At the dawn of the 20th Century, three grand mansions were built in Middletown, the Wadsworth, the McCormick, and the Hubbard. Unlike the Wadsworth Mansion, which is publicly owned, and the McCormick Mansion, which has burned down, the Hubbard Mansion remains privately owned. It will be the subject of a Public Hearing at Wednesday's Planning and Zoning meeting.
The Hubbard Mansion itself is a beautiful three-story house with Tudor influences. It faces south, with a sun room and other large windows looking out over the top of our City towards Wadsworth Mansion. The Mansion was purchased in 2009, and is in generally quite good repair; the chimneys have been re-pointed, a new roof and copper flashing installed, and the windows are in good condition.
The Mansion has 8,000 square feet of living space, and is currently subdivided into three units. The applicant, Francine McKiernan, is applying to convert it from a 3 family residence to a 5 family residence, and to add 10 parking spaces (the minimum required number).
According to the plans, the new parking spaces will be built on the front side of the mansion, and made of asphalt. A "level energy spreader" will be constructed downhill, to dissipate the run-off from the new asphalt parking lot.
Planning and Zoning meets Wednesday at 7PM in Council Chambers. There will be an open public hearing on this application. The site plan and the staff comments are available on the Planning Department Website.
Comment: I think this is a good, practical proposal, leasing 5 units should provide the owner the means to maintain an enormous house with historical significance to the City, something which she has already done quite well.
However, I am concerned about the use of asphalt for residential parking, because this increases runoff. This is particularly a concern for this property, which is adjacent to the Charton Apartment property, site of last year's landslide into the Cogingchaug River. An asphalt lot abutting the front steps of the building also detracts from the appeal that a historic mansion holds for potential tenants. A parking lot somewhat removed from the house, perhaps using stone, would provide functionality to the residents, while allowing the mansion to maintain its grandeur. If the parking lot must be immediately adjacent to the house, I hope the owners will consider cobble-stone, as a sensible material which remains true to this beautiful home.