isn't available online any longer, but we preserved a copy of it for posterity.

And seriously, we didn't spray paint the "no parking" on the street, but we think it was a fabulous idea to do it! (Likely it was our friends at the Hartford Fire Department.)

Posted 5/5/2009

NINA's Work Recognized by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation

NINA's Work Recognized by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
NINA was very honored to be recognized by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation with their prestigious Harlan H. Griswold Award in HIstoric Preservation for exemplifying "Harland Griswold's leadership, vision, and selfless dedication to preserving Connecticut's heritage and who by deed or example have mad our state a better place for all of its citizens." We shared the award with Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven, which like us works to preserve historic properties as affordable housing opportunities.

CTHP has a nice write-up on its web site, and they also mention the other awards given out tonight. We especially want to extend our congratulations to Trinity College and the University of Hartford Hartt School of Music on their awards -- together we are all working together to preserve Hartford's history well into the future!

Posted 4/27/2009

NINA in the news!

Lisa Prevost published an article today in the New York Times, describing NINA"s efforts to purchase distressed houses in Asylum Hill. The article featured photos of 246-248 Sargeant Street and 235-237 Sargeant Street, and it quoted some of our friends in the neighborhood as well.

Posted 8/29/2008

NINA's Work Recognized by This Old House!

Okay, this is just plain fun! One of our favoritest TV shows going (you'd kind of guessed that already, hadn't you?) recognized Asylum Hill as one of the "best old neighborhoods" in the country in their partner magazine. Not only did they mention NINA's work in the neighborhood, but they also including one of Ken's photos! Here's where to go to see it all:

Best Places for First-Time Buyers to Get an Old House (Slide 1 of 17)
Best Places for Retirees to Buy an Old House (Slide 4 of 15)
Best Places for City Slickers to Buy an Old House (Slide 1 of 15)
Best Places to Buy a Queen Anne (Slide 2 of 14)
Best Places in the Northeast to Buy an Old House (Slide 1 of 11)

The feature is the same under each category, so the additional links are really just an indication of how excited we are about this!

Posted 7/24/2008

Placing the Commemorative Cornerstone, 21 Ashley Street

Placing the Commemorative Cornerstone, 21 Ashley Street
NINA held a ceremony to place a commemorative cornerstone at 21 Ashley Street.  The house is now firmly ensconced at its new location, and the next step will be to build the front porch.

Posted 11/19/2004

Moving the Victorian Lady - Day 2

Moving the Victorian Lady - Day 2
She sat at the corner of Garden and Ashley overnight, but today we delivered her to her new location!  Next steps will include building the foundation under her and then adding a historically appropriate front porch and steps.

Stay tuned -- more to come!

Posted 7/19/2004

Moving the Victorian Lady - Day 1

Moving the Victorian Lady - Day 1
After weeks of preparation, today was the Big Day!  The Victorian Lady began her move from 47 Sigourney Street to 21 Ashley Street, traveling along Farmington Avenue and then up Cogswell Street to Garden Street.

Unfortunately, we had to pause at the corner of Ashley and Garden due to some issues with power lines, but we're looking forward to moving the Victorian Lady onto her new lot first thing tomorrow morning!

Posted 7/18/2004

NINA in the news!

And we're off! PR Newswire published NINA's introductory press release in full. This gives an overview of our mission, our members, and our partners. We'll look forward to posting more as we go, revitalizing one of the best neighborhoods in Hartford!

Posted 10/16/2003