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New Connecticut Additions to National Register of Historic Places Range From Manufacturing Plants to Churches, and More

Connecticut by the Numbers

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places deemed worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.

Thus far in 2021, there have been a total of 7 additions to the list in Connecticut, including two manufacturing facilities, two churches and a synagogue, and an armory.  Plus a well-known local museum, which provided updated historical information.

The New Haven Armory (also known as the Goffe St. Armory) features a U-shaped head house, a drill hall, and an additional wing used by the Second Company Governor's Foot Guard. The building is described as an excellent example of later armory architecture, when engineering advances provided for the construction of the massive 32,000 SF drill shed. The building was in use by the military until 2009, according to the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

Congregation Mishkan Israel (CMI) in Hamden is deemed significant both as an excellent example of Modern architecture and for the congregation's commitment to social justice and the Civil Rights Movement.  According to SHPO, in 1960, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was invited to speak at CMI, which drew an audience from outside the congregation, as well. Congregation Mishkan Israel is said to be the oldest Jewish congregation in Connecticut, the 14th oldest continuous operating synagogue in America as well as the oldest continuing synagogue in New England.  It was founded by slightly more than a dozen families in 1840, three years before Connecticut permitted the establishment of synagogues. 

Also joining the National Register this year in Connecticut are the Armstrong Rubber Company Building on Sargent Drive in New Haven, the Edward Bloom Silk Company factory in New London, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in New Canaan, which celebrated its 250th anniversary last year, and First Presbyterian Church in Stamford.  The National Register database also indicates that “updated documentation” was accepted this year from the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington. 

The more than 96,000 properties were listed, as of the end of 2020, in the National Register -  representing 1.8 million contributing resources - buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects, the National Register of Historic Places website points out.  Almost every county in the United States has at least one place listed in the National Register.  To be considered eligible, a property must meet the National Register Criteria for Evaluation. This involves examining the property’s age, significance, and integrity. 

A partial list of Connecticut sites that have been entered into the national electronic database can be seen here.  Most State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) have digitized their files and put them on their websites; Connecticut’s process is underway but not yet completed. 

The Armstrong Rubber Company was established by George F. Armstrong in Garfield, New Jersey, in 1912. The company was organized for the manufacture of rubber automobile and tractor tires and expanded rapidly during the 1910s and 1920s through the aggressive acquisition of competing manufacturers. Included were two West Haven firms.  According to the Preservation Connecticut website, the firm employed upwards of 5,000 hands throughout the 1960s.  In 1968 the company hired Marcel Breuer and Robert F. Gatje to design a new $7 million headquarters building on Sargent Drive in New Haven, which would become an icon of Modernist architecture. In 1969, the Armstrong Rubber Company’s net sales topped $201 million, making it the 5th-largest tire manufacturer in the country. 

The Edward Bloom Silk Company began operations in New London in 1921. At its start, the Edward Bloom Silk Company’s New London plant employed around 100 hands operating as many as 138 looms. The company remained in business through the 1920s, however, competition from newly developed synthetic textiles significantly impacted profits during the early 1930s. After attempts to negotiate more favorable property assessments with the City of New London failed in 1933, Bloom decided to extricate his business from the city. The plant carried on for three more years before the silk mill ceased all operations in 1936, according to information compiled by Preservation Connecticut.

Designed by Wallace K. Harrison, the new First Presbyterian Church was dedicated in March 1958 in Stamford.  Its shape has been likened to that of a fish - a symbol used in early Christianity.  The fish shape is apparent both in the profile and in the floor plan of the structure.  Enhancing the unique shape of the church, according to the church website, are the outstanding stained glass windows in the sanctuary, containing more than 20,000 pieces of faceted glass and depicting the story of the Crucifixion and of the resurrection; and the 32 foot high cross faced with wood from the Canterbury Cathedral in England, which dominates the Chancel.

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