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!

NINA in the Blogosphere!


Kyle Bergquist posted a piece on his blog today about 115 Sigourney Street and our work in Asylum Hill.  Kyle and his wife Amy are Hartford real estate agents (they not only sell homes in Hartford but live in Hartford, too!),  and they have been terrific supporters of NINA's work over the years.  For Hartford Heritage Homes, they pitched in by helping us out with a market analysis on the project that we submitted to our funders for this project.  This analysis persuaded the funders that our homes would sell, and that in turn led to our ability to get this project underway!

Hartford and NINA are very fortunate to have partners like the Bergquists who are committed to the revitalization of Hartford.

The Partnership for Strong Communities Recognizes NINA's work to Diversify the Affordable Housing stock in Hartford


The Partnership for Strong Communities mentioned NINA's work on affordable housing in Asylum Hill in a nice piece on diversifying Hartford's affordable housing stock on its web site today.  Not to sound ungrateful, but they did get the address of the Zunner Building wrong!  It's at 207 Garden Street, and it does include a three-bedroom along with several one-bedroom apartments, all of which are affordable and in a fantastic location.  The addresses that the piece did list, 87 and 89 Atwood Street, are still NINA projects, though.  They are the side-by-side, three-story townhomes that we located behind the historic facade of a Perfect Six.

The other address listed, 4-40 Vine Street, is a fantastic set of buildings beautifully restored by our peer CDC, Sheldon Oak Central.

the fifth annual Caroling in the Park!


The Friends of Sigourney Square Park hosted the Fifth Annual Caroling in the Park tonight.  The event was sponsored by the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association and NINA, with support from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford and Youth Challenge.  Santa arrived on a sleigh provided by the Hartford Fire Department, and he heard Christmas wishes from kids (and adults!) and helped to lead the singing.  The Glory Chapel Choir provided cover for anyone too nervous to sing, and afterwards we all went to Glory Chapel for hot chocolate at Glory Chapel, just a block away on May Street.

Pictured in the slide show are members of the Glory Chapel Choir, Santa Claus, Luwannia Martin, Val Carrier, David Corrigan, and David MacDonald.

Photos by Bernie Michel.




Okay, so not exactly.  "Closed" or "Transferred Title" would be more accurate, but neither has the dramatic impact of ... "Sold!"  Today, we happily saw 52 Huntington Street off to Asylum Hill's newest homeowner, Chion Wolf.  We wish her and her partner Emily well in their new abode!

Looking up the stairwell


Standing on the second floor, looking up.

Looks Like We Made It


The final touches:  a view of the newly finished study, and a view of the newly installed front walk.  In case you're wondering, no grass:  the homeowner plans a small urban farm (or a large home garden) that will include crops in the front yard as well as the back.

The Light Fixtures are coming! The Light Fixtures are coming!


It's not really all that dramatic, but it is the last things we need to install before we can declare "House!"

A View with a kitchen


This view looks eastward from the dining area into the kitchen.  You can see where everything will go now:  the unpainted areas represent where cabinets and appliances will go.  And you can now see what the hardwood floors look like, as they've been stained according to the homeowner's request.

More Paint Goes in at 52 huntington Street


We poked up on a Saturday to get you an update on how the painting is going.  The homeowner has selected more interior colors, and we've also started to construct the front porch.  And, we included a view of the seldom seen rear of the house!

A Peek Inside at 52 Huntington Street


A quick peek inside -- more paint, and we also opened up the study on the first floor to let more sunlight in.

52 Huntington Street and its neighbors

52 Huntington Street

An updated look at 52 Huntington, 52 Huntington, and 181 Collins Street.

What a difference a gable makes!


With the west gable installed, 52 Huntington Street looks more and more like its next door neighbor, 54 Huntington Street.

Paint Goes in at 52 Huntington Street


Our new homeowner has made her first selections on interior paint colors, and we started applying paint at the very top of the house, in the stairwell up on the third floor.

One Gable Up, One gable to go


The woodwork has been installed in the south gable.  Next up is the west gable.  And sure, I'll admit it, there's actually two gables to go, but the one on the north side is impossible to photograph!

52 Huntington Street Is On The Market!

52 Huntington Street

It's on the market!  It's a bit brazen to put it on the market so early, but we've already been getting lots of inquiries about it, we thought we'd try it out early to see how it performs.  The MLS listing went live yesterday, and here's the official description we put out on the listing:

New single-family home marries Victorian charm and modern comforts. Designed to match the architectural and historic character of Hartford's Asylum Hill neighborhood, this home is energy- efficient with green features, off-street parking, and bay windows with a southern exposure. Close to downtown, walking distance to the major institutions of the neighborhood, and conveniently located near major transportation routes. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bath, master bedroom suite with walk-in closet, spacious kitchen with granite counters, first floor study/family room that could be used as bedroom, and unfinished bonus space on the third floor. Owner-occupancy restrictions apply - please contact for more information. Please note: house currently under construction. Opportunity to get in now on Asylum Hill's next modern Victorian!

By the way, the picture here is our "artist's rendering" of the final house, but we didn't put it out on MLS.  There, we included photos of where the house actually is as well as the floor plans for the first and second floors.  We just thought it would be fun to put the artist's rendering here!

52 Huntington Street and its neighbors

52 Huntington Street

It's a nice sunny day, and it seemed a good day to show off how 52 Huntington Street fits with its neighbors.  The gable matches what we did at 52 Huntington Street, and both match the gable at the rear of 181 Collins Street, which is at the corner of Huntington and Collins Streets.  The house at 181 Collins Street has been there since the 19th century (supposedly designed by George Keller -- we're working on figuring that out for sure!), and we think the effect of the gables implies that both 54 and 52 Huntington Street have been there at least as long as 181 Collins.  You be the judge, though:  what do you think?

52 Huntington Street: Where it is now


It's definitely a house now!  The roof is on, complete with copper flashing, the windows are in, and the siding is being applied.

Volunteers From The Hartford!


We had a small group of volunteers come down from The Hartford today to help us install sheetrock on the first floor at 52 Huntington Street. The group was organized by Andrew Daly, who also serves as the president of NINA's board of directors, and it included Kelechi Ndu and Sarah Needham. They were joined by Chris Young, a former colleague who now works at the Travelers. They hung sheetrock in the foyer closet, the study closet, and the half bath. Andy, Sarah, and Chris have all worked for us before, but this was Kel's first time volunteering on a NINA site.

