Hartford files appeal with Congregation Beth Israel over demolition of historic chapel
After a trial last March, a judge granted Congregation Beth Israel a demolition permit to tear down their historic chapel in Hartford, Connecticut. The city has filed an appeal to block the demolition.
The chapel in question is located in a cemetery in Hartford’s Frog Hollow neighborhood and owned by the congregation, based in West Hartford.
The debate over whether to save or demolish the building has been going on for more than two years.
In a statement, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said, “The City of Hartford is opposed to the demolition of the Deborah Chapel and we have appealed the Superior Court’s decision. That appeal is still pending, and we remain hopeful that we can prevent this demolition.”
The city and the state of Connecticut list the chapel as a historic structure, but Congregation Beth Israel says they don't have jurisdiction over the building, since the chapel is “not listed in the National Register of Historic Places.”
The congregation claims the chapel, built in the 1880s, is “unsafe.”
This week, a spokesman for the congregation said that, “the house and the land it sits on cannot be sold and used for anything but cemetery purposes,” according to a specific restriction in the chapel’s deed. "Any other use of the property violates the deed restriction and defiles its religious significance in the cemetery."
Hartford’s Historic Preservation Commission offered to lift deed restrictions for the congregation at a commission meeting back in 2019. They had suggested that by lifting these restrictions the congregation could renovate or sell the chapel for public or private purposes.
The congregation denied both offers in 2019.
The city must now submit its response for stopping the demolition by April 19.