The Mary Borden Munsill House — the grand dame of Hartford’s South Green — has fallen on hard times lately, succumbing to foreclosure.
But the mansion, which most recently had been occupied by law offices and earlier, a radio station, could return to its roots as a single-family home.
Tomas Nenortas, associate director of the Hartford Preservation Alliance, said he has received calls from a “couple of serious people” inquiring about tax credits, wanting to return the house to its original use.
“That would be urban pioneering at its best,” Nenortas said.
An architectural gem from the 1890s, the design of the three-story building deftly combines the asymmetrical plan, corner tower and irregular roof line of the Queen Anne style with the quarry-faced stone arches characteristic of the Richardson Romanesque style.
The house, at the corner of Wethersfield Avenue and Wyllys Street, has been vacant for a couple years, a casualty of the weak economy and city taxes.
Connecticut Bank and Trust Co., the foreclosing bank, said it is keenly aware of the structure’s historical significance to the city, a high-profile reminder of a by-gone era when the area was the place to live during the heyday of the Colt family who lived nearby.
“I am very aware of where it sits and how beautiful it is,” CBT Chief Executive David A. Lentini said. “We would sell it to someone who would protect and preserve it. We’re going to be very careful with this.”
The house was last purchased in 1996 for $208,650 by Edward G. Kriedel III of Niantic and Matthew Kriedel of Newington. They couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The city assessor now pegs the fair market value at $462,300.
The mansion was built in 1893 for Mary Borden Munsill, the daughter of Gail Borden of the Borden Milk Co. Mary Munsill built a house next door for her son, which also still stands.
An architectural survey of Hartford by Gregory E. Andrews and David F. Ransom observes that the Borden Munsill House is one of the most elaborate in the city:
“The house tends to the extremes: the gables project vigorously over the bays, the oriel (bay window) is domed and the slate hipped roof makes an enormous space above the third floor.”
Nenortas said the structure is remarkably well preserved, given it was once used by a radio station.
For instance, the third-floor ballroom and musicians cupola still remain as does a rope driven, single-person elevator that traveled up and down the three floors.
“So ladies in hoop skirts could go up one at a time,” Nenortas said.