Caroling in the Park


I think this is the first time we’ve had snow on the ground for Caroling in the Park, which was a very nice touch.  We started per usual at the “North Pole” (aka Veeder Place), where Santa climbed into his “sled” (a fire truck from the Sigourney Street Station) before heading over to Glory Chapel for hot chocolate.  Still not sure what to make of the elves on stilts.  Entertainment was provided by Hartford Proud Drum and Drill Corps.

The roof goes on at 52 huntington Street


A beautiful, sunny day after Thanksgiving.  A perfect day for roofing.

The Roof is framed at 52 Huntington Street


The roof is framed!  This effort also created what will be the third floor bonus space.

A rainbow over Hartford


This was the view from our office window looking north, and then we were able to follow the rainbow as it ended downtown.

The View of 52 Huntington street from 54 Huntington Street


The view of the new house looking down Huntington Street.

52 Huntington Street: Where it is now


The second floor is up.  Next stop, the roof!

Capping the first floor at 52 Huntington Street


Okay, so we don't really call it "capping" the first floor, but it's the same process we undertook with the basement.  Here, the first floor walls are in place, and the beams that will support the second floor have been installed.  Next step:  putting on the actual floor, and then we'll frame the second floor.

The Hartford's Day of Caring at 52 Huntington Street


We had a good group from The Hartford today.  Led by Andy Daly, who is Assistant General Counsel, Lead Counsel Contracting Center of Excellence and President of NINA's Board of Directors, 16 employees from The Hartford (plus one from Travelers) raised all of the walls on the first floor of the house.

The Hartford's employees volunteer with us year-round, but this volunteer work was special as it was done for the Day of Caring, The Hartford's annual day of service in commemoration of 9/11.  NINA is proud to be one of the many sites in Hartford at which The Hartford's employees volunteer for this very important event.

The Hartford is also a member institution of NINA's -- along with Aetna, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, and Webster Bank, The Hartford founded NINA in 2003 to address blight in the Asylum Hill neighborhood of Hartford.

Wall Raising at 52 Huntington


With the help of a group of volunteers from The Hartford, we raised the first wall of 52 Huntington Street this morning.  For us, this is the equivalent of laying the cornerstone:  it indicates that our new home is fully underway!


At the right side of the photos are Valerio Giadone, architect for this project, and Ken Johnson, NINA's executive director.

Capping the foundation at 52 Huntington


As we get ready for volunteers to help us with the framing for 52 Huntington, we worked today to cap the foundation.  This involves the installation of what is effectively the first floor, and it's a process that will be repeated after we frame the first floor, which in its turn is the foundation for the second floor.  The volunteers are on their way in three days, and we'll be ready for them!

foundation Poured at 52 Huntington


We've poured the foundation at 52 Huntington Street -- next step is to cap it, so that we can start building the house.

This Week's Tour: Interstate 84 Viaduct


Our friends at ConnDOT escorted this week’s group around some of the spots that will be substantially impacted by the planned changes to Interstate 84.

This Week's Tour: Inside Aetna


Being mid-August, we thought that a walk inside would be a good idea!  Today it was Aetna.  We started at the geographical center of Hartford (so says Aetna, but they installed a medallion to prove it), and then we toured the building.  The highlight was a look at the vault:  what a huge massive door!

Inside Asylum Hill Congregational Church


Today we got a peek inside Asylum Hill Congregational Church, which provided some insights into the building’s history in the neighborhood.  We also got an close-up look at the Angel of the Boar’s Head Festival, which was prepared by Anne Cubberly.

This Week's Tour: Gospels in Stone


A nice turnout for a second day in a row!  This year, Mary Falvey took the group into Trinity Episcopal Church on Sigourney Street as part of her Gospels in Stone tour of the major churches of Asylum Hill.  We were joined there by Don Hamer, Rector at Trinity Episcopal, who provided additional details about the memorial garden and the sanctuary.  Afterwards, we snick into the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, so participants got two churches for the price of one tour – which is free, by the way!

An inside look at West Middle Community School


We arranged an “off Wednesday” tour of the newly renovated West Middle Community School today.  I have to admit, I had been skeptical about the rooftop athletic field, but they pulled it off!

This Week's Tour: Bushnell Park


A smaller group than usual, but those who came got a detailed history of Bushnell Park from Don Poland.

This Week's Tour: The Street on Which I live


Frank Hagaman led today’s group on a walk down Farmington Avenue as far as South Marshall Street.  Along the way, he highlighted history, architecture, and future plans for the business corridor.

New Signage at Sigourney Square Park


Hartford Department of Public Works has installed new signs at the gateways to Sigourney Square Park on Sigourney Street.  These signs will be standard for all parks in Hartford.

Progress at 94 Ashley

94-96 Ashley Street

The interior is coming together nicely.

This week's tour: Forgotten Asylum Hill


Jonathan Clark took us on a walk through the old Town Farm and past the former site of the Alms House.

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!

The Zunner Building's new name unveiled

207-213 Garden Street

This goes under the heading of things we noticed in the neighborhood – we saw this new sign up as we were out and about today, and we stopped for a photo.

Incidentally, we only feel slightly out of touch – apparently HCLF re-dedicated the building back in October!

At work on 94 Ashley Street

94-96 Ashley Street

Some scenes from the work on 94 Ashley.

Dinner with the Swifts


Tonight we were part of a tour for Christopher Swift, CEO of The Hartford, and Mary Swift, his wife.  They were joined on their tour by Kathleen Bromage, Chief Markeing and Communications Officer for The Hartford.  This tour was arranged by Diane Cantello, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability at The Hartford, and it was organized by Morgan Ferrarotti, Director of Strategic Community Investments at The Hartford.  We worked with them to connect the Swifts with Katie Kokias, one of the residential tenants at 207 Garden Street, and she very graciously took us through her apartment.  We also worked with Steve Borla and Naveed Sobhan of the Hartford Community Loan Fund to host the Swifts for dinner.  Together, we were able to give the Swifts a real inside look at 207 Garden Street and everything that had gone into its rehabilitation.

The Swifts’ visit 207 Garden was the last stop on the tour that Diane and Morgan put together, and we all enjoyed the chance to sit, enjoy dinner from Kent Pizza just downstairs, and to talk about our work as well as the broader effort to revitalize Hartford and Asylum Hill.  The Hartford has been a tremendous partner with us since we were founded – in fact, they founded us! – and we appreciate how strongly The Hartord continues to invest in NINA as we near 15 years of working together in Asylum Hill.

