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    Monday, March 04, 2024

    Petitioners try to save Waterford farmhouse from demolition

    A sign in front of the Nichols Farmhouse/William H. Putnam house, located at 80 Shore Road, on Oct. 31, 2023, indicates that its owners have submitted an application for it to be demolished. The property is part of the Hartford Colony Historic District, an area that was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. (Photo by Daniel Drainville/The Day)
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    Contractors working in front of the Nichols Farmhouse/William H. Putnam house, located at 80 Shore Road, on Oct. 31, 2023. The property, which was built c. 1850, is part of the Hartford Colony Historic District, an area that was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. (Photo by Daniel Drainville/The Day)
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    Waterford ― A group of concerned residents is circulating a petition to get help to stop their neighbors from demolishing a historic farmhouse purchased a few months ago.

    Robert J. Marelli Jr., founder and president of Waterford-based sheet metal fabricators Seconn Fabrication, and Susan S. Marelli, purchased The Nichols Farmhouse/William H. Putnam house at 80 Shore Road in June for $1.275 million, according to town records.

    The farmhouse is part of the Hartford Colony Historic District, which is an area that was included on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

    It was built circa 1850, according to the 2004 application.

    Marelli Jr. filed an application with the town Sept. 28 for a permit to demolish the building. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

    Neighbor Domitilla Enders, 66, who grew up in the historic district, recalled a time several decades ago when Marcela Putnam, the last Putnam who lived there, allowed her and the other kids to run freely on the property. She opposes the demolition of the farmhouse, citing its historic value as the “centerpiece” of the community.

    “I don’t think anybody wants to infringe on private property rights, we just want there to be a respect for history,” she said.

    A petition is circulating online that now has at least 500 signatures to save the farmhouse. According to change.org, the plan is to send the petition to the state Historic Preservation Office and Preservation Connecticut, a nonprofit.

    Additionally, the state Historic Preservation Council is expected to meet next Wednesday to consider asking the attorney general to intervene and stop the demolition of The Nichols Farmhouse/William H. Putnam house.

    The process to object to the demolition of a historic building is outlined in town ordinance 15.20.030, which defines a “historic structure” as any building more than 50 years old.

    Once Marelli Jr. submitted the application, he had to wait 30 days to receive the demolition permit. He was also required within seven days to notify all neighbors within 150 feet of the property of the demolition by mail.

    There’s one objection on file in Town Hall with the Building Department against the demolition, which now extends the deadline for the permit to Nov. 26.

    Enders said Tuesday that “time is of the essence” to save the farmhouse. She said the required sign to inform the public of the pending demolition permit on the property was barely visible from the street for the first 10 days it was posted.

    “My understanding of the ordinance was that it was to give the public a period of time to comment or raise concern,” Enders said. “The public can’t do that if they can’t see the sign. That means the public doesn’t know ― so there were 10 extra days.”

    Enders said she recognized that “sometimes houses have to be demolished because it’s rotten and it’s not salvageable,” but said the house is in good condition, and that its previous owner rewired and replumbed it in 1997.

    d.drainville@theday.com

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