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    Op-Ed
    Saturday, July 20, 2024

    A plan for New London

    Downtown New London suffered (historically) from Benedict Arnold having burned it down in 1781. We lost a lot of our colonial character, but with the coming of the new Coast Guard Museum, as well as the rare preservation of one of the only railroad stations built by Henry Hobson Richardson, State Street can make a comeback.

    As a native of New London, I'd like to propose a solution to the loss of the First Congregational Church that recently collapsed, as well as offer a dignified re-use of the property.

    A historical preservation grant from the U.S. government for $1.5 million (closely monitored) is my suggested budget. If any surplus is accrued, it will be returned to the U.S. government.

    1) On the brick wall of the Crocker House (diagonally across the street from the church property) there is a small bronze plaque that states, "This is the original site of the Nathan Hale School House.“

    2) The Williams Street Park displays a statue of Nathan Hale, which was created by a famous sculptor by the name of Frederick William MacMonnies. An exact copy of this statue (by him) resides in The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City at the bequest of Mary Stillman Harkness, whose name adorns Harkness Chapel and the Harkness Dormitory at Connecticut College. The granite ring surrounding the statue was a border for a water fountain that was the focal point of the park. A new fountain will replace the original one.

    3) There are several churches in New London currently available for sale.

    4) The Connecticut College dormitory at the Manwaring Building, which abuts the church property, is in need of mason repair.

    5) The city of New London needs to be reimbursed for emergency services regarding the collapse of the church.

    This is my plan:

    The Church Property is cleared, the Nathan Hale Schoolhouse is permanently placed on that property.

    The statue of Nathan Hale is placed in front of the schoolhouse. Two flag poles are placed in front. One is the U.S. flag, and the other is the state of Connecticut flag.

    A new fountain would be placed in the Williams Street Park.

    The city is paid, and the adjacent Connecticut College wall is repaired.

    A replacement church is purchased and given to the displaced congregation.

    State Street becomes historically revived.

    Brian McCarthy is a New London native, a Connecticut College graduate and a retired artist and antique dealer. He lives in New London.

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