Skip to main content

Danbury Preservation Trust Records

Identifier: MS 039

Scope and Content Note

The records of the Danbury Preservation Trust span the years 1978-1997. The 1966 National Historic Preservation Act broadened the National Register of Historic Places to include sites of local and state significance, established a grant-in-aid program for Register sites, and survey and planning activities. As a result of this Act, Connecticut began statewide surveys to identify sites of architectural and historical significance. First and foremost, sites and districts were to be identified before they could become part of the community's planning process.

Since the Connecticut Historical Commission placed a high priority on funding well-prepared survey and planning applications, DPT began a series of surveys to identify structures that might be included on the National Register. The bulk of this collection consists of Architectural and Historic Resources Inventories that were conducted by the Trust between 1979 and 1986. The surveys involve the preparation of a form on each building in the survey area. The survey details physical and structural information on the building, its present ownership and status, its relationship with its surroundings and its historic and architectural value. In addition, the surveys were helpful to qualify homeowners for federal and state rehabilitation grant programs. The majority of the surveys contain a small black and white photograph of the structure.

All surveys include a search of City Hall records of town meetings, Tax Assessor's cards, title searches, land records, town survey maps, vital records and probate records. In addition, City Directories and Yearbooks, Danbury newspapers, and U. S. Census records were searched for historical information. Each survey is preceded by an introduction, methodology, findings, and recommendations. The Danbury Museum and Historical Society's collection of historical photographs of Danbury proved particularly useful in identifying structures of historical importance. Their archives also provided builder's estimate books and catalogs of information about particular businesses.

Phase I: 1979-1980. In May 1979 DPT received a grant from the Connecticut Historical Commission to identify and describe buildings of historic and architectural importance on Main Street. The survey also encompassed adjacent side streets. Under the direction of Dr. Herbert Janick and Dr. Truman Warner, project directors, William Devlin and Imogene Heireth, assisted by student volunteers, carried out research on approximately 300 buildings. At that time, Devlin, a Danbury native and graduate of Western Connecticut State College, was a graduate student in Museology and Preservation at the University of Vermont. Imogene Heireth, a certified genealogist and experienced title searcher, conducted research of town records, and Roger Baldwin, a photographer from New Haven, photographed the structures for Phase I.

As an outgrowth of the Main Street survey, DPT published a sixteen-page supplement for the May 11, 1980, issue of the Danbury News Times, entitled The Future of the Past. The supplement was the work of Bill Devlin, Stephen Harby and David Prebenna, and contained the history of the downtown built environment combined with suggestions for the protection and enhancement of these physical assets. In addition, during the summer of 1980, the Danbury Public Library displayed photographs by Roger Baldwin of various buildings on Danbury's Main Street. The exhibit, entitled An Interpretation of Danbury's Architecture, consisted of black and white photographs that focused on architectural details of many of the city's old buildings on Main Street. This exhibit also traveled to local area public schools. (OS Drawer 3) These photographs are on display in the Faculty Dining Room at WCSU's midtown campus.

Phase II: 1980-1981. The following year, Bill Devlin surveyed 187 buildings in the Balmforth-Maple Avenue transportation corridor using funds provided by the Community Development Block Grant Program. This survey was necessary in order for the city to comply with environmental review requirements for a possible connector highway between Interstate 84 and expected new downtown commercial development on several acres of land behind Main Street. The survey concentrated on the residential and industrial area paralleling Northern Main Street between White Street and Interstate 84, namely, Balmforth Avenue, Barnum Court, Crosby Street, East Franklin Street, Maple Avenue, North Street, Patch Street, Thorpe Street and Union Avenue. Roger Baldwin photographed the structures for Phase II (box 5 folders 53-61, box 6 folders 1-9).

Phase III: 1981-1982. The third survey was also funded by a Community Development Block Grant, and continued the on-going process of inventorying the historic and architectural assets of the community by targeting the Elm-New Streets neighborhood in the southeast section of the city. Approximately 145 buildings were surveyed by co-directors William E. Devlin and Paulette Pepin, researchers Imogene Heireth and Trudy Menzer, and photographer Michael Partenio. The survey included Elm Street, New Street, Spring Street, Montgomery Street, and Stevens Street (box 6 folders 10-37).

