Demolition of the Leverett Spencer House
By Elizabeth Hart Malloy, Executive Director, Haddam Historical Society.
The owner of 140 Dublin Hill Road has reapplied to Planning and Zoning to demolish the Leverett Spencer House. The hearing will be on APRIL 22, 2021 at Haddam Elementary School at 7 p.m.
Last fall the Haddam Historical Society submitted an objection to the demo application which launched the Delay of Demolition Ordinance. This gave us a few months to look for options. Also, the Planning and Zoning Commission denied the application to demolish on September 3, 2021 as no feasible alternatives had been proposed by the owner.
Working with Preservation Connecticut, we had the property listed on [the] “Historic Properties Exchange” and had a few parties interested in it. Unfortunately, the interior had been completely stripped and interest evaporated.
A group of local citizens then got together to see if they could formulate a plan to save the building and highlight the environmental and historic importance of Higganum Cove as a destination. After numerous meetings with contractors and moving professionals, the group (Friends of Higganum Cove) developed a tentative plan to relocate the Spencer House just down the street to Higganum Cove to be used for a number of purposes including nature/heritage center, hiking/canoeing base, or possible rental. The idea was to fundraise and use as locally donated talent and services.
The Friends of the Cove goals:
Save an important piece of Higganum’s architectural & cultural history; relocate The Leverett Spencer House (The House) to Higganum Cove (The Cove) & repurpose it to establish a Higganum Heritage & Nature Center (The Center) –a destination that will stimulate tourism & new business to our town.
- Achieving 1stphase of our community vision — “Higganum Plan of Conservation & Development” (POCD) & 2019 charrette recommendations for growing cultural & and eco-tourism
- Putting Haddam/Higganum on the map for its mill town history & beautiful landscape; over time, link The Cove to other mills, historical sites & nature sites around town with signs & self-guided tours.
- Deterring vandalism on the Higganum Cove property with increased Cove activity & appropriate street/center lighting
For the complete Vision Statement for Friends of the Cove: Click Here
Town officials indicated they supported the idea in plan but would need to see “a ground swell of public support” before advocating for it financially.
However, a project of this magnitude takes time. Volunteers gave their time freely and spent many hours researching, developing budgets and strategies and meeting via Zoom or at the site. Those involved felt this could be a unique solution, for not only saving a piece of local history, but an opportunity to showcase and interpret Higganum Cove.
Regrettably, the owner 140 Dublin Hill, who was initially supportive of relocating the house to the Cove, has decided to move forward with the demolition swiftly before the Friends of the Cove could promote the idea and gain backing.
If you support the Friends of the Cove idea of relocating the Leverett Spencer House to Higganum Cove and establishing the Cove as a local destination for various activities including outdoor recreation and arts and culture please email the following:
First Selectman, Robert McGarry email@example.com
Town Planner, Bill Warner firstname.lastname@example.org
Planning and Zoning Commission Bunny Batzner email@example.com
Friends of the Cove Tim Teran firstname.lastname@example.org
Haddam Historical Society email@example.com