Our Carriage Barn renovation won the AIA Connecticut 2021 Elizabeth Mills Brown Excellence Award!
We are thrilled to update this story with joyous news: Hill-Stead’s renovation has won the 2021 Elizabeth Mills Brown Excellence Award from the Connecticut Chapter of the American Institute of Architects!
We believe that our founder, the architect Theodate Pope Riddle (1867–1946), who was an AIA member, would be exceptionally pleased by this recognition of design excellence in the adaptation and reuse of the historic carriage barn structures.
Hill-Stead is grateful to our partners, Centerbrook Architects and Planners, and collaborators who joined this successful team, including BVH/Salas O’Brien, George Sexton Associates, and PAC Group. Further, we appreciate the crucial support of the Connecticut Department of Economic Community Development and the State Historic Preservation Office. Together, we proudly – using the words of the jury – “…made an already exciting place even more exciting.”
Hill-Stead held an incredible ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, June 22! Together with Governor Lamont, Bank of America, the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), and Hill-Stead’s Trustees & Board of Governors, the team announced to a standing-room-only audience that the ambitious, transformative renovation project to expand and elevate the institution has taken a major step forward with the completion of its Carriage Barns renovation.
The announcement coincided with a lead gift of $500,000 from Bank of America—the largest corporate gift in the Museum’s history. We are ever grateful!
Please continue to support Bringing Art to Life as we launch the public phase of our $6.9 million capital & endowment campaign.
Photographs by Bread & Beast Photographer
Bringing Art to Life – Hill-Stead’s 75th Anniversary Capital and Endowment Campaign
Please read our Case Statement validating the importance of this renovation to the future of Hill-Stead for generations to come!
As the beautiful weather arrived this past week, so too did many milestones in our renovation project!
With all the stone pavers laid, we now have a gorgeous new terrace, ready to host visitors and gatherings galore. Just behind it, glazing has been placed in the openings of the former Drive Shed to transform this open-air space into a glorious, light-filled interior. From this vantage point, one can still appreciate the breathtaking natural views to both the south, toward the sunken garden, and the north, looking to the red barn, farm complex, and lush hills beyond.
And together with beauty, we have power! A brand-new generator, which will henceforth service both the historic house and the renovated spaces, was installed thanks to this majestic crane on Friday, March 19. We couldn’t help but interpret this machine built to soar high as a metaphor for the elevated heights Hill-Stead will reach thanks to this long-planned renovation!
Please enjoy a glimpse of both the brand-new doors that will fill our space with light and the laying of the pavers in the courtyard. They are symbolic of a strong foundation as we lay the groundwork for an exciting new chapter.
At the end of their weekly construction meeting, Hill-Stead Board President Lavell Thompson and Dr. Anna Swinbourne conspired to throw a surprise birthday party for two special collaborators.
They celebrated Hill-Stead renovation project architect Chuck Mueller, senior director and principal of Centerbrook, and construction project manager Joe Sosnicki of PAC Group. The project leads share the same birthday on Saturday, March 6th! For Chuck, it’s the big 6-0!
They surprised them with meaningful gifts. For Chuck, they gifted him with Chick Austin’s biography and a private tour of Chick’s celebrated home (now owned by the Wadsworth Atheneum). For Joe, it was a gift certificate to Millwright’s, his favorite restaurant. It was significant as it’s the place where he proposed to his wife – and it included a handwritten card by Chef Tyler Anderson.
The icing on top was an incredible construction-themed chocolate cake made by Lavell!
All the unsightly yet necessary components are now hidden behind what some call “sheetrock,” but we call gallery walls! The progress has been astonishing. We are immensely grateful for the various crews and teams working together in every available space. It’s a noisy, invigorating hub of activity as they contribute to our transformation every weekday.
Included in all this activity was the critical and highly anticipated day when Eversource helped power down the entire museum to perform the necessary testing on the renovation’s electrical components.
In the meantime, our team hauled generators to the courtyard to gear them up to power the historic house. The weather played its typical tricky February self, causing us to reschedule a few times. Still, we responded in our usual determined fashion and kept at it until the skies cleared, and voilà—the job was done!
On this snowy winter day, please enjoy a glimpse of our progress as of February 2021 as we work to create beautiful new spaces at Hill-Stead. As we aim to complete the major renovation project by June, we will share a sneak peek of the progress each month via video and images.
While many of us were enjoying some quiet time and staycations over the holidays, renovation work at the Hill-Stead continued to make impressive progress.
To celebrate this new year, we are delighted to have a new concrete floor in the carriage barn in the space that, just a few weeks ago resembled a rocky moonscape, will soon become our beautiful art gallery!
These photographs show a satisfying progression of beginning, middle, and end.
The holidays aren’t slowing down our construction project at Hill-Stead—the past two weeks have been busy, noisy, dusty, and at times, a little smelly!
Woodworkers and painters are repairing the siding and trim along large swaths of the exterior. At the same time, the infrastructure and piping for sufficient basement drainage are being laid underneath the area known as the kitchen garden.
What is less visible to our visitors is the interior work, including the new, upgraded, and ADA-compliant restrooms. (We are very proud that our plans include more than double the number of bathrooms required by code.) For a central bank – of men, women, and family rooms – in the structure’s northwest corner, the new walls and plumbing have been put in place, and the ductwork is currently being installed.
Watching the progress on our construction this past week was nothing short of amazing! The symbiosis of destruction and creation continues to work its magic.
Down came the kitchen and the interior modifications made years ago, namely to install visitor bathrooms near the Makeshift Theater, which resulted in a massive pile of rubble, seen in this photograph below. (From this pile, we extracted and saved beams of the original wooden structure, which we plan to cut and craft into souvenirs for faithful donors and supporters.)