Historic Clinton Home Slated for Demolition

A fire ravaged this antique house four years ago. According to the town, the owner has not repaired it and has violated the town's blight ordinance.


Known as the Munger House and built in 1759, this historic house at the corner of High Street and steps from downtown Clinton is slated for demolition.

Stemming from a Town of Clinton Blight Complaint, the issue has been turned over to Superior Court in Middletown which in turn has issued an order to "permit the demolition of the dilapidated structure...and the removal of garbage and refuse by the plaintiff (town) in the event of a failure of the defendant (owner) to do so by the date ordered, Jan. 30, 2013."

The home, which is composed of four apartments, is owned by Karla Munger of Clinton. She also owns #26 High Street, the barn behind #22 and #22 1/2.

The Owner's Story:

Patch spoke with Munger who said her situation is not a pretty one, indeed. She is 70 years old with "multiple disabilities" including being blind in one eye. She says she has had some good tenants over the years, but many bad ones, too. She owns a total of seven rental units.

"I had a tenant who smashed the furnace, I've had some with great credit and work histories fail to pay me any rent," she said.

The fire started, Munger alleges, because one of her renter's was smoking. She also believes that same tenant disabled the fire detectors by removing their batteries.

"I'd like to proceed with renovating the house, I don't want to see it demolished," she said. "But I am so tired. I can't do it alone. I have no family to help me.  I have no income because people are not paying me rent."

The Town's Story:

First Selectman Willie Fritz said that even before the fire, the house was in violation of the town's Blight Ordinance.

"We don't want to tear the house down," noted Fritz, saying conditions at the property cannot continue as they have been.

Fritz said something needs to be done about the house and yard and he's hoping that the owner will sell it to someone who can fix it up.

Zoning Enforcement Officer Tom Lane said the reason the property is in the courts and under order for demolition is because "the owner of the property has been unwilling to anything with it."

The courts can allow the town to put a lien on the property. Then any costs for clean up/demolition would return to the town after the property is sold. 

"They didn't seal the building properly after the fire," said Lane. "There is water damage, all sorts of critters have been in and out of there, and the yard is overgrown."

Any person or organization who wants to help clean up this property and make proper repairs to it first needs the permission of the owner, stressed Lane.

The Clinton Historical Society's Story:

Megan Stine, vice resident of the Clinton Historical Society (CHS) said that "the demolition of this house would be an irreparable loss to Clinton's historic legacy."

"It is an essential element defining the character and charm of the neighborhood and delineating High Street as an historical residential neighborhood," said Stine.

Stine has created an online petition that people can sign. Click on the link to the online petition if you wish to ask the town/courts to stop the demolition proceedings.

"Time is of the essence," added Stine.

Additional background about the house provided by CHS:

The Munger House, as it is now called, was identified as a beautiful example of a Georgian style building by the architectural historians recently hired by the Clinton Historic District Commission (HDC). They recommended a High/John Street Historic District to be listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Located at the base of High Street and the entrance to Clinton, the Munger House would be the anchor property for this proposed Historic District. The architectural historians went a step further in recommending the Munger House be nominated individually to the National Register. They called it: "the best example of [a Georgian style house] in the survey area....[with] a rare fanlight over the entrance and a later two story bay on its south elevation."

The house has social-historical importance as well. Although we are calling it The Munger House, named for the current owner, it was originally built by John B. Wright who served for many years as the Connecticut collector for the Internal Revenue Service, a position to which he was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln. Wright also served many years as a State Representative, and 1861 and 1862 as State Senator. 

