Donations sought to save old house

The Greek Revival house at 94 Ocean Ave. was slated for demolition, but Dick Humphreville, a former member of the city's Historic District Commission, hopes to move it to a new location.
The Greek Revival house at 94 Ocean Ave. was slated for demolition, but Dick Humphreville, a former member of the city's Historic District Commission, hopes to move it to a new location. Photo courtesy of Sandra Kersten Chalk

New London - Dick Humphreville will not be deterred from trying to save an 1828 Greek Revival house on Ocean Avenue that is slated for demolition.

Since he launched his mission in September to save the 185-year-old house at 94 Ocean Ave., volunteers have stepped forward, he said, but now they need money.

"We have a major snafu going on,'' said Humphreville, a former member of the city's Historic District Commission. "We're trying to raise money. We're going to need upwards of $10,000."

He is in the process of dismantling the house and plans to put it into storage. He wants to eventually sell the building and use the profits to save other endangered buildings in the city.

New London Landmarks has agreed to accept donations on Humphreville's behalf. The organization stepped in to help after realizing the historic value of the home, which was built by Isaac Thompson, an entrepreneur involved in starting up the Savings Bank of New London, the Union Insurance Co., the New London Female Academy and an early ferry company.

One of the home's first tenants was Daniel Penhallow, a stonemason whose work reportedly was in demand during the city's whaling era.

Cash will be needed, Humphreville said, for an architectural layout of the land, once a spot is found to rebuild, and for installing sewers and electrical wiring and for work on the chimney, clapboards, roof and windows.

"We don't need it right away,'' Humphreville said Thursday. "But we will need money to save this Greek Revival."

The house is owned by Saos LLC, and the owners of the abutting Ocean Pizza want to tear it down to make way for a driveway leading to a new rear parking lot.

The pizza business owners, who have been in the city for 50 years, agreed to sell the building for $1 if someone would remove it.

Humphreville, who has moved other historic buildings, wants to re-assemble the house somewhere in the city and get it on the tax rolls.

"I am passionate about this,'' he said. "I love the old buildings of New London. It's the only buildings I'll work on but I need the community to be involved."

Sandra Chalk, executive director of Landmarks, said the building could be used as a visitors' center or a small guest house.

"It will be possible to reconstruct the building,'' Chalk said. "There are possibilities."

k.edgecomb@theday.com

To make a donation

Donations can be made at www.newlondonmarks.org and should designated for the Ocean Avenue House. Checks also may be sent to Landmarks, 49 Washington St., New London, CT 06320.

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