The CIGNA Companies had, in a remote corner of their Bloomfield
campus, this historically and architecturally important stone house. As
a gesture of civic goodwill, CIGNA had the building moved to a more residential
site and renovated it, in conjunction with the Oak Hill School for the
Blind and the Corporation for Independent Living, as a residence for five
women with physical and mental disabilities.
Smith Edwards Architects was contracted to conceptualize all the technical
aspects of the structure’s move and to plan its restoration and
renovation. The house’s exterior was restored to its original appearance,
and an addition which harmonizes with the original building was added
to the rear. Inside, the house was remodeled to provide a comfortable
congregate living environment for its five residents. Since these women
are visually impaired, interior materials were selected to be tactually
appealing, and in the landscape, plant material was selected which would
delight with scent or sound.
The Gillette House project required significant supervision and “hands-on”
involvement of the architect. It was completed within the budget and
qualified for Historic Tax Credits as a Certified Renovation.