Valentina DeMayo DaCosta January 25, 2013 at 12:36 PM
How very sad if this house isn't saved somehow - Clinton will be less for it's loss
Phil Sengle January 25, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Hopefully a "White Knight" will step forward and save the house. But it can't stay this way. The town is doing the right thing in forcing the issue. The owner has had plenty of time to do something. Maybe another "White Knight" will save the antique Yellow House that is likely to be torn down for the new high school.
Carolyn Malchow January 25, 2013 at 04:34 PM
Carolyn Malchow 11:06 am on Friday, January 25, 2013 History...in other towns is preserved! At least ask if anyone can preserve it by buying low and repairing this old home. There are citizens who love redoing the beauty of historical homes. Reply
Jay January 25, 2013 at 07:07 PM
How about the town offering a deal - the town will restore the house and rent or lease it. The town would then remit the taxes on the house and the Land and pay Mrs Muger rent for the Land with the stipulation that upon her demise the land is deeded to the town. Ther is some room here for adjustments but the intent is preserve an antique at a fair cost to taxpayers and give Mrs. Munger some income that she would not get.
Yankee in the south January 25, 2013 at 10:29 PM
I no longer live in CT but spent 35 years growing up there and I for one love my little home town and I also love the historical homes throughout the town, BUT when I was in my pre-teens I had friends who rented a apartment there and the place was a dump then and has never gotten better only worse. It would be great if it was saved especially NOW knowing the history of the home, but no one wants to buy this place and the town I think is been broke but keeps spending. Hopefully someone can come up with a good solution.
Harriet Juel January 26, 2013 at 03:28 AM
Karla Munger is totally to blame for the ruination of this fine old home. She has neglected this property and left it to rot. We are left to feel badly, and we do, that this home is scheduled for demolition while Karla leads us to believe she is the victim here. The fire was the result of poachers (not renters) that she knew were living there. Just sit back and watch the remainder of her property (the next two units) go to ruin as well. Sorry to say there is no good solution here.
R Alvin January 26, 2013 at 04:17 AM
I for one feel the owner has more than enough warnings over the years to repair and restore this property. She did nothing, if she couldn't afford to then she should have sold it a long time ago to someone who might have restored it. She has no one to blame but herself. It is time for the house to go.
Alan Felgate January 26, 2013 at 05:17 AM
The real victim here isn't the owner, it's the house and the Town of Clinton's historic legacy. This is a good opportunity for the Town and concerned citizens to come up with a creative solution that's fair for everyone: the house gets preserved, the Town gets the property cleaned up, and Miss Munger gets to stop worrying about tenants and taxes.
alan kravitz January 26, 2013 at 01:01 PM
It seems as though the property has more value to those of us who believe that it makes a significant contribution to the historic character of Clinton than it does Mrs. Munger. I suggest that the latter create an entity, private or non-profit, and attempt to purchase and preserve the property. It has historic signicance and is in a neighborhood that is a major gateway to town. It is on a site that, because of the traffic, makes single-family residential use a hard sell given its location on the site. We need to look at other uses that are compatable with both the residential character of the neighborhood and the proximity to the train station and downtown. Perhaps as a B&B or professional office? I have long believed that we need to have identified one or more sites where historic homes threatened by demolition could be relocated. As I recall, this site is about 3/4 of an acre in an R-10 zone, could the Platt house now on the New Morgan site be relocated here? In my work on the Planning Committee I constantly hear comments about the need for Immediate actions that will change the public perception of our community, could the restoration and reuse of this historic house be a first step? Should it be part of our effort to celebrate 350 years of history and begin to prepare for the future. I would say yes, absolutely yes, and am committing to be a part of that effort,
Jeff Cashman January 26, 2013 at 02:05 PM
ALAN KRAVITZ, Thank you for your comment on this post.... I don't think any one here wants to see the house go. I think that major work on the house is needed. To move the school property house, to the rear of the house at 22 , is one of the best Ideas I have ever heard off.. If a vote was taken for the town to offer a fair purchase price to Munger for the property, move in the other house, spend some money on 22, offer the two homes for sale as homes, its a win for all party's ..This kind of thinking is what I expect from the commission.Lets not let red tape and monthly efforts bog this down . ALAN , thank-you for your good and fair thinking on this matter. YOU have just restored my faith so much. The 350th year can be a year of hope and change in this town. This easy move is legendary. The same street, no bridges to go under, easy on and easy off, and two historic homes preserved for life. I'm willing to help and donate my time in the clean up of the Munger property. good life lesson for my family. WOW , a real good Idea..
R Alvin January 26, 2013 at 02:35 PM
Why are we talking about this at the eleventh hour, this should have been going on the last 10 years. The rest of her property is slowly turnig to muck and it too will be torn down some day..Unless someone has deep pockets and a total commitment to restoration with a time line of completion than it should be destroyed.
Alan Felgate January 26, 2013 at 07:48 PM
Alan K. & Jeff, I agree 100% - this is an exciting solution that would bring huge value to the Town of Clinton in our 350th year. You can count on my support to quickly develop and implement a plan where everyone wins once the immediate danger of demolition is stopped. R, I agree this should have been taken care of long ago. But sometimes people need to be pushed to action. That's exactly what's happening now, and I actually think this story will have a happy ending. Additionally if successful the Town of Clinton will have a working model to address similar historic houses under threat in future.
Alan Felgate January 26, 2013 at 07:52 PM
One other comment - again, this is not about Miss Munger. This is about 22 High Street, a pre-revolutionary home built in 1759. Let's make sure we don't confuse the house with the owner. Let's do the right thing for the Town of Clinton to preserve and protect our historic legacy.
Carolyn Malchow January 26, 2013 at 11:57 PM
