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    Monday, November 28, 2022

    Hamilton Street in New London loses century-old building

    New London ― A small, century-old building near Fort Trumbull is nearly demolished.

    The building, adjacent to the train tracks, was one of three buildings on 77 Hamilton St., a parcel of land owned by William Von Winkle.

    Built in 1910, the 3,982 square foot structure once housed the Hopson & Chapin Manufacturing Company. Hopson & Chapin made heating systems such as the Pequot Boiler, patented in 1887. The building was later used as storage for Miner and Alexander Lumber and Co.

    Von Winkle said Tuesday the building was ugly and beyond repair.

    He has been owner of the property since 2019 when it was quit claimed for $1 by then owners Howard-Hamilton Corporation, said City Clerk Jonathan Ayala.

    City Building Inspector Jamie Salmon said the city’s blight inspector had received complaints regarding a partial roof collapse in November 2021 and the owner was instructed to install fencing to protect it from trespassers and to apply for permits to repair or demolish the building. Both inspectors visited the property.

    “Prior to its demolition, I would have classed it as seriously dilapidated,” Salmon said in an email Wednesday.

    The city’s Historic Commission unanimously voted to not impose a six-month delay on the demolition of the building during a meeting on Dec. 15, 2021.

    According to the meeting minutes, Von Winkle was present. He said the property was previously storage for a lumber yard, but has not been used for 40 years.

    “He plans on planting grass once the building is removed. The demolition will take place at a time when it is not busy at Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock,” the minutes said.

    Laura Natusch, Executive Director of New London Landmarks said the building is a remnant of an era when manufacturing kept New London afloat as the whaling industry died down.

    "It hurts to lose this piece of history, but because of its location in a flood plain and its proximity to the train tracks, it would have been a challenge to save it even before it fell into such disrepair,“ said Natusch.

    Not on the National Register for Historical Places, the building had no designated protection from demolition.

    The other two buildings on 77 Hamilton St. remain intact. There are no land use files or pending applications for the address, according to the city’s Development and Planning Office.

    Von Winkle once owned several properties in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood, an area that was cleared of homes and businesses as part of a plan developed by the city and its development arm, New London Development Corporation― the predecessor of the Renaissance City Development Association― in the late 1990s to help jump-start economic development in association with the construction of Pfizer’s research headquarters.

    He was a plaintiff and among other property owners who refused to sell in the U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London. The court ruled in favor of New London and its use of eminent domain to seize the properties.

    Salmon said a rear storage building at 150 Howard St. across the street is also set for demolition and he said it has had an approved demolition permit since June 7, 2022.

    j.vazquez@theday.com

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