Historical Society Receives Grants for Riverton Historic District
by Rebecca Ransom
The Barkhamsted Historical Society was recently given two grants, totaling nearly $4,000, to complete the study and nomination for the Riverton Historic District. In December, the Historical Society was granted a $2,200 matching grant from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation in cooperation with the Connecticut Humanities Council. Under the grant, the society is required to match grant funds. According to Society president Walt Landgraf, the matching funds will be made up of a previously secured grant of $1,750 from the Farmington River Coordinating Committee and donations from the Society and other interested parties. The total cost of the project is approximately $4,400.
The funds will go toward a study of Riverton's historic structures and their contribution to the town's overall ambiance. The study is in preparation for a nomination as a National Historic District under the National Park Service.
The study and subsequent nomination will be performed by professional consultant Jan Cunningham of Cunningham Preservation Associates, LLC of Middletown. Cunningham is well underway in the study process and it is estimated that the nomination will be submitted for approval during the spring.
If approved, the National Historic District will include the entire village center. Final boundaries of the District will be determined by the study. Although several buildings in Riverton village are on the National Register of Historic Places, this designation would involve the entire village community.
Designation as a National Historic District is different from a zoning historic designation. First of all, National Historic recognition does not involve regulatory measures and does not impede property owners' rights. Structures within the district are not subject to restrictions on points such as paint colors, lawn ornaments, maintenance and improvements, etc.
Benefits of the designation include the ability for non-profit groups to access and obtain grant funding and tourism and marketing tools for merchants. Landgraf also hopes the designation will increase awareness about preservation of Riverton's historic structures.
In itself, the study is an important and useful tool for the community. Previously, most of the information and research involving historic structures in the village has been strewn amongst various documents and books, whereas this study assembles all the information into one cohesive record. It both identifies structures of significance as well as documenting the community as a whole.
The study will be a valuable instrument for continued research, preservation, and a "jumping off point" for future projects. Recently, there has been discussion within the Historical Society to produce walking brochures of the village and perhaps other tourist literature.