Yale and Preservation Trust Announce Plans For Historic Yale Buildings

Yale University and the New Haven Preservation Trust today approved a landmark agreement concerning the development of six historic Yale buildings, University President Richard C. Levin and Trust President Edward S.K. Bottomley announced.

The agreement, which concludes several months of discussion, establishes principles to guide Yale and the Preservation Trust in the future. It calls for continuing consultation between the two parties on the specifics of designs for the six sites. The agreement is the first of its kind the University has ever made regarding historic campus buildings.

“We are pleased to draw on the perspective and expertise of the Trust in planning the future of the important properties named in the agreement,” Levin said. “The Yale campus is studded with buildings of great historic value and architectural beauty, and our partnership with the Trust will help ensure that those major attributes are properly considered when change is contemplated.”

Among the properties addressed in the agreement is the 1868 Davies Mansion at 393 Prospect Street, which has been vacant for 25 years. Restoration of its exterior based on historical evidence will begin this year. Significant interior spaces, including the grand staircase, will be restored after Yale determines a permanent use for the mansion. Work on the Davies Mansion demonstrates Yale’s understanding of and commitment to preservation values outlined in the agreement.

Also included in the agreement are the John Pierpoint House, now Yale’s Visitor Information Center at 149 Elm Street, the Skinner-Trowbridge House at 46 Hillhouse Avenue, and the Abigail Whelpley House at 31 Hillhouse Avenue. The Visitor Information Center is the oldest building facing the New Haven Green, and the portion of the structure dating from the eighteenth century will be fully restored.

“I am delighted that our good relationship with Yale officials has resulted in commitments to restore so many of the University’s historic jewels,” Bottomley said.

The exteriors of 31 and 46 Hillhouse Avenue will be restored and significant interior decorative elements will be retained. Widely recognized as one of the nation’s finest streetscapes, Hillhouse Avenue is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and remains a showcase of nineteenth century architecture. Prior to this agreement, Yale had not determined whether to restore the structure at 31 Hillhouse. All of the buildings on the block will be used to support academic programs at Yale.

“The Trust has encouraged us to look at the need for balance between preservation and change,” said University Planner Pam Delphenich. “Its efforts have been persuasive for several of these properties.”

“We are proud that the city as a whole will benefit from this arrangement,” said Robert Grzywacz, head of the Trust’s Preservation Advisory Committee.

Another building named in the agreement, Maple Cottage, at 85 Trumbull Street, is to be razed and replaced in time by a building to conform to its surroundings. The Kingsley/Blake House at 88 Trumbull Street is to be marketed for a year. Yale will donate the building to a new owner for relocation. If no owner can be found, the structure will be razed.

Among the principles adopted by Yale and the Trust in the agreement are that the desirability of New Haven as a place to live and study “depends heavily on the physical appeal of the University’s campus and of the surrounding neighborhoods,” and that changes in the built environment are “part of a continuously living community.”

Yale is currently engaged in a long-term campaign to renovate and upgrade its campus. Sterling Memorial Library, the Yale Law School, Payne Whitney Gymnasium and the undergraduate residential colleges are among the structures included in the campaign.

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Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325