Naturally we celebrated the moment with a joint photograph!  Pictured from left to right are Kathleen Bromage, Morgan Ferrarotti, David Corrigan, Christopher Swift, Mary Swift, Diane Cantello, Naveed Sohan, and Steve Borla.  We’re in HCLF’s conference room, which overlooks Garden Street.

Trinity students volunteer at 94 Ashley Street

94-96 Ashley Street

We had another group of Trinity students out today to help with the owrk at 94 Ashley Street.  Here they are after all the hard work -- they seemed to have had a good time!

A new name for the Zunner Building

207-213 Garden Street

In a stop over at 207 Garden Street today, we learned that the Hartford Community Loan Fund has changed the name of the building!  The building, which we had named in honor of George Zunner, its architect, is now the Jacobson Building, in honor of Elinor P. Jacobson, more widely known as Elly Jacobson.

According to HCLF, Jacobson was president of their board of directors when she began to push the organization to find a new, more central location for its cramped offices in the South End, which had been HCLF’s primary focus prior to expanding its services citywide.  Jacobson, who passed away in 2009, held a variety of positions around Hartford, including Director of Community Services at Trinity College, and she was also active in Hartford politics and on other non-profit boards, in particular the Hartford Artists Collective.

HCLF has installed this portrait of Jacobson in their lobby.

Thanks To Our Friends From JELLO!


A group of students participating in Trinity College's January Experience of Living, Learning, and Outreach (JELLO) volunteered today 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.

In Memoriam: Stu Beckett


We were very saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Stu Beckett today. 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.

Caroling in the Park!


Ah, the joys of the season are not complete without this event!

More work at 94 Ashley Street

94-96 Ashley Street

This is historic rehabilitation in action!

A new kitchen for 94 ashley?

94-96 Ashley Street

A couple of days ago, Morgan Ferrarotti of The Hartford got in touch with us.  For awhile now, The Hartford has had a model kitchen on display in its main lobby, but the exhibit is now coming to an end.  Morgan wanted to know:  could NINA use a new kitchen?

It's not the sort of offer we get everyday, but Ken Johnson and MIke Stockman went over to have a look and take some measurements.  It's actually lovely -- it's a "butcher block" with everything it, from cabinets to the stove to electric outlet to, yes, the kitchen sink.  It was designed to keep everything low and within reach, which reminded us of the kitchen we installed over at 1 Imlay, but really this one was made with seniors in mind.  And it bears the AARP seal of approval, AARP being a co-sponsor of this model kitchen exhibit with The Hartford.

Just plain dumb luck, but it looks like the kitchen on the second floor at 94 Ashley Street is big enough for this kitchen.  The stars may really have aligned for us on this one!

At work in 94 Ashley Street

94-96 Ashley Street

And the walls come down -- well, some of them, anyway.


Taking Down The Tree At 94-96 Ashley

94-96 Ashley Street

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.

The Cathedral's Apse


Just liked the picture, plus it gave me the opportunity to say "catehdral's apse."

Decked out for its first official open house

54 Huntington Street

The open house is tomorrow.  The mums are a nice touch.

Here it is -- 54 Huntington Street!

54 Huntington Street

The house was ready for its close-up, so here it is, all done and on the market.

Volunteers from Trinity College start the demolition at 94 Ashley

94-96 Ashley Street

A group of Trinity College freshmen volunteered with us today as part of their freshman orientation program.  We assigned them just what 18-year-olds love to do:  demolition!  The red Xs, incidentally, mean that “it’s got to go.”

This Week's Tour: Nook Farm


Don Poland did us a huge solid and led the tour again this week.  He took our group around the Nook Farm section of Asylum Hill, which is about as far as we’ve gone on one of our tours.  He highlighted the major residents of Nook Farm (including someone named Sam and another someone named Harriet, but I didn’t quite follow him here) as well as the changes that have occurred here in the last 50 to 75 years.

Don, by the way, is the one holding his head on.

The Sunflower Plaque

54 Huntington Street

A few words on the sunflower plaque:

It was created and executed by local artist Jackie McKinney, who is a longtime Asylum Hill resident.

It’s based on the plaque next door at 181 Collins Street, further uniting the two houses in common design elements.

We believe, read air quotes here, believe that the sunflower was a particularly favorite motif of local architect George Keller, which lends credence to our theory that he designed 181 Collins Street.

And you’d almost think we picked the colors for the house to match the plaque!

This Week's Tour: Bushnell Park


Don Poland took this week’s group around Bushnell Park, highlighting the park’s history and how it relates to the surrounding architecture and environment.

Decked out for Hartford Blooms

54 Huntington Street

Intrepid Mike McGarry came out and decorated the front yard of 54 Huntington Street for Hartford Blooms. 

This Week's Tour: The I-84 Viaduct


This week, representatives from DOT led us on a tour of planned and proposed changes to the Interstate 84 Viaduct.  The viaduct, which is the elevated portion of the highway as it runs through Hartford, forms the southern border of Asylum Hill, and it’s one of the most important access points for both The Hartford and for Aetna.  This tour was arranged to answer any questions people might have about just how miserable their commute may come when the work gets started.


54 Huntington Street

So, while you were distracted by the ribbon cutting over at 207 Garden Street, we painted 54 Huntington Street.

Yes, that was deliberate.  And yes, we abandoned that first color scheme.

The Zunner Building in repose

207-213 Garden Street

We just dig buildings in twilight.

Giving the podium its due

207-213 Garden Street

Here's a better look at it.  Many thanks to the Hartford United Methodist Church!

Hey! We count, too!

207-213 Garden Street

We made the local news this evening, but we’re not bothering with the link to it because the local news media preferred to ask Governor Malloy something about state politics or some other such nonsense, blah blah blah.  They should have asked him about the building!  Which is why he was there in the first place.  Or perhaps the local news media didn’t forgive us for that podium snafu after all ….

Moving the podium

207-213 Garden Street

We did have one small snafu:  the podium was initially placed in a less than ideal location for the news media.  Fortunately, Governor Malloy drafted Mayor Bronin and Representative Ritter into action, and we had the problem solved quickly!

The podium, by the way, was provided by the Hartford United Methodist Church.

Tour after

207-213 Garden Street

After the ribbon cutting, we opened up the building for everyone to have a look.

Sho who exactly spoke?