Phase IV: 1982-1983. Funded by a Danbury Community Development Block Grant, the fourth survey was conducted to locate historically significant buildings or districts that might be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The survey area, principally around the Town Hill-East Liberty Street neighborhood included the following streets: Center Street, Clark Street, Clason Place, Comstock Street, Cottage Street, Home Place, Keeler Street, Liberty Street, McDermott Street, Nichols Street, Pahquioque Avenue, Prospect Street, Sheridan Street, South Street, State Street, Stillman Avenue, Stone Street, Town Hill Avenue, and Triangle Street (box 6 folders 38-48). Members of DPT's survey team were William Devlin and Paulette Pepin, Co-Directors, Imogene Heireith and Trudy Menzer, researchers, and Susan Bury, photographer.

Phase V: 1985-1986. Between 1983-1985, DPT began to systematically inventory areas of the city by quadrant. Funded entirely by Danbury's Community Development Block Grant Program, DPT surveyed more than 200 buildings on the major residential streets that include: Deer Hill Avenue, West Wooster Street, Pleasant Street, Park Avenue, Division Street, Terrace Place, and the C. D. Parks Property.

During 1985-1986 the DPT surveyed: Bank, Bennett, Boughton, Brushy Hill, Cherry, Connecticut Avenue, Dibble, E. Pearl, East Starrs Plain, Foster, Garfield,, George, Grand, Great Plain, Harding, Harmony, Hayestown, Housman, Jefferson, Lincoln Avenues, Linden Place, Long Ridge, Mountainville, Ohehyahtah, Old Long Ridge, Orchard, Pearl, Pickett Ridge, Quien, Seeley Streets, Southern, Spruce, Stadley Rough, Starrs Plain, Sugar Hollow, Washington, West, Whitlock, William, Wilson, and Wooster. Maps for the Phase V are filed separately (OS Drawer 3).

The final phase of the survey was funded partially by Danbury's Community Development Block Grant funds, but the majority of the funding was provided by a grant from the Connecticut Historical Commission. Surveys encompassed city neighborhoods and rural areas in the southwestern section of Danbury, and the semi-rural Great Plain District in the northwestern corner of the City that included structures on Great Plain, Stadley Rough, and Hayestown Roads. Terrace Place and Harmony Street were also included in this survey. Negatives for Phase V structures are located in Box 7, folders 39-43.

Phase VI: 1986-1987. Funded by the Connecticut Historical Commission and Community Block Grant funds, this survey concentrated on the northwest residential neighborhood of the city. Architectural historian Mary McCahon conducted the survey. The survey includes the following streets: Abbott Avenue, Beaver Street (at Rose Hill), Beckett Street, Clifton Place, Davis Street, Duck Street, Fairlawn Avenue, Farview Avenue, Franklin Street, Grandview Avenue, Henry Street, Highland Avenue, Hoyt Street, Knapps Lane, Lake Avenue, Mallory Street, Morris Street, Robinson Avenue, Roger Avenue, Rose Street, Rose Hill Avenue, Smith Street, Starr Street, Well Avenue, and Westville Avenue.

Contact sheets, negatives, and indexes precede the House Surveys for Phase II, Phase V, and Phase VI. There are no contact sheets or negatives for Phase I, Phase III, and Phase IV.

Images located in Photographs, Box 2 folders 20-26, include: Hearthstone Castle; Stevens Brothers Saw and Planing Mill circa 1860; 1870 Streetscapes by early Danbury photographer Edward P. Ritton; Wooster Cemetery; a streetscape postcard of northern Balmforth Avenue; Beers Atlas map of 1867 Balmforth Avenue, North Avenue and Patch Street; ca 1869 panoramic view of the Borough of Danbury taken from Clapboard Ridge; #62 Maple Avenue and East Franklin Street, ca. 1900; #45 Balmforth Avenue; and a 1858 E. C. Smith map.

Slides are filed separately in box 10 and include the following streets: Tray 1: Balmforth Avenue, Barnum Court, Boughton, Beaver, Center, Chapel, Cherry, Deer Hill, East Pearl, Elm, Elmwood Place, Farview, Franklin, Garfield, George, Great Plain, Stadley Rough, Ives Street, Lake Avenue, Library Place, Liberty, Long Ridge, Starrs Plain, Main Street Details, Main Street Downtown, Main Street Historic District, Main Street Streetscapes, Main Street North of News-Times, Spring Street, Maple, Montgomery, Mountainville, New, Nichols, North, Orchard, Osborne, Oil Mill, Patch, Pearl, Pleasant, Stevens, Smith, South, Tarrywile and Hearthstone, Town Hill Avenue, West, Washington, West Wooster, and Wooster. Tray 2: Houses, Streetscapes, Factories & Warehouses, Commercial, Institutions, People, Maps & Bird's Eye Views, Still River Exhibit, and Feinson's Men Store (wall of building adjacent to its parking lot on White Street).

