Connecticut Trust For Historic Preservation

Rockwell School, New Britain

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The City of New Britain is offering this nineteenth century brick building located on Franklin Square for sale. Built around 1867 as a school, it was named for Reverend Samuel Rockwell, who served as the first minister of the South Congregational Church and represented the city in the Connecticut General Assembly. In the 1940s, Central Connecticut State College (then the Teachers College of Connecticut) leased the building for its Departments of English and Social Sciences after several years of disuse. It subsequently served as a court house, and as such was a prominent civic building anchoring the corner of Franklin Square. Now Rockwell School has been vacant since 1998.The building is constructed of brick with brownstone trim, which was quarried in nearby Portland. An 1892 photograph shows a square Italianate entry porch and a square central bell tower on the roof. The entrance was changed when the building served as a courthouse, and the tower has been removed. The porch now has a flat roof supported by three Tuscan columns at each corner. Drawings of the bell tower exist, making its future restoration a possibility. Arched windows appear on the second story in pairs, and decorative brackets support the roof. Coffered ceilings enhance the interior.Franklin Square is a triangular park that has recently undergone restoration and contains trees, statuary, and benches. A well-known statue of the Goddess of Peace stands at the park’s southern end, across from Rockwell School. The square is surrounded by churches and former civic buildings now converted for a variety of uses. The area is on the edge of New Britain’s downtown and blends into a residential district of large nineteenth-century houses. The Rockwell School building contains almost 24,000 square feet of floor space and a full-size elevator. It is zoned for office/professional use and would be best suited to become a corporate headquarters or a multi-tenant office building. The asking price is negotiable and will be based on future use. Prospective buyers will need to demonstrate the financial ability to complete the restoration of the building. Contact: Downtown District Director Don Courtemanche at 860-229-1665, extension 15.Information is also available at http://www.newbritaindd.com.