207-213 Garden Street

Lynda Godkin, NINA’s Board Chair, served as emcee for the ceremony.  Speakers included:

Dannel Malloy, Governor, State of Connecticut

Luke Bronin, Mayor, City of Hartford

Matt Ritter, State Representative, 1st District, Connecticut General Assembly

David Robinson, General Counsel, The Hartford

Tom Dorsey, Manager, Government Affairs, Eversource Energy

Andrea Pereira, Executive Director LISC

Ken Johnson, Executive Director, NINA

Jack Ellovich, President, HCLF Board of Directors

Guests of honor included NINA’s Board of Directors:

Sean Mulready

Chris Hartley

Andrew Daly

Robert Yass

Susan Winkler

Lynn Veilleux

After the speeches, Yvonne Matthews, Chair of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association, joined in for the ribbon cutting.

Grand Opening And Ribbon Cutting At The Zunner Building

207-213 Garden Street

NINA and its partners held a grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony at the Zunner Building today.  The ceremony marked the formal conclusion of work on the building, which was NINA's biggest project (5 years, $2.5 million) to date.

The Zunner Building is an important anchor for the Asylum Hill neighborhood, and it also represents a capstone for NINA’s work on Ashley and Garden Streets.  NINA started work here 13 years ago, when it moved the Victorian Lady two doors down from the Zunner Building, and NINA also worked on 8 Ashley Street and 221 Garden Street, which both abut the Zunner Building.

We are tremendously grateful to all of our partners on this project!

Major funding for this project was provided by the State of Connecticut through its Housing Tax Credit Contribution Program, its Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, and its Urban Action Grant Program; the City of Hartford through its Façade Improvement Program and its Anti-Blight Tax Deferral Program; The Hartford, which contributes to NINA directly and also contributed to this project through the State of Connecticut’s Neighborhood Assistance Act program; Eversource Energy, which close to $1 million to this project through the State’s tax credit programs; and LISC, which provided construction financing for this project.

Getting ready for tomorrow's ribbon-cutting event

207-213 Garden Street

Nothing really noteworthy, but since we showed you this same car filled with paper lanterns, it seemed only fair to the car to show it full of chairs.

Views from the roof of the zunner Building

207-213 Garden Street

Overcast, but still nice views of downtown and Asylum Hill.

Progress at the Zunner Building

207-213 Garden Street

The Ashley Street entrance with new light.  The back entrance to 207 Garden Street with new light.  The elevator lobby. The third floor staircase with skylight.

Porch parts for 54 Huntington Street in the house!

54 Huntington Street

Literally.  They're in the house.

Side Gable Done

54 Huntington Street

The new woodwork is now in place in the side gable, and as you can see we’re starting to look at different paint colors for the house.  Also, there’s a view of 181 Collins Street and 54 Huntington Street that we haven’t shown before, looking from the corner of Collins and Huntington rather than back up the street from 54.

The elevator works!

207-213 Garden Street

I've even taken a ride on it.

Now all it needs is some paint

54 Huntington Street

Matt and Jeff have wrapped up work on the woodwork in the front gable.

New street numbers in place at 207 Garden Street

207-213 Garden Street

So long to the temporary numbers!

Work on the front gable at 54 Huntington Street

54 Huntington Street

Matt Pearce and Jeff Giddings at work on the decorative woodwork for the front gable.

Cool chimney!


Passing by as I walkd back to the office from 54 Huntington.  It's at 102 Huntington Street.

And at 54 Huntington, too!

54 Huntington Street

Siding going up on the bay window.

More progress at 207 Garden Street

207-213 Garden Street

Especially up on thie third floor, in the office.

Progress at 207 Garden Street

207-213 Garden Street

I'm starting to think we might actually pull this off!

An elevator in the Zunner building

207-213 Garden Street

And we're not the only ones happy about it.

Blast from the past

21 Ashley Street

We ahven't revisited this one in a while.  Hard to believe it's almost been 12 years.

Almost ready for tenants

207-213 Garden Street

Apartment 2C in the afternoon sunlight.  Nice.

The new entrance at 207 Garden street is done

207-213 Garden Street

Well, the exterior, anyway.

Still a good looking house

33 Sargeant Street

It's nice having this house right across the street from our office.

Around and in 207 garden Street

207-213 Garden Street

The exterior is almost finished, and the interior is taking shape as walls go up and counters and cabinets go in.  Interior views include

Apartment 1A kitchen

New staircase on Ashley Street side

Apartment 2B kitchen

Apartment 2B foyer

Christmas in Apartment 2C

3rd floor office


Caroling in the Park


It’s officially a holiday tradition in Sigourney Square Park!  Also, we are extremely grateful that Santa is back this year.  Last year’s imposter was the worst.  Truly, truly the worst.  Got to admit, though, really not sure what to make of elves on stilts.

Photos by Bernie Michel.

Security lights on huntington Street


Our neighbor Jonathan Clark has installed new security lights on the front of his house.  These lights, which are motion activated, are designed to draw attention to some of the illegal activity that goes on across the street from him at an apartment building next to a vacant lot.  It’s never fun to note that there are problems in the neighborhood, but Jonathan is an excellent example of a civically minded resident who is actively engaged in raising the quality of life in Asylum Hill.  He’s partnered with HPD’s Community Service Officer for Asylum Hill, and we’re confident that the issues he’s confronting will not withstand his and HPD’s scrutiny.

And there pretty bright lights, too!

New lights at the zunner building

207-213 Garden Street

New gooseneck lights are up at 207 Garden Street.

A front walk, a driveway, and practically a house


We're down to the porch rail and the exterior paint at this point.  Also, we like the view of The Hartford in the background -- The Hartford has supported this house with funds and volunteers, and it shows that they are quite literally our neighbor on this project.

All the difference in the World

207-213 Garden Street

It's long been a part of NINA's strategy that a restored facade can make a world of difference on the neighborhood.  Instead of driving by a gloomy, dour, rundown building, people coming into Hartford now see this beauty.  It dramatically improves the perception of the neighborhood, and it's why we always work from the outside in.

Copper flashing and more paint on a gloomy evening in Asylum Hill

54 Huntington Street

It's gloomy in Asylum Hill, but 54 Huntington Street is helping to brighten up.  First, new copper flashing was put into place on the roof, and even in the low light it really stands out.  And then our paint swatch grew, so now we have a really good sense of what these colors will look like.

We're thinking, um, no, not so much.

Art In The Neighborhood


At the AHNA monthly meeting this evening, Georges Annan-Kingsley presented a painting to the neighborhood.  This painting was commissioned by The Hartford, and it will be translated into a much larger format and hung on the Collins Street side of The Hartford's new parking garage.  Georges, an immigrant from Cote d'Ivoire, is an internationally known artist, and he has been very active in Asylum Hill.

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!

Sampling paint colors on 54 huntington street

54 Huntington Street

Best way to choose paint colors:  paint a swatch!

