Friday, January 13, 2017

SoNo Eighties

Taking a look back at South Norwalk in the 80’s and the revitalization that launched
Beinfield Architecture’s ongoing involvement in SoNo  - and some bits of history


The Corset Factory 1910 and 2004














Washington Prime - corner of Washington and Water
Ann Street  - Corset Factory - 1980's

The view down Ann Street from our archives shows how derelict the area had become. The scaffolded building to the right of the razed lot is the historic R & G corset factory built around 1900. In 1994 Beinfield Architecture refurbished the red-bricked shell into 80 residential units. Historically, the R & G Corset Factory was one of the largest producers of ladies corsets and in 1901 employed about a thousand workers, almost all of them women. This was one of the earliest projects to promote the redevelopment of downtown South Norwalk.


Washington and Water Street - 1980's. The mural on Donovan's facade painted in 1978 by legendary Brechin Morgan,
depicts one of the last working schooners on Long Island Sound

Across from what is now Washington Prime, Donovan’s Pub, formerly Jeremiah Donovan's saloon, has stood at the corner of Washington and Water streets since the late 19th century. Jeremiah Donovan a former Norwalk mayor and U.S. Congressman, owned the bar, which at some point had been a small grocery store as well. The tavern stopped selling liquor during the prohibition but allegedly maintained a speakeasy in the back.

The "Welcome to Historic South Norwalk" mural on the wall of the eastern side of Donovan’s facing the bridge was painted by Brechin Morgan in 1978. Brec had a sign painting business in Norwalk for 23 years and is an accomplished nautical artist. He became legend and hero in 2003 following a 4 1/2 year solo circumnavigation of the world, sailing 32,000 miles to 32 countries in his 27-foot sloop,Otter.
"...Then a fair sail to Suakin in Sudan. Not to be missed. The ruins of the old slave port in the moonlight. Un touched by tourism. All the men in white robes and turbans with long sharp bright swords across their backs and daggers at the belts...fierce..rdng camels through the dusty streets....bblcal.. .. and camels everywhere" Journal entry
“(Brec's) accounts range from the mundane (diet and weather), to the mysterious (giant phosphorescent blobs that flash then fade around the boat; a huge, unidentified sea creature that follows Otter) and mystical....". Hartford Courant 2003

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