HARTFORD — A vacant building in Hartford could become a museum honoring a famous Black Civil War regiment.
Army veteran Bridgitte Prince leads a project to raise $35 million to tell the story of the 29th Regiment Connecticut Infantry (Colored), the first Union soldiers to enter the defeated city of Richmond towards the end of the war.
The city-owned building was built in 1920 and once housed city offices, but has been vacant for a decade. Prince and his partners also want to convert it into subsidized housing for low-income veterans. Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal has offered to help the group with the federal funding process.
The group is also seeking a National Historic District designation for the construction site and wants to redesign a park across the street to include a monument to the regiment.
City officials told the Hartford Courant that a thorough environmental assessment must be completed before the project can move forward.
“We are very concerned about seeking a historic designation of the property until the environmental assessment is complete,” Hartford Development Services Manager I. Charles Matthew said, “because if a designation history can be useful for redevelopment, it can also limit options for redevelopment and significantly increase costs.”
Tammy Marzik, spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, told the newspaper that the project could provide needed options for veterans who are homeless or in need.
The 29th Regiment was authorized in late 1863 after the General Assembly authorized the state to recruit black men to fight in the war. The regiment fought until the end of the war under the Connecticut banner and eventually totaled around 1,700 men and suffered over 600 casualties.