Is there some sort of state money that could be obtained for a museum or a state archeological dig where finances could be obtained? Leaving the building at the original address would maintain the history that occurred in the house. This would be a great house for the historical society.
Carolyn Malchow January 27, 2013 at 12:30 AM
Who ever mentioned in the above communication about having an archeological dig is wonderful for a town museum. Who did live in Clinton in pre-revolutionary times? Life in various sections of town and the many styles of homes in our town could be part of this museum! Pierson school children could walk to the Old Brick and them to 22 and the yellow house in the back. What did Representative and eventually Senator Wright do for our town and for Connecticut!
Todd Hajek January 27, 2013 at 02:17 PM
I am speaking as a matter of opinion only, as I do not live in Clinton. But it amazes me how people will always jump on a bandwagon to save history, and not care about the tremendous expense, BUT will do everything in their power to block spending money on the future, which someday will be a part of history!!
Jeff Cashman January 27, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Today's houses could never take such a beating as the Munger property. the materials that we buy are not the same as what was available back then. to have heat in your bed room at night, you heated something like a bed warmer rock. the glass of water or commode pot was frozen in the am. lumber today claims its a 2 by 4 , but we all know that's a lie..In 1759 a 2 by 4 was a true demention. Concrete as to granite, massive beams as to micro lames and glue, there's a reason why the roof line on the Munger property is still straight as an arrow. the same with the house on the school. both buildings are of good historical condition for their age.. dad did teach me a little bit in looking at old homes. I'm a restore kind of guy. refinishing furniture, old trucks and our home is laced with some great things of the past, even dads old hand tools. they made simple work with little effort. I'm proud of this town of Clinton. There are many roads in town that show historical growth. Like taking time and going backwards in a movie. Its all hear. every bit of our heritage. It makes up who we are as a community. the historic Items that belong to all of us residents who live here, should be cherish to no end.. Men spent weeks with hammer and chisel to make one stepping stone or step for a house. Our railroad station in town was owed buy a bank who thought that they wood expand in our town. we have watched it become many things over the years. were is the crossing arm for the train station.
Jeff Cashman January 27, 2013 at 04:36 PM
WERE is the lamp that told the conductor to stop at the train station. they were thrown away by the bank. remember for a year the awning blew in the breeze like a big yellow and white flag. The grass got to be 18 inches tall . I called the Realtor and got permission from the bank to cut the awning in exchange for the signal arm and the lamp. they were in the dumpster out back.. some day I will return them to the town, restored , along with two trolly tracks that last year that were salvaged during a water main repair, that happened at midnight. there are good people every day that are working on the preservation of our town. I like being part of that!
Carolyn Malchow January 27, 2013 at 04:56 PM
Jeff Cashman, That was inspirational! Let us do out best to preserve our past, and present because it builds our future!
Carolyn Malchow January 27, 2013 at 04:57 PM
What does reject mean?
Jane Scully Welch January 29, 2013 at 12:29 AM
How about we preserve the Academy building on East Main Street. It too needs a lot of help, and it has a storied past. Built in 1801, reportedly by townsmen who donated materials and the labor and was used by the Central District School. In 1812 it was used by the Baptist Church until they built across the street next to the Milestone House. The Academy was used for social meetings and then was used as a hall for Town Meetings while the William Stanton Andrews Memorial was being built. It also was leased by the Grange and as the Park and Recreation offices and now Social Services . The building is owned by the Town and is in desperate need of scraping and painting and renovating inside. It was once a grand building...we could make it so again...as it sits in the center of many of our Historical buildings. The thing is...there are many many wonderful old homes in Clinton.....we should have a list....which do we try to save first!!!
Linda N. Stuhlman January 31, 2013 at 04:28 PM
As a resident in Clinton living in a 1812 house that has been altered a few times but which still retains some of its old bones, including boards with bark still on them, I am interested in keeping old houses. So I don't understand why when Jeff Morse asked the owner 6 years ago to buy this historic house at a much higher amount than it is valued at today, he was turned away. Jeff redid the Houpert residence on Commerce St. and the Pitken residence on Pearl St. (both which some wanted to level); they are now assets to the town. Wish Jeff could have a go at this house.
the one that knows the truth February 02, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Well i hate to say it but its about time.....yes it is being said its not about munger but partly yes it is....something should of been done long ago.....as do the other properties that are a hazmat themselves and probably could be closed seeing as electrical wires in one apartment are part of one side of the house and some part of the other.....very sad to me when people use disability as a reason to escape responsibilities and take advanage of people. Especially when it comes to being a property owner and not taking care of the needs of your tenants and property. If you cant maintain it then sell it all. Historic or not if none of the properties are taken care of or maintained it properly it will turn to rubbish anyway.....
the one that knows the truth February 03, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Agreeing with Harriet the other properties will ruin also....munger does not take care of the places....she offers all utilitites included but does not give pw for internet and cable is for her apartment and runs cables to other apartments from hers so it is ran off hers not individual....she takes the deposits and procrastinates on doing the lease and then tenants get notice to vacate premises...but yet does not clean the places or anything...electrical wiring is all messed up...one apartment has some wiring on one breaker and other side of apartment is on another breaker...front hallway is filled with junk and a fire hazard....plumbing is very messed up toilets barely flush....so my point is the other properties are already going down the tubes....and she is to blame....they need to be sold to be restored


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