University postpones demolition of historic ‘Faculty Row’ cottages

A brown house on the old “Faculty Row” of cottages facing Gilbert Road in Storrs, Connecticut. The group of buildings had been slated for demolition to make room for a new residence hall. (Jason Jiang/The Daily Campus)

The demolition of UConn's historic brown houses, located on the south side of campus, has been postponed.

The houses had been identified for destruction as part of UConn’s Campus Master Plan to create a new residence hall.

“That location is identified as a potential site for a new residence hall if we were to build another, but at this time, we have no immediate plans for a new dorm beyond the Next Gen Hall opening this fall,” said university spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

The residence hall was originally planned to accommodate increased enrollment, a goal of the Next Generation Connecticut expansion plan. However, that will not happen due to the university’s current budget problems, Reitz said.

“The decline in the amount that the state gives us for operating funds for Next Gen means our enrollment will grow at a slower pace,” she said. “We are not building another residence hall right now.”

Despite no immediate plans for destruction, the old “Faculty Row” of cottages is not labeled on the new, updated maps of the Storrs campus. While the structures themselves remain shown, the offices that they house are no longer labeled as they were on the old map.

Currently, three of the houses remain in use, housing the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Academic Services Center, the Design Center Studio and the Institute of Public and Urban Affairs. The other wooden cottages have either been boarded up or left unoccupied.

The buildings are still standing partly because they are registered as landmarks in both the State and Federal Registries of Historic Places. According to their respective websites, the Connecticut State Registry is determined by the federal registry, which in turn is maintained by the U.S. Park Services and the Department of the Interior.

The brown cottages were one of a series of buildings added to the registry in 1989. It was labeled as the Connecticut Agricultural School, otherwise called the University of Connecticut Historic District.

They were considered “rather curious buildings in the shadow of large institutional structures [which] recall the more human scale of the early campus,” according to the federal registration papers. “A reminder of a period in the history of the university when time and money could beexpended on the architectural design of a modest house.”

According to the federal registration papers, the registered historic buildings stretch across campus from the old Faculty Row, to Whitney residence hall, the Castleman Engineering building and Wilbur Cross.

While the buildings are registered as historical landmarks, they can still be torn down. But because they are registered, the university is eligible for both federal preservation grants and tax credits if it decides to restore the structures.

The Historic Preservation and Adaptive Reuse Plan, an appendix of UConn’s Campus Master Plan, currently lists the houses as “contributing to historic district,” and thus will be relocated or removed completely.

The university remains cautious about any future uses of the buildings, Reitz said.

“We’re always looking at potential and appropriate uses for our property, including these structures,” she said. “It remains under review.”


Sarah McNeal is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at sarah.mcneal@uconn.edu.