In addition to historical surveys, this collection also contains correspondence files, newspaper clippings (filed in separate folders by date), information on local and national preservation issues and programs, position papers, walking tours, oral history tapes, and pamphlets.

The controversy surrounding the Redevelopment Agency's choice of John Errichetti Associates to develop eight acres in downtown Danbury known as "Parcel A" can be found in Errichetti and the Redevelopment Agency. Copies of the 1982 and 1983 Summary of the Annual Report for the City of Danbury, which appeared as a supplement in The News-Times, are also included. Bid proposals from Errichetti Associates and Nolan Enterprises are filed separately (OS 1).

The Trust was also very active in educational activities that complemented the research surveys. DPT bestowed landmark status to structures they deemed of historic and architectural significance to make residents more sensitive to the importance of preserving buildings. Information regarding landmark status and criteria governing selection are located within the issues of Renews, DPT's newsletter published twice yearly.

Additional educational activities included yearly walking tours of Danbury streets and houses, a lecture series by preservation experts from other states, and the Mayor's Conference on Historic Preservation that was held at the Palace Theater in downtown Danbury. The conference focused on Main Street revitalization and discussed the possible reuse of older buildings to fulfill contemporary, economic, social and cultural needs. Information regarding the feasibility of renovating the Palace Theater is also included. The daylong conference included speakers from other communities that were involved with historic preservation. Researchers should also see Partners for Livable Places.

In 1983, DPT, in conjunction with the Danbury Downtown Council, established a façade rehabilitation loan subsidy program with funds coming from the Supplemental Block Grant appropriation. The primary purpose was to encourage building owners in the central business district to invest in improving their building's appearance, design, and unique architectural features. Mayor James Dyer was instrumental in financing the salary of a Main Street manager to direct the activities from the 1981 Community Development Block Grant entitlement. Information concerning this program can be found in among the issues of Renews.

Minutes and agendas of DPT Board Meetings are located in box 1, folders 1-7 and box 9 (5 micro cassette tapes dated March 23-May 1995).

The National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination Forms for Main Street Historic District -includes descriptions and addresses of structures seeking placement. Additional information on local surveys, benefits of being listed in the National Register, and submission guidelines are also included. Researchers should also see issues of Renews.

In 1980, due to the efforts of the Trust, the old City Jail was included in the National Register of Historic Places. Information regarding the nomination and a Site and Building Analysis by Whitcomb Associates of Danbury are also included in this file (box 8, folders 43-45). Researchers should also see issues of Renews.

Due to the efforts of DPT, the following structures are now listed in the National Register: the greater Main Street area, Hearthstone Castle, Meeker's Hardware Store, Octagon House, Tarrywile, Patch Street Stone Arch Bridge, and Union Station. In 1985, the Locust Avenue School, Danbury's last remaining 19th- century school building, was added to the National Register.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation files (box 3, folders 8-12) contain information regarding procedures necessary to qualify historic properties under federal law, forms, pamphlets, brochures, and grant guidelines. Survey forms were not only used to identify properties and districts eligible for the National Register, but to also document historic and architectural assets for local planning purposes, and assist Danbury in fulfilling federal requirements as a Community Development Block Grant participant.

Oral History tapes include Bill Boaccio; Mrs. A. Hoyt; Abe Najamy, March 23, 1982; Bert Sacco, September 1, 1986; and Jerry Lombardi, August 4, 1986 (box 9).

Parks Property Purchase Committee file contains correspondence regarding the purchase of the property and a report by the King's Mark Environmental Review Team Report on the Park's Property, dated February 1984 (box 8, folder 20-27).

The main topics of discussion in the Real Estate Conference files (box 3, folders 43-47) include the Historic Restoration Federal Tax Incentives, information on continuing education for real estate brokers and salesmen, lists of attendees, funding agreement between the State of Connecticut and DPT, pamphlets and notes regarding the meetings.