A visit to Spring Grove Cemetery


As we've been reading up on the history of Asylum Hill, we've come across several important people, some of whom will be known to a larger audience but most of whom will not.  Today, we decided to take a ride up to Spring Grove Cemetery, in Hartford's North End, to see if we could find some of them:


  • Lydia Sigourney:  the "Sweet Singer of Hartford" was the first woman to make a living as a published poet in the United States.  She empurpled many of her poems, so much so that they don't hold up so well today, but they were all the rage in Hartford in the mid- to late 19th century.  We consider her the namesake for both Sigourney Street and Sigourney Square Park, but we're finding indications that Sigourney Street may have existed before Lydia's poetry did -- stay tuned -- but she was a resident of the Hill and contributed to the neighborhood's identity.
  • Frederick Mahl:  a prolific builder in the second half of the 19th century, he built close to a dozen houses on Ashley Street including at least two NINA homes, 47 and 51 Ashley Street.  He may also have built 30 Ashley Street, but we haven't quite confirmed that yet.
  • Henry Green:  a recent discovery of ours, Henry was a glassblower turned "roetgenologist" who made significant contributions to the history of medicine.  Unlike Horace Wells, the oft celebrated Hartforder who may or may not have maybe sort of kind of discovered the anesthetic properties of nitrous oxide, Henry created glass vacuum tubes that focused X-rays and turned them into the practical diagnostic tool that they are today.  He also invented a coin-operated public X-ray machine, but we'll leave that one aside for now!


Hartford truly has a rich and amazing history that matches its richly diverse and amazing present.  We'll be running our summer walking tours again in 2016, and you should definitely consider coming out on one or all of them!  And we're also going to start looking for ways to promote some more of this history we're learning.  As we said above:  stay tuned!

Attack of the Giant broccoli monster!


So we were over at 207 Garden Street taking more pictures of the new brick facade, when we noticed this giant broccoli attempting to devour a nearby house -- okay, so maybe we're a little loopey at the moment, but seriously:  doesn't that tree look like a giant head of broccoli?

The Zunner Building Bricked Up

207-213 Garden Street

The new facade is all bricked up.  Close-up shots are from the lower rooftoop.  Also included are views of and from 221 Garden Street.  It's truly amazing how far a little facade work can go.

Stormy Evening on Ashley Street


A storm rolled in this evening, an excuse for some dramatic shots.

Painting and port posts at 54 Huntington

54 Huntington Street

The painters have started and the porch posts are in the basement, waiting to be installed.

Not so much the rear of the building anymore

207-213 Garden Street

The facade for the newly enclosed portion of the building is nearing completion.  We think it's going to look quite smart as people pull into the parking lot and come to live or do business here.

The roses again


Okay, probably this time I’m just showing off that we have roses blooming and you don’t.

NINA on the wall at AHCC!


With apologies for the out-of-focus photos:  it's Monday night, it's the first Monday of the month, so it must be a meeting of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church.  There in the background you can see their latest exhibit (the last one was quilts), and it displays before and after photos of restored historic properties in the neighborhood.  Six of them are NINA homes, although being completely fair one of them is not a historic restoration.

AHCC has been a tremendous supporter of our work specifically and of the neighborhood's revitalization more generally.  Asylum Hill is very lucky to have a partner like AHCC!

A rose blooms at veeder place


It's October, and here's a gorgeous rose bloom outside Veeder Place's front door.  Even as we're closer to winter than to spring, we still enjoy reminders of what's to come.

Progress at 207 garden street

207-213 Garden Street

A stroll through 207 Garden Street, showing some of the progress we've made on:

  • the retail space at 207
  • Apartment 1A
  • the 2nd Floor hallway
  • Apartment 2B
  • the new staircase on the west side of the building
  • Apartment 2C
  • the 2nd Floor hallway from the other side
  • the elevator shaft
  • the 3rd floor office, hallway, and stairwell
  • the seldom seen (and rightly so) basement

And then views of the newly paved parking lot.  The building is really coming together now!

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.

Getting ready for the consecration


Our partners on this project, Asylum Hill Congregational Church, plans to hold a consecration ceremony for 54 Huntington Street on Sunday.  We put out some fall flowers today to add a splash of "home" to the house, and as you can see around the house, we've also graded the land as we prepare to install the landscaping and pavement.

The front porch and the sunflower plaque


Jeff Giddings at work on the front porch.  Around the corner, on the north side of the house, there's a space where we will install a sunflower plaque, which is now finished and over at the house.  The plaque, prepared by local artist Jackie McKinney, takes a sunflower plaque on the west side of 181 Collins Street as its inspiration.  Rumor has it that the sunflower was a particular favorite of George Keller, whence our theory that 181 Collins is a Keller house.

The front porch advances


The front porch is shaping up nicely.  A few glimpses inside as well, and a look at the back porch, too.

The View from roof at 207 garden Street


A few shots of the roof, plus progress on the elevator.

Bricking Up the zunner building


The elevator corridors on the 2nd and 3rd floors have taken shape, and now we're adding brick to the facade.

Time to unpack


The new carpet is in, and the walls are fully painted.

The New Digs! Sort of


All of our stuff is in our new office on the third floor, but we still have some improvements to make before we can truly settle in.

We bought a new cart!


It's the little things in life, really.  We have settled on a new space for our offices up on the third floor of Veeder Place, and we bought this new cart to facilitate our move upstairs.

The New 195 Sargeant Street


The new exterior at 195 Sargeant.

A new View emerging for 207 Garden Street and the neighborhood


The demolition of the Fraser Place Garage proceeds apace, and already we can catch a glimpse of what the new view will be once the parking garage is gone.

Starting Work on the Parking lot for 207 Garden Street


Work started today on the parking lot for 207 Garden Street.  We think this will be a big benefit for the building, which has lacked off-street parking since it was first constructed in 1926.

Looks like we're about to move


Well, it looks like we're going to have to move our office!  The landlords have told us that OPP wants our space, so we're currently looking at other office space in Veeder Place as our possible new office.  As we looked, we realized that we've never really shown you what our current (soon to be former?) offices look like, so here's a peek inside NINA.

It's a big space -- but up until only recently we've always had a co-tenant in here with us.  Previous co-tenants included the Connecticut AIDS Resource Coalition, Central AHEC, and, most recently, Platform to Employment.

