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10/3/2016 - Fairfield’s Jonathan Sturges Cottage Wins Award for 2016 ‘Connecticut Treasure’

First Selectman Mike Tetreau held a press conference today announcing that The Jonathan Sturges Cottage was voted as the 2016 ‘Connecticut Treasure’ in the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA)s’ annual People’s Choice online awards program. The state-wide competition ran from September 12, 2016 to September 23, 2016. The public served as jury, and had the opportunity to appreciate and learn more about the role of architecture in their area.

The press conference was held at the historic Sturges Cottage on Mill Plain Road. Joining First Selectman Tetreau at the press conference were members of the Sturges family, including Lenie Epifano, great, great granddaughter of Jonathan Sturges, Lenie’s daughter, Mia Johnson, Jonathan Sturges’ great, great, great granddaughter, and her two sons, the 7th generation of Sturges' to enjoy the cottage. Also in attendance were Ellen Gould, Fairfield Historic District Commission Chair, Jack Franzen, architect, former Fairfield Historic District Commission member, and member of AIA’s Design Commission which nominated the Cottage, and Edward Gerber, Vice-Chair of the Westport Historic District Commission.

Those not able to attend the press conference included Polly Roessler, Lenie Epifano’s sister and great, great granddaughter of Jonathan Sturges, David Sturges, cousin, sixth generation removed, and Charles Case, Mill Plain Improvement Society President. The Mill Plain Improvement Society, which helped get the vote out for this competition, was formed in 1929. The late Mary Rousseau, mother of Lenie Epifano and Polly Roessler, was the fourth generation resident of The Cottage who played a major role with the Society by generously helping this neighborhood organization over the years, including allowing it to use The Cottage for its meetings.

Lenie Epifano and Mia Johnson said, “We accept this award on behalf of our entire family. We are so happy to share this with our family, friends and neighbors. We dedicate this award to our mother, Mary Rousseau, who worked tirelessly for decades to preserve the Cottage and keep it in our family.”

Polly Roessler, great, great granddaughter of Jonathan Sturges, stated, “Our family is thrilled to be the recipient of the AIA People's Choice Award for 2016 for ‘Connecticut Treasure’! We believe this recognition helps to promote awareness of historical preservation, history and design throughout the State and in our town. We are proud to carry on the legacy of this landmark that our ancestors created. Our mother, Mary Rousseau, would be so proud of this honor. It is through all her efforts over the years that the Cottage will live on and be shared and enjoyed by so many in the area.”

Joanne Rees, Program Director for AIA Connecticut, said, “In 2014, the chapter added a new category, ‘Connecticut Treasures’, which seeks to create an awareness of the state’s rich, varied, cultural and architectural history, by identifying and nominating for designation one significant building in each of the state’s counties. This year we are very pleased to announce that the recipient of the award is The Jonathan Sturges Cottage in Fairfield.”

The AIA Connecticut Design Commission, made up of architect members, nominated one ‘Connecticut Treasure’ in each of the State’s eight counties. The Cottage, a national historic landmark, beat out the seven other choices and is now displayed on AIA Connecticut’s website, http://aiact.org/, along with the previous winners. An awards reception will be held in December at the Peabody Museum in New Haven where recipients will be honored.

First Selectman Tetreau said, “It is a great honor that the iconic Sturges Cottage has been chosen as this year’s ‘Connecticut Treasure’. This online awards program truly brought out our Town’s and our neighboring Towns’ spirit and enthusiasm, as demonstrated by the get out the vote efforts from the Fairfield Historic District Commission, Fairfield Chamber of Commerce, Mill Plain Improvement Society, the Westport Historic District Commission and so many others. The competition also gives Fairfield an opportunity to highlight the history of this historic structure and the legacy of the Sturges family.”

"This is a proud moment—not only for our whole family—but also for our town heritage that Jonathan Sturges helped foster in so many ways. As well, it pays tribute to the late Mary Bullard Rousseau's dedicated restoration of this landmark. Within it and around it, there is much for residents to learn about Fairfield's 19th century," stated David Sturges, cousin, sixth generation removed, descending directly from Lewis Burr Sturges, a nephew of Jonathan Sturges.

The photo shows Mia Johnson, great, great, great granddaughter of Jonathan Sturges and her two sons, who are the 7th generation of Sturges', Lenie Epifano, great, great granddaughter of Jonathan Sturges, First Selectman Mike Tetreau, Fairfield Historic District Commission Chair Ellen Gould, Westport Historic District Commission Vice-Chair Edward Gerber, and Jack Franzen, architect, former Fairfield Historic District Commission member, and member of AIA’s Design Commission which nominated the Cottage.