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,
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
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
First Selectman Tom Vincent, followed by former first selectman and current
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
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
"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."