As the conversation around historic structures in town continues to gain force, the Wilton Historical Society is undertaking a historic resource inventory of Wilton buildings dating from 1920-1940. The project is being funded by a $30,000 grant from Connecticut’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) which was awarded to the Society last fall.

Leslie Nolan, executive director of the Wilton Historical Society, announced that Connecticut consultants Stacey Vairo of Scheller Preservation Associates, and Lucas Karmazinas of FuturePast Preservation have been chosen to administer and conduct the inventory. The two architectural historians have already begun to comb through historical records.

The project is scheduled to be completed by early December, 2017 and a public presentation of the survey’s findings will follow.

The architecture historians will use old fashioned legwork–or “steering wheel-work”–starting with a “windshield survey,” periodically driving around Wilton from late-June through early August, looking at structures from the road or right of way (inventory surveys do not require access to the interior or rear of the structure), taking photos as they document.

Some of the styles of the period they’re looking for include Colonial Revival, Craftsman, and Tudor Revival, plus the distinctive stone houses designed by architect Frazier Peters.

In addition, they will consult old maps, research within the town’s archives, the Historical Society’s archives, and other resources as needed, including other materials archived in the Wilton Library’s History Room. Interviews with Carol Russell, town historian, and Bob Russell, author of the definitive history of Wilton, will be an important part of their research.

Another crucial aspect of their assignment is to digitize the existing 1989 inventory survey of approximately 315 structures, and combine the old and new survey into one seamless document. It will make research much easier, and it will provide an opportunity to make edits and corrections to the existing survey, and to be able to make more updates going forward.

The grant allows the Historical Society to complete a survey conducted in 1989, that was a comprehensive “Cultural Resources Inventory, performed under the CT Historical Commission (now SHPO) and sponsored by the Society. The architecture historians now will be able to review approximately 25 pre-1930 buildings that were not previously included in 1989.

Together with the new survey that focusing on the nearly 400 structures in Wilton built from 1920-1940, these inventories should identify all significant 20th-century Wilton homes more than approximately 75 years old.

To be included in the survey, buildings should meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • have maintained a high degree of design integrity
  • are of important historical significance
  • are examples of a rare, unusual, or an infrequently found structural type or style
  • are of architectural significance.

Officials say the historic resources survey will benefit Wilton in several ways.

  • It provides the documentation necessary for evaluation of structures, sites, and districts that may meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and/or be considered for inclusion in a local Historic Property or Historic District study
  • the database provided by the survey will enable local officials and boards to better plan for the preservation of the resources under their jurisdiction by placing each structure in its historic and architectural context resulting in greater understanding and appreciation
  • findings of the survey will help individual property owners by placing buildings in their historical and architectural context and identifying their significant features, which could slow the loss of valuable buildings

Anyone interested in learning more about the historic inventory can contact the Wilton Historical Society at 203.762.7257    or via email.

image above:  Frazier Peters-designed home, built c. 1925. courtesy Coldwell-Banker