More Progress at 54 Huntington


More siding on the exterior, plus granite countertops in the kitchen, hardwood floor on the 1st floor, light fixtures, interior paint, tile in the 2nd floor bathorom, and a new boiler and tankless water heater in the basement.  The bathroom floor tile, by the way, came from 1 Imlay Street:  it was the first tile ordered by the homeowners there, and when they proved not to like it as much they donated it to us for use here.

Liam McGee Memorial Park


The Hartford hosted a concert today at Liam McGee Memorial Park.  This park, which is the campus of the old Connecticut Mutual Insurance Company, serves as a park, an exercise trail, and a space for contemplation for employees of The Hartford.  The Hartford dedicated this park in honor of Liam McGee on May 15.

This Week's Tour: The Street on Which I live


This week's tour was a journey!  Frank Hagaman led us on a tour of the street he used to live on, really off of:  Capitol Avenue.  Frank highlighted all of the new development along Capitol Avenue and how important a vibrant commercial district can be, even one as small as the one on Capitol Ave.

More Views from the top of the tower


We got a longer trip to the top of the Tower Building at The Hartford today, and we got some nice shots of Asylum Hill and Hartford.

Painting at 195 Sargeant Street


Painting of the exterior at 195 Sargeant Street is underway.  NINA worked with the homeowner here to provide paint and a new color palette as part of our work finishing up on 199 Sargeant Street, our project right next door to 195.  The house will now have a more traditionally Victorian color palette, and we enjoyed working with the homeowner to make this happen.

This Week's Tour: Gospels in Stone


This week, Mary Falvey took us around the churches of Asylum Hill.  This tour is a perennial favorite, and as an extra treat we got to see the inside of Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

New Kitchen at 54 Huntington


Here the house starts to become a home.

Bird's eye view of 54 huntington

54 Huntington Street

It's good to have friends with high places!  These shots are from the 24th floor of The Hartford's office tower, and they offer a fun perspective on our work at 54 Huntington Street as well as how it fits into the neighborhood.  Also included is a terrific view looking west, taking in the whole of the campus of Saint Francis Hospital.

The end is nigh for the parking garage


Wrecking equipment has been moved into place across the street from 207 Garden Street, and the demolition of the parking garage on Fraser Place is imminent.

Work Begins on the Staircases at the zunner building

207-213 Garden Street

These photos are looking down from the third floor.  The stairs at the bottom of the well are the stairs coming in from the outside.  The landings, which mark the halfway point between floors, remain in place.

New Trees in the Neighborhood

156-158 Sargeant Street

A group of volunteers from The Hartford came out today to plant new trees in Asylum Hill for Arbor Day.  We helped to line up some homes looking for trees for this event, and one of the interested homeowners was at 156 Sargeant Street.  They were looking to establish a natural buffer between their property and Sigourney Street, and they were very happy to receive their new trees.  Trees were provided by Knox Parks, and additional trees went in all along Sargeant Street.

Staircase in at 54 huntington

54 Huntington Street

The new staircase at 54 Huntington, looking fabulous!

Progress at 54 Huntington

54 Huntington Street

Progress at 54 Huntington:

An exterior shot showing the beginnings of the front porch

A look into the kitchen

A look up the staircase (not for the fainthearted!)

The front bedroom, with light fixtures ready to be installed

The rear bedroom

The third floor bonus space

Progress at 207 garden street

207-213 Garden Street

Work underway on 207 Garden:

New subfloor in the 207 commercial space

Peeks at the second and third floors

The new hallway from the apartments to the elevator shaping up

The new entrance and lobby to the apartments and offices

And, of course, a look up the elevator shaft!

staircases at the zunner building

207-213 Garden Street

We're getting ready to restore the staircases at 207 Garden Street, so we headed over today to capture the original staircases for posterity and for the contractor who will do the restoration work on the stairs.  A lot of the treads and risers will have to be replaced, but we will be meticulous in our effort to ensure it will retain the same look and feel as the original.

While we were there, we strolled through the gutted second and third floors and snapped a couple of photos there, too.  The big hole in the floor in two of the pictures is going to be new access to the basement in the 207 commercial unit.

Also, we included two extreme close-ups of the curved risers on one of the staircases from behind.  These shots give a rare glimpse into carpentry from almost 100 years ago.

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.

A Sad day in gingerbreadville

1 Imlay Street

It's a sad day today at NINA, as we had to say good-bye to the gingerbread version of 1 Imlay Street.  We knew this day would come, but we were compelled to reach it today because of signs of deterioration in the confectionary as well as signs of curious mice having visited overnight.

It departs via NINA's current project, 54 Huntington Street.  We'll miss it, but it will live on forever in bloggy digital heaven!

A Bird's eye view of 207 garden

207-213 Garden Street

Thanks to Ray Marcotte at The Hartford, we were afforded an opportunity to take some photos of 207 Garden Street from a unique vantage point:  the top of The Hartford's Fraser Place parking garage.  It's also a view that won't exist much longer, as The Hartford is right now completing environmental remediation on the structure as a prelude to demolishing it.

Roof is on, and siding is underway

54 Huntington Street

Progress at 54 Huntington.

Coming Soon: A magic Elevator ride

207-213 Garden Street

Work on the new elevator at 207 Garden Street progresses steadily.  This represents a substantial addition to the buildilng, not just by making it much more accessible to future occupants but also in terms of sheer volume.  The blue tarp seen in these pictures hides the former "gangway" access to the fire escape, while the clear plastic protects the new elevator shaft.  The cinder block addition is the future new entrance to the apartments on the first and second floor and the offices on the third -- eventually, we will cover the cinder blocks in yellow brick to match the building's facade on Garden Street.

This is an enormous undertaking!  It is also one we couldn't have taken without funding from the State of Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development and the support of Representative Matt Ritter.

A closer look at 1 imlay rendered in gingerbread

1 Imlay Street

How much for fun is this?  The gingerbread version of 1 Imlay Street now resides at NINA's offices, and so we are able to present now a much, much closer look at this masterpiece of the culinary arts.  The team that put this together did an extraordinary job, and we're pretty sure it was robbed of its deserved victory at the auction!


54 Huntington Street

A walk around the interior, now that the floor plan has fully emerged.

2014-12-17 Gingerbread Version of 1 imlay takes second place

1 Imlay Street

Mike Marshall at Aetna informed us today that the gingerbread version of 1 Imlay Street came in second place at Aetna’s charity auction, with a bid of $250.  The $250 will go to Hartford Habitat for Humanity as a charitable donation.  Just one more example of how much non-profit peers and our corporate partners can accomplish together!