The Trust co-sponsored an exhibit with Western Connecticut State University's History Society and the Danbury Public Library entitled A River Runs Through It: The Urbanization of Danbury's Still River. The files (box 3, folders 56-62 and box 4, folders 1-59) contain correspondence regarding the exhibit, grant application to the Connecticut Humanities Council and Meserve Memorial Fund, research and resource materials and the Urban Renewal Plan, NDP Conn. A-4, dated April 1970. Flyers, invitations, a guest book, maps, project updates, story line, exhibit narrative, and an exhibit booklet are also included. A News-Times Sunday Supplement dated June 2, 1996, covering the exhibit is located in OS 1.

Exhibit photographs (box 4, folders 23-26) entitled Channelization of the Still River include 51 8x10 black and white images that follow the sequential process of the downtown channelization of the Still River and Barden Corporation Before and After photographs of the 1955 flood (folders 27-31). Carol Troy's personal photographs of the flood are located in box 4, folder 32. Additional photographs of the exhibit are located in box 4 folders 45-59. Eight 4x6 postcards (box 4, folder 35) of Lake Kenosia, Oil Mill Pond, and the Still River near White Street are also included. A News-Times Sunday Magazine supplement describing the exhibit is filed separately (OS 1).

Information regarding the Sunderland Award, named for three generations of builders and architects who designed dozens of buildings in the Danbury community, was given yearly to the person who had given distinguished service to historic preservation in the Danbury region. Names of recipients and their contribution are located in box 3, folder 39, as well as in Renews.

Memorabilia items include DPT seals, 3x5 address cards and Rolodex, and embosser seal. (OS 1)

The Old Library files contain four 4x6 color images of several fairy tale scenes from the Old Library’s children’s room mural painted by former Bethel resident Charles Federer in 1935. Four 8x10 images (mounted) of children reading and the mural are located in oversized box 1. Description of the mural and artist are covered in depth in a 1935 News-Times article that is included.


  • 1959-2001


Access Restrictions

Open for research without restrictions.

Use Restrictions

Permission to publish materials must be obtained in writing from the:
Ruth A. Haas Library
Archives and Special Collections
181 White Street
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: 203-837-8992

Historical/Biographical Note

The Danbury Preservation Trust had its beginnings in 1978 during a faculty developed summer course entitled Living History, Reading the Connecticut Landscape, taught by Dr. Herbert F. Janick, Professor of History at Western Connecticut State College. Due to the tremendous interest and support from the college community and concerned citizens of Danbury, Dr. Janick founded the Danbury Preservation Trust in 1978. After formal incorporation in January 1979, he became the Trust's first president.

The mission of DPT is to "encourage the conservation of Danbury's architectural heritage, not only those individual buildings of outstanding architectural merit, but those that taken collectively make up the diversity of urban life and maintain continuity with the past." To this end, the Trust has been engaged in a variety of historical research, educational, and advocacy programs to preserve buildings of architectural and historic significance in the city of Danbury.

DPT past presidents include Dr. Herbert F. Janick, 1978-1982; Steve Flanagan, 1982-1983; Dr. Paulette Pepin, 1983-1989; and, Peter A. Herger, 1990-1994. In 1995 Dr. Paulette Pepin has served again as president. The organization has not been active in recent years.


8.1 Linear Feet (10 boxes, 3 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



The Danbury Preservation Trust had its beginnings in 1978 during a faculty developed summer course entitled Living History, Reading the Connecticut Landscape, taught by Dr. Herbert F. Janick, Professor of History at Western Connecticut State College. After formal incorporation in January 1979, he became the Trust’s first president. The records of the Danbury Preservation Trust span the years 1978-1997. The collection includes surveys to identify structures that might be included on the National Register. The bulk of this collection consists of Architectural and Historic Resources Inventories that were conducted by the Trust between 1979 and 1986. The majority of the surveys contain a small black and white photograph of the structure.


Folders are arranged alphabetically by subject.

The files are grouped into 3 series:

Missing Title

  1. Inventory


Recent accretions were donated by Herb Janick and Bill Devlin, 2014 - 2015.

Related Material

General Physical Description note

8 linear feet

Guide to the Danbury Preservation Trust Records
Unverified Full Draft
Mary Rieke; rev. 2016 - Roseanne Shea
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from Danbury Preservation Trust Records 4.doc

Repository Details

Part of the Western Connecticut State University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Haas Library
181 White St
Danbury 06810 USA US
203.837.8322 (Fax)