Historic Preservation

Table of Contents

    The Historic Preservation Committee has its roots in the founding of the Historical Society as the Ridgefield Preservation Trust in 1999 by saving the 18th Century David Scott House from demolition. The Historic Preservation Committee is tasked with monitoring changes to our landscape that may have the potential to undermine the cherished 300-year character of Ridgefield’s streets and neighborhoods. Issues that arise require an understanding of resources, particularly historic buildings. Historic Preservation advocacy requires building awareness and providing educational tools to help the public understand the history of those structures and the resources available to them. We also encourage questions about how to navigate the process and agencies that provide technical assistance and financial benefits to preserving historic resources.

    Please contact Phil Esser at preservation@ridgefieldhistoricalsociety.org if you have any questions or need assistance.

    Plaques Available for Historic Houses

    Do you appreciate the value of preserving the historic fabric of Ridgefield? The Architectural Resources Survey catalogued over 600 unique structures in our town, one of which might be yours.

    Since 2001, the Historical Society has commemorated these important houses and accessory buildings with appropriate marker plaques. The weatherproof and wooden plaque’s design has been fully reviewed and approved by the Town of Ridgefield and is crafted by an artisan sign maker who specializes in hand workmanship.

    If you are interested in purchasing a plaque for your home or other historic structure, please email us with your contact information and we will get in touch with you. Purchase of a plaque in no way limits your right to make alterations to your house in the future.

    The plaques are available in two sizes—10 by 12 inches or 12 by 16 inches—pricing is discounted for members. For an additional $25, join us as a member.

    Certified Local Government

    Ridgefield’s town government has a lively historic preservation component. In addition to two local historic districts, a Village District and an Architectural Advisory Committee, the town is also a Certified Local Government (CLG) which means it meets standards set forth by the Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to qualify for technical assistance with preserving and advocating for the protection of historic resources. This includes historic sites, buildings, and structures, including those that may be threatened. Importantly, CLG’s are given higher priority for grant funding at the state level. Other organizations such as Preservation Connecticut supports the work of CLG’s by training staff and preservation commissioners as well as providing grants and technical assistance.

    Historic Resources Inventory

    In 1979, The Ridgefield Historic and Architectural Resources Survey recorded over 500 buildings and structures in Ridgefield to document their architectural and historical significance. The document serves as an extraordinary record of Ridgefield’s built environment and aids in preservation efforts. The Historical Society will be working to assist in updating the Survey, mandated by the CLG process every 20 years.

    PDF Downloads

    The Survey was recently scanned at high resolution by the archivist at the UConn Library, Laura Smith, who has kindly provided the scans for our town’s reference. Note that these are large files.

    High-Resolution, Searchable PDFs

    1979 Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Box 1
    298 pages, 382 MB, including introductory material, street index, and maps. 36 Abbott Ave. through 10 Farrar Ln.
    1979 Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Box 2
    248 pages, 385 MB, 2 Florida Rd. through 190 Lounsbury Rd.
    1979 Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Box 3
    247 pages, 378 MB, 2 Main St. through 224 N. Salem Rd.
    1979 Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Box 4
    306 pages, 445 MB, 236 N. Salem Rd. through 57 Rockwell Rd. (Note that Branchville Station and Ridgebury Congregational Church are included at the end.)
    1979 Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Box 5
    318 pages, 463 MB, 31 St. John’s Rd. through 27 Wooster St., and 18th C. Ridgebury map and index

    1983 Version (lower-resolution, non-searchable PDFs)

    The three-part Xeroxed scans contain additional information, updates from 1983, and a few property forms that do not appear in the 5-part scan.

    Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Rev. 1983, Part 1
    610 pages, 19 MB, including introductory material, street index, and maps. 36 Abbott Ave. through 267 Ivy Hill Rd.
    Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Rev. 1983, Part 2
    542 pages, 16 MB, 21 King Lane through 482 North St.
    Ridgefield Historic Resources Inventory, Rev. 1983, Part 3
    546 pages, 18 MB, Old Branchville Rd. through 27 Wooster St.

    Guideline for Local Surveys

    Conducting a survey of historic properties requires planning and grant funding. This process is done in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The National Park Service has provided a good reference on conducting a local survey.

    Demolition Delay Ordinance

    In 2020, Ridgefield passed a 90-day Demolition Delay Ordinance. This process increases the likelihood that historic structures will be saved by allowing time for property owners and community members to work through alternatives to demolition. The ordinance consists of a 2-stage process: determination of whether a building or structure is architecturally, historically, and/or culturally significant, and whether a demolition delay should be imposed. The RHS is specifically named in the ordinance as one of three notified parties and adjoining neighbors.

    Financial Benefits to Preserving Historic Resources

    The Federal Government and the State of Connecticut offer Tax Credits for qualified rehabilitation projects. In Connecticut, the Historic Homes Rehabilitation Tax Credit program offers homeowners and other entities a 30% tax credit, up to $30,000 per dwelling unit, for the rehabilitation of one to four family buildings. This is a significant opportunity that is often underutilized simply due to a lack of awareness. The Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit is available for buildings with five or more dwelling units.

    Listing of Properties on Historic Registers

    One of the most prevalent misconceptions about listing your property on the National or State Register of Historic Places is that it imposes restrictions to alterations or demolition. Only properties that are within Ridgefield’s two Local Historic Districts and Village District (both created under State Statute) are subject to design review. Listing your property on the National or State Registers can provide financial benefits but are mostly honorary. Almost the entire commercial core of Ridgefield is listed on the National or State Registers, not to mention six others as well as individual properties.

    Archaeology

    Archaeological sites are the physical remains of previous human activity. These sites contain valuable information about the material culture and lives of the people who occupied the land before us and, often, offer clues and important artifacts invisible from the surface. The Historical Society is currently heading up a nationally significant Revolutionary-era site where skeletal remains were found.

    Historic District Commission (HDC)
    Ridgefield Village District
    Ridgefield Architectural Advisory Committee
    Connecticut State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO)
    CT Certified Local Government Program (CLG)
    Ridgefield’s Demolition Delay Ordinance
    CT DECD Historic Preservation Tax Credits
    National or State Registers
    Preservation Connecticut