First Look down the pipeline


One of our members, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center, is giving us property for Christmas!  115 Sigourney Street and 117 Sigourney Street have long been part of the City of Hartford's Lead Abatement Program.  A non-profit that managed the program had its offices on the first floor of 115, and then the second floor of 115 and all of the units in 117 were temporary living quarters for Hartford families whose apartments required lead remediation, since that work can be so toxic that no one without EPA-approved gear should be around it.  The City recently decided to go in a different direction for its lead abatement program, so the non-profit closed up shop, and Saint Francis Hospital, the owner of the buildings, was left wondering what to do with them.  Naturally, they thought immediately of us!

We don't know much about the buildings yet, but as we start to plan for their restoration we will quickly learn a lot.  We didn't want to keep you from your first view of them, though!  They are so early in our pipeline, we haven't even been inside yet.

1 Imlay -- Rendered in Gingerbread!

1 Imlay Street

How cool is this?  Our executive director came across this today, 1 Imlay Street rendered in gingerbread by a group of Aetna employees.  Their project is part of a charity auction that will be held to raise money for local Hartford non-profits.

Aetna employees have been walking by our work at 1 Imlay for quite some time now, and we're very pleased that our work has inspired them.

One more note on that new measurement for asylum Hill

1 Imlay Street

One of the people who stopped by for the open house today was Karen Pannone, architect with Clohessy Harris & Kaiser.  After our bosses came to their agreement on the height the windows should be, Karen was dispatched to meet me and to take the measurements for the third floor windows.  So, while I may have been the measure, it was really Karen who set the standard!

Photo by Bernie Michel.

Open House at 1 imlay

1 Imlay Street

We didn’t hold an open house for 1 Imlay because we were under contract long before we finished the house, so today, in partnership with the new owners, we opened the house to our friends and neighbors from Asylum Hill.

About 75-80 people attended, and most of them, including two descendants of the original homeowner, were Aetna employees.  This was  a great opportunity for us to show off the house and talk about our future plans for the Nook Farm section of Asylum Hill.

Aetna’s support and contributions to this project have been invaluable, and we are extremely grateful that Aetna continues to be such an active partner with us in the revitalization of Asylum Hill.

Since we were hosts, we weren't able to take any photos, but Bernie Michel was able to swing by and snap some pics as we were setting up for the shindig.

Volunteers from the Hartford at work on 54 Huntington

54 Huntington Street

A group of volunteers from The Hartford came down today to help out with hanging drywall at 54 Huntington Street.  They were members of Andy Daly's team, and Andy is a member of the NINA Board of Directors.

Autumn sky over the zunner building


A new facade can make all the difference.

Sunlight: Always Cheery!


Inside NINA's offices, which are on the north side of Veeder Place, the autumn sun still found a way to brighten our day.

nook farm's glamorous new home

1 Imlay Street

A dreary fall evening.  A warm, inviting new home in Asylum Hill.

Progress at 54 Huntington


Progress shots from 54 Huntington Street.

A new unit of measurement for asylum hill

1 Imlay Street

In case you've ever wondered whether any single person could have an oddball effect on anything, here's the proof of it!

Way back when, when we were working with the architects to design the restoration of 1 Imlay Street, a disagreement over how high the windows on the third floor should be.  One side argued for very tall, while the other side lobbied for much, much shorter.  A compromise was agreed to:  NINA's program, an average person of average height, would be able to look out the window without having to bend down.  Thus, a new unit of measurement was born!  Whatever you want to call it, the windows at 1 Imlay are now one unit of it.

What makes this truly an oddball effect is that the program manager is notorious for never standing up straight ...

Infrastructure complete

54 Huntington Street

A view of 54 Huntington Street ready for the exterior finish to go on, top to bottom.

Quilts on display at asylum Hill congregational church


We were lucky enough at tonight's AHNA meeting to have a view of the quilts on display at AHCC.

Rarely Seen sides of 1 imlay

1 Imlay Street

Not sure why, but we hardly ever show the north and west sides of 1 Imlay -- so here they are!

Look at this tree!


At the western end of the Veeder Place property, 20 Sargeant Street.

The Trusses are up and other developments at 54 huntington

54 Huntington Street

A beautiful autumn day in Asylum Hill.  Perfect day to take some artsy shots of shadows cast by trusses!

More Progress at 1 imlay

1 Imlay Street

Some shots of the interior at 1 Imlay, showing more progress on the restoration.

You can't say we didn't try


A view of lanterns in the windows at 207 Garden Street.

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 florescent flashlights and tin foil.

We estimate that around 125 people attended the event.  Attendees had a good time watching great performances by Sankofa Kuumba and Hartford's Proud Drill, Dance & Drum Corp and then 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.  The Hartford Public Works Department helped with the set-up, dispatching a bucket truck and crew to help string the lights across the interior of the park, and we had the supportive presence of the Hartford Police Department and our Community Service Officer, Chris Chanaca.
That's the official description.  As for the real description, well, things could've gone a little better!  For the most part, though, the event went well, and everyone had fun, but we definitely learned a few things.  We got our first hint of things to come this morning, as we transported the lanterns from our office to the park.  It was absolutely the right idea to assemble them all well ahead of time and in the controlled interior environment of our office, but we didn't think far enough ahead to realize that all of those lanterns might night fit so well in a car!  Made for some interesting photos at least.
And what did we learn?  First, it wouldn't have been nearly as bright in the park 100 years ago:  streetlights, porch lights, spot lights, traffic lights all proliferate in and around the park, and really we should have factored all of these lights into our plans.  Our LEDs, environmentally sound as they are, were simply overwhelmed by all of the ambient light.  Second, we set the performers up along the edge of the park in order to reach the municipal power outlets, but that also meant that the performers were right along Sigourney Street, a very busy and noisy thoroughfare through the neighborhood.  And last, many of the attendees claimed the 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.
We may try this again at some point in the future, after we recover from this experience, but it's going to come down to whether we can find a lighting system that's really, really bright and that's sufficiently cost effective that we won't take a big hit if the lights then walk away.
Additional photos here by Bernie Michel.

Ready or not, here they come


With the help of some very speedy volunteers, we got our lanterns assembled today.  We'll have more volunteers tomorrow who will help us string them up in the park.

A guide to assembling lanterns for illumination Night


For future reference as well as for a look behind the scenes -- based on our test run and our rehearsal, we decided that we first needed a bigger and brighter light and second that the addition of some aluminum foil inside the lantern would brighten the interior of the lantern and prevent the light from dispersing out of it.  It's a long shot, but this show will go on!

