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Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism awards Connecticut College $101,500 for historic steel house

NEW LONDON, Conn. - Connecticut College has received a matching grant of $101,500 from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism (CCT), a state agency. The grant was awarded through the Historic Restoration Fund Grant Program and completes the funding for the next phase of renovations to the college´s notable steel house. The $101,500 state grant matches funds awarded to the college earlier this year, including a $50,000 grant from the Dr. Scholl Foundation and a second $50,000 grant from a family foundation. The Dr. Scholl Foundation had previously awarded the college $28,500 for lead paint abatement in an earlier phase of the renovation, and the Dr. Scholl Foundation, the family foundation and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation had previously awarded the college grants totaling $15,500 for preservation planning.

Connecticut College´s prefabricated steel house was manufactured by Chicago-based General Houses Inc. and erected in 1933 for Winslow Ames, the founding director of New London´s Lyman Allyn Art Museum. Ames purchased the house after attending the 1933 Chicago World´s Fair, where several prefabricated houses were being touted as the answer to the housing crisis of the Great Depression. Fascinated by the steel "machine for living," and excited about the possibilities of prefabricated housing, Ames and his wife built both the steel home and a two-bedroom house assembled from panels of specially formulated asbestos cement on two small lots on Mohegan Avenue. Both were sold to Connecticut College in 1949.

The steel house, which was used as faculty housing until 2004, retains many of its original features and materials. It was listed on the State Register of Historic Places in 2007 and on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009. The second house, now known as the Winslow Ames House, is also listed on the National Register and was rehabilitated in 1994. Today it is used as office space by the college.

"This grant is an essential first step in our long-term plan to transform the house into the headquarters for student-led sustainability efforts on our campus. Eventually, we see it as the hub of a community-garden scheme, a place that will provide opportunities for Connecticut College students and community members to become acquainted in the most natural way possible-working together with the common goal of tending a self-sustaining organic garden," Abigail Van Slyck, Connecticut College´s Dayton Professor of Art History and director of the college´s Architectural Studies Program, said. "Fresh vegetables will be nurtured here, but so too will friendships and mutual respect."

U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, was a strong supporter of the college´s grant application. "I am grateful to the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism for recognizing this project of historic significance on the campus of Connecticut College," he said. "Renovating the steel house to its original state will provide the college with space for students to manage environmental programs that include important outreach into the community." Senator Andrea Stillman, D-Waterford, who also supported the college in the application process, said she is delighted the college has been awarded the grant. "The CCT is sending the very powerful message that historic properties are an integral part of Connecticut´s legacy," she said. "A restored steel house will support the students at Connecticut College, as well as local communities." Van Slyck, who is overseeing the project with historic preservation specialist Doug Royalty, said this phase of the project will include the restoration of the steel panels that serve as the walls and siding for the structure. The physical work for this phase will likely begin this summer and continue for about one year. Subsequent renovation phases, for which the college will continue to fundraise, will address mechanical systems, sustainable technologies, and landscaping.

About the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism brings together tourism, historic preservation, and the arts. Its mission is to preserve and promote Connecticut´s cultural and tourism assets in order to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the state. The not-for-profit cultural and tourism industry accounts for over $14 billion in economic activity and 170,000 jobs annually.

About Connecticut College Situated on the coast of southern New England, Connecticut College is a highly selective private liberal arts college with 1900 students from all across the country and throughout the world. On the college´s 750-acre arboretum campus overlooking Long Island Sound, students and faculty create a vibrant social, cultural and intellectual community enriched by diverse perspectives. The college, founded in 1911, is known for its unique combination of interdisciplinary studies, international programs, funded internships, student-faculty research and service learning. For more information, visit -CC-

May 19, 2010