Chatham Square Association

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A new house in the heart of Chatham Square Neighborhood

Oysterman’s Eyesore Becomes Historic Pearl

BY Allan Appel |  Read original story published by New Haven Independent |DEC 16, 2010 2:09 PM

As Nancy Greenberg and Corey Stone opened the verdigris door on the historic and “green” restoration of 13 Lewis St., the saga of the foreclosed and abandoned 1876 oysterman’s house in Fair Haven neared a happy conclusion. The remaining task: find a buyer.

 

The house that perches above little Lewis Park near the Fair Haven waterfront had been owned since 1997 by Jason Bartlett (who’s currently a state representative from Bethel). Lacking money to fix it up, he let it lapse into becoming a neighborhood eyesore.

Allan Appel Photo

ALLAN APPEL PHOTO


In 2008 the house fell into foreclosure. Local couple Pete and Yang Bellacicco outbid Deutsche Bank by one penny at an auction. But their $76,000.01 offer was disallowed by the court. (Click here andhere for previous stories.)

Jump ahead to January 2010. Greenberg and Stone went into business to launch an energy-smart, green approach to restoring local historic properties. They call their company Verdigris Ventures.

They plucked up the oysterman’s gem for $47,500 from Deutsche Bank. During the height of the foreclosure crisis, the German bank held more than ten percent of the foreclosed properties in New Haven.

“When you looked through the walls, you saw daylight. It was a hovel that needed to be gutted,” said Stone, a community-minded business consultant who sits on the board of the about-to-open START bank.

 

So he and Greenberg, an East-Rock based attorney, put their minds and cash together to the tune of more than $200,000. They researched the building for how it might have looked in the late 19th century. They replaced cheap vinyl windows with historically appropriate two-over-twos, among other features.

 

They also put in wainscoting that an old oysterman might recognize, though he’d be agog at the fine granite countertops and stainless steel appliances.

Wherever possible, Stone and Greenberg preserved original elements such as the white pine floors and this stained-glass window, which was restored by John Cavaliere of Westville’s Lyric Hall Antiques.

Saving bucks as their own general contractors, they used 18 subs, all local. They blew in foam insulation on the roof, purchased the most energy efficient appliances, and installed a high-performing gas furnace.

In the process, they also applied for utility rebates and state tax credits.

 

Greenberg said an owner could live in the tight little house and pay no more than $600 to $800 a year on gas and utilities. The place is so efficient that the house consumes only 44 percent of what comparable new construction requires, Stone added. Sale price for the house: $287,000.

 

So they were pleased to put their National Historic Register plaque back on the house.

Chatham Neighborhood Association (CSNA)’s Lee Cruz said he and his group are committed to helping Stone and Greenberg find a buyer through dissemination of the opportunity through local Fair Haven networks..

“If we’re going to have investors come into the neighborhood to buy and sell them, this is the kind I’d like to see,” Cruz said.

Chris Fergusson lived in the little house at 13 Lewis St. for his first ten years, between 1976 and 1986. It was more than a nice place to live, he said. It was a place to play to hang out with all kinds of kids. “Very diverse neighborhood. We always played in little Lewis Park.”
It was his parents first house and they were drawn to it because of the nearness to the water. Fergusson now lives in Westville but he keeps an eye on the old neighborhood. “I loved the house. After we moved, I dreamed about visiting.”
Having made Corey Stone’s acquaintance, now he can.

 

Contributed Photo

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO


 

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