A Peek Inside the Cathedral of Saint Joseph


Today we got to go inside the Cathedral of Saint Joseph -- we had a tour led by Mark Saur, an Asylum Hill resident and parishioner at St. Joe's for over 30 years.

Getting On toward the roof!

54 Huntington Street

Framing for the third floor -- or "second and a half" floor, or the attic -- is underway, and with it the gables are plainly visible.  These were designed to follow the gables at 181 Collins Street (which we still say was designed by George Keller, but that's for another day), and we think we've succeeded.  Photos here include shots of the exterior, shots from the top floor, and shots from the interior, where the rooms are framed and the floor plan can now be followed.

Kitchen Going in & Other work at 1 Imlay

1 Imlay Street

The kitchen has started to go in at 1 Imlay Street, and along with it we are working on some of the other finishing touches, primarily flooring.  The tile has been installed in the bathrooms, the hardword floors are being sanded, and the new main staircase is ready for its new stain.

More to the second floor

54 Huntington Street

Onward and upward!

On to the second floor

54 Huntington Street

One week in, and we're humming along.

Raising The Wall At 54 Huntington Street

54 Huntington Street

Today we held a "wall raising" event to honor our partners and to kick off construction of the house.  The wall raisers included, from left to right in the photos:

Matt Laney, Senior Minister, Asylum Hill Congregational Church

Donna Manocchio, Associate Minister, Asylum Hill Congregational Church

Bill Russell, Asylum Hill Congregational Church

Valerio Giadone, Project Architect

Dulcie Giadone, Chair, Housing Committee, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association

Jennifer Cassidy, Chair, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association

Tony Mein, Chair, Education Committee, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association

Ted Carroll, Moderator, Asylum Hill Congregational Church & Executive Director, Leadership Greater Hartford

Diane Cantello, Vice President, Corporate Social Responsibility, The Hartford

Andrew Daly, Assistant Vice President and Counsel, The Hartford & Member, NINA Board of Directors

Robert Yass, Vice President, Government Affairs, The Hartford & Member, NINA Board of Directors

Ken Johnson, Executive Director, NINA

They were ably guided in this endeavor by Mike Stockman and Jeff Giddings, who can be seen at different points in the foreground and the side of the action, respectively.

Following the ceremony, a group of volunteers from The Hartford pitched in to frame the first floor of the house, and by the end of the day we had the beginnings of something resembling a home!



The Cap is on!

54 Huntington Street

The carpenters have capped the foundation at 54 Huntington, which is to say that the house now has a first floor.  There are even steps onto the cap, which are where the front door will be, eventually, and the hole in the cap is where the stairs into the basement will go.  Tomorrow we will have a special "wall raising" ceremony, which will mark a milestone in our construction schedule and honor our partners on this project.

Yikes! Dress Rehearsal Goes Even Less Well!


Oh, my, but our prospects don't look good!  Tonight we had some friends and neighbors place our lanterns on their porches, which was a simulation of what they would've done on the first Illumination Night.  Unfortunately, we're not using candles like they would have (or maybe that's fortunate!), and the environmentally friendly LEDs we're using just aren't producing the lumens we were hoping for.  Ah, well, we're in for the event now, no matter what!

Bilco Doors and Final Preparations for the House to come

54 Huntington Street

The bilco doors are in, which means the foundation is now complete.  From here, we can start work on the house to come!  Further signs that we're getting ready:  there's an actual power meter in place now (and again, probably not that exciting, but how often do you see a meter set to 0?) and our storage container is on site, too.

Ready for Power at 54 Huntington Street -- Plus a few views that won't exist for much longer

54 Huntington Street

Okay, so maybe a photo of where a temporary power meter will go isn't all that exciting, but this occasion marks the official unveiling of our street number:  54!  The views from the basement won't exist for much longer because, of course, we're about to put a cap on the foundation.

Today's Tour -- The Street On Which I Live


Frank Hagaman of the Hartford Preservation Alliance led an enormous group down Farmington Avenue, the street on which he lives, today.  Frank extolled the virtues of city living while also discussing the future of economic development along the all-important Farmington Avenue Business Corridor.

The front walk goes in at 1 imlay -- and the back walk, too

1 Imlay Street

Our paving contractor started work on the front and back walks at 1 Imlay Street today.  The design and materials were selected in consulation with the future homeowners.

The Carpenters Go to work

54 Huntington Street

Jeff Giddings and Matt Pearce began work this morning by having a look at the newly set foundation, and then this afternoon they were installing the first beam that will support the house above.  Also included one artsy shot (because we must!) that is of the forms into which the concrete was poured, now prepped for transport to their next job.

And the walls go up!

54 Huntington Street

At least on the basement!  Views are from the future front and rear of the house.  The two beams sticking up from the rear wall mark where the bilco doors into the basement will go.

Uh-Oh, Our Test Run doesn't bode well!


We took our lanterns for a test run tonight.  We darkened the porch as much as possible.  You can see the results for yourself, but this doesn't look good for the main event!

The Foundation is poured

54 Huntington Street

We started pouring the foundation today -- views include the crew at work as well as shots overlooking today's completed work from the southwest corner (future front of the house), the east (future rear of the house), and west (future front of the house).

Today's Tour -- Gospels in Stone


Mary Falvey of the Hartford Preservation Alliance led a group around the four major churches on the Hill today.  Mary focused on how the churches' architecture spoke to their congregants as well as to passersby, and then she took the group into the Cathedral of Saint Joseph.  The other churches on the tour were Asylum Hill Congregational Church, Asylum Avenue Baptist Church, and Trinity Episcopal Church.

Now That's Broken Ground!

54 Huntington Street

We now have a proper hole at 54 Huntington Street.  Next step will be to pour the foundation.


Views from outside of the hole are looking west toward Huntington Street, from what will be the rear of the house.  Views from inside the hole are looking east toward the rear of the house and north up at 182 Collins Street, which was the inspiration for the design of our new house.

Ground Broken on our next new house

54 Huntington Street

It's not much, but it's a start!  The earth-moving equipment is on site, and the first shovelfulls of earth have been removed.  We're looking forward to getting started on our second new construction project, our first since completing 33 Sargeant Street back in 2011.

Today's Tour -- Inside Aetna


Today, Larry Gallmeier led our intrepid group of neighborhood explorers on a walk through Aetna.  A highlight of the tour was the vault:  a massive concrete structure with an even more massive, multi-ton door!   Word is (unconfirmed) that the vault was the first thing built in the building back in 1930, and then the rest of the building was built around it.


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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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!

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!

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.

NINA in the news!


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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.)

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!

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.

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!

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.

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!

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!

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!