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Thursday, December 06, 2007

Colt building one step closer to landmark status

As a native of Hartford, this is good news:
Coltsville's place in Hartford history has long been secure.

Under the blue onion dome occurred a revolution in firearms manufacturing that won the West and helped the Union triumph in the Civil War. It was where Sam Colt and legions of workers flexed the nation's 19th century industrial muscle, and where Colt and his wife, Elizabeth, left a lasting imprint.

With Wednesday's action by National Park Service officials, Coltsville moved closer to gaining a place on the national historic map, a step Connecticut officials hope will spur the long-awaited redevelopment of the one-time manufacturing village into a national park.

More than a year after an unsuccessful first attempt to get federal recognition for Coltsville, backers of the Colt Gateway Project got what they were looking for Wednesday: an important decision en route to designation as a National Historic Landmark.

"We got it," said Rebekah MacFarlane, an official at Colt Gateway LLC. "We're a landmark."

A couple of administrative approvals are needed before Wednesday's decision by the National Historic Landmarks Committee takes effect. But this was the most important step, according to Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez, who was among the local, state and federal officials backing the initiative in Washington, D.C.

"It's a long time coming, and it assures us that we're on the right path," Perez said in a phone call from Washington after the decision. "It's a great thing for the neighborhood." Perez said the committee's approval was unanimous.