Town celebrates birthday, designation as Preserve America Community

By:Maria G. O'Donnell , Correspondent


June 1 was a big night for Simsbury. Not only did the town celebrate its 337th birthday, but it also received the special designation as a Preserve America Community from First Lady Laura Bush.
Simsbury Main Street Partnership sponsored a "Preserve America Gala" at the Simsbury Inn that night with a collection of original commissioned artwork by Carol Wallace celebrating the town's heritage. The Simsbury High School Jazz Ensemble provided talented musical entertainment.

According to Main Street Executive Director Sarah Floroski, "Main Street sent an application on behalf of the town. As honorary chair of Preserve America, Mrs. Bush sent a letter and an official street sign. We'll be on their Web site for tourism along with other Preserve America communities. Businesses and residents in the community (were invited tonight) to celebrate this designation."
The Web site, www.PreserveAmerica.gov, states, "Preserve America is a White House initiative that encourages and supports community efforts to preserve and enjoy our priceless cultural and natural heritage." Simsbury is now only one of five Connecticut communities to receive this honor.

Kicking off the night was NBC Channel 30's Bob Maxon. "As proud residents of Simsbury, we have a ton of things to celebrate - being designated as a Preserve America Community, celebrating 11 years of the Simsbury Main Street Partnership; we're one of the oldest Main Streets in Connecticut. Simsbury is such a beautiful place to live," he said, then relayed that a college friend of his told him, "You live here? It's like heaven on earth!"

Freshman Congressman Chris Murphy, 5th District, spoke next. As chair of the Congressional Open Space Caucus, he said, "Protecting open space is a natural place for me. With the Preserve America Program, Simsbury is eligible for federal funding and designation, and gives the town incredible economic potential. This is a distinctive historic and preservation effort for its natural resources."
First Selectman Tom Vincent, followed by former first selectman and current Main Street board member Anita Mielert, both lauded all of the people who worked so hard to help Simsbury achieve this designation. Mielert also called attention to Carol Wallace's artwork, noting that both originals and giclées (fine quality prints) were available for sale, and also, images of the art will be used for marketing purposes: Web site, brochures and ads.

Wallace's eight original works (watercolor/acrylic paintings) include: Drake Hill Flower Bridge, First Church of Christ, Hop Brook Tavern, Memorial Day Parade in front of Eno Memorial Hall, Pinchot Sycamore Tree, River Scene: Talcott Mountain with Heublein Tower, Tobacco Barns on Rt. 10 and Tulmeadow Farm.
Each serene piece is rendered with Impressionist style combined with more detailed images as focal points. Every season is represented - spring's vibrant pastels, summer's lush greens, autumn's bold foliage, and winter's cool blue wash of snowy sky.

Both the artwork and giclées featured the night of the gala will be available for viewing and purchase at Imagine It Framed (Simsburytown Shops, 926 Hopmeadow St.), and also on www.SimsburyMainStreet.org.

DEP Commissioner Gina McCarthy wanted to "offer congratulations on behalf of Gov. Rell, who couldn't make it tonight. Simsbury has maintained itself as the quintessential New England community. A strong sense of community has been preserved through the centuries. Simsbury has embraced the past and has a vision for the future in what we want to preserve. It's wonderful that you got this award; you should be proud for a tremendous job well done."

After guests were treated to "Happy Birthday Simsbury" cake, Main Street Community Awards were distributed by Bob Maxon.

Finally, in describing the Preserve America honor, Connecticut Main Street Center CEO John Simone noted that Simsbury's designation promotes "a new and viable future. More leaders understand the need for a strong, vibrant downtown."

According to the Preserve America Web site, communities are designated under the Preserve America program because they meet the following qualifications: "protect and celebrate their heritage; use their historic assets for economic development and community revitalization; and encourage people to experience and appreciate local historic resources through education and heritage tourism programs.
"Benefits of designation include: White House recognition; a certificate of recognition; a Preserve America Community road sign; eligibility for Preserve America grants; authorization to use the Preserve America logo on signs, flags, banners and promotional materials; listing in a Web-based Preserve America Community directory; inclusion in national and regional press releases; official notification of designation to state tourism offices and visitor bureaus; and enhanced community visibility and pride."

The Simsbury Main Street Partnership, according to its Web site, "is a non-profit organization devoted to the continued success of downtown Simsbury. Our focus is on forward thinking economic development within the context of historic preservation, so that Simsbury's assets and legacy can be passed on to future generations.

"Part of a national network that has been in place for over 25 years, the Partnership brings stakeholders from both the public and private sectors together to create a vibrant commercial district. Simsbury Main Street Partnership, Inc. is proud to be a designated Connecticut Main Street Community."

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