Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation

HPX Update: Ernst House, Norwalk

back to listings

In an exciting reversal, Norwalk Hospital has agreed to sell the Ernst House and pursue parking alternatives suggested by the Norwalk Preservation Trust. The 1908 Neoclassical mansion stands next door to a hospital parking lot and was under threat of demolition for expanded parking. The building was listed in the July/August 2003 issue of the Exchange after efforts of local preservationists resulted in a short reprieve. The hospital decided that it would forgo using the site and would expand its parking capacity elsewhere, if it could sell the property quickly and recoup its purchase costs. The price tag exceeded $900,000, a large sum to attain in a lackluster economy within a tight time frame.Amidst the publicity on the plight of the building, a qualified buyer emerged who wanted to preserve and reuse the house as mixed-income housing with 30 percent allocated to affordable housing. Although promising, there was a serious gap between offer and asking price. The Norwalk Preservation Trust mobilized immediately and raised $27,000 in pledges in 48 hours. Paul Newman, a resident of next-door Westport, stepped in with a generous gift of $20,000, helping the cause with both his money and his name. Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp aided the effort immensely by facilitating the use of $150,000 in affordable housing funds through the Norwalk Redevelopment Authority.State Senator Bob Genuario served as the attorney for the buyer, Andrew Kydes, and helped to produce a successful outcome. The stately mansion was built for George Ernst, an important collector of early American furniture. Constructed of brick on a granite base, the building was designed to provide a setting for Ernst’s extraordinary collection of early American furniture and decorative objects. An impressive two-story portico with four Doric columns lends grandeur to the facade. A second-story balcony rests above an elaborate front door. Dentils trim the pediment, which contains a semi-elliptical window. The interior retains many interesting features including a mantel derived from the work of Christopher Wren and accurate Federal style moldings. Ernst was a pioneer in the appreciation of American decorative arts and amassed his collection before it became fashionable.Mr. Kydes is an experienced local contractor and is committed to preserving the building’s historic character. The Norwalk Preservation Trust will have input on the rehabilitation plans. This public/private bipartisan effort saves not only an important building, but a historic neighborhood, as well.Loss of the Ernst House would have endangered two significant Queen Anne houses on adjacent properties.The row of three large houses built in the late nineteenth-century, starting with the Ernst House, is known locally as the “Three Sisters.” Now these reminders of the grand architecture of a once wealthy and prestigious residential neighborhood are safe.

HPX Update: Ernst House, Norwalk

back to listings

In an exciting reversal, Norwalk Hospital has agreed to sell the Ernst House and pursue parking alternatives suggested by the Norwalk Preservation Trust. The 1908 Neoclassical mansion stands next door to a hospital parking lot and was under threat of demolition for expanded parking. The building was listed in the July/August 2003 issue of the Exchange after efforts of local preservationists resulted in a short reprieve. The hospital decided that it would forgo using the site and would expand its parking capacity elsewhere, if it could sell the property quickly and recoup its purchase costs. The price tag exceeded $900,000, a large sum to attain in a lackluster economy within a tight time frame.Amidst the publicity on the plight of the building, a qualified buyer emerged who wanted to preserve and reuse the house as mixed-income housing with 30 percent allocated to affordable housing. Although promising, there was a serious gap between offer and asking price. The Norwalk Preservation Trust mobilized immediately and raised $27,000 in pledges in 48 hours. Paul Newman, a resident of next-door Westport, stepped in with a generous gift of $20,000, helping the cause with both his money and his name. Norwalk Mayor Alex Knopp aided the effort immensely by facilitating the use of $150,000 in affordable housing funds through the Norwalk Redevelopment Authority.State Senator Bob Genuario served as the attorney for the buyer, Andrew Kydes, and helped to produce a successful outcome. The stately mansion was built for George Ernst, an important collector of early American furniture. Constructed of brick on a granite base, the building was designed to provide a setting for Ernst's extraordinary collection of early American furniture and decorative objects. An impressive two-story portico with four Doric columns lends grandeur to the facade. A second-story balcony rests above an elaborate front door. Dentils trim the pediment, which contains a semi-elliptical window. The interior retains many interesting features including a mantel derived from the work of Christopher Wren and accurate Federal style moldings. Ernst was a pioneer in the appreciation of American decorative arts and amassed his collection before it became fashionable.Mr. Kydes is an experienced local contractor and is committed to preserving the building's historic character. The Norwalk Preservation Trust will have input on the rehabilitation plans. This public/private bipartisan effort saves not only an important building, but a historic neighborhood, as well.Loss of the Ernst House would have endangered two significant Queen Anne houses on adjacent properties.The row of three large houses built in the late nineteenth-century, starting with the Ernst House, is known locally as the "Three Sisters." Now these reminders of the grand architecture of a once wealthy and prestigious residential neighborhood are safe.