Shell & Bones Is Open in New Haven’s City Point Historic District
I’ve been wanting to write something to trumpet a superior new restaurant in New Haven, the opening of which I contributed to in a minor, bit-part way, serving as Architect-of-Record for the construction permit and certain City of New Haven approvals. The vision and execution of the interior design, on the other hand, belongs to others. I would name the others, but I’m not sure of all who were involved or how the credit would be parsed. So suffice to say, my disclaimer is that none of that (fantastic) part came out of my direct efforts.
My story begins with my having just now paid a parking ticket on-line that I had regrettably forgotten about. I don’t usually fall victim to parking tickets, and so I think that goes a good way to explaining (or at least rationalizing) why I forgot about this one. I’ve learned from this experience to pay any future parking tickets in a timely fashion. I have also seized this moment of paying my fine to also serve as the writing prompt I’ve been seeking, as this ticket relates directly to my involvement in the opening of Shell & Bones Oyster Bar and Grill.
How did I get that parking ticket? How does anyone get a parking ticket? A parking meter, which was sufficiently fed by all reasonable accounts, had run out.
I had parked on Orange Street, outside of City Hall in New Haven. I was there with the Shell & Bones team to present at a hearing before the Historic District Commission. The project I was presenting was a minor alteration of the building that they would soon be occupying with their new restaurant, at 100 South Water Street in the City Point Historic District. Although the building was built in the early 1970’s and is not therefore a “contributing structure” to the District’s historical character, nearly all work that is proposed to its exterior is nonetheless subject to review and approval by the Commission.
Given that the building is non-contributing and the scope of work was small and very uncontroversial, I wasn’t too concerned when I realized that the parking meter at the only open parking spot in the vicinity of City Hall wouldn’t make more time. It had almost an hour remaining from the prior occupant of the spot, and while my intent was to fill the meter up, for some reason it just wouldn’t respond to me. So I let it be. As I walked towards City Hall, I was comforted in the risk I had just taken by the likelihood that mine would be a very short presentation.
Alas, who would have expected the lengthy discussion that was about to open up over our small, benign application!? I came away from the hearing that evening with more than just a parking ticket. I re-learned a basic lesson in human nature: the good people who volunteer their time and energies in the evenings on behalf of Commissions and Boards are (aptly) very stout and prudent in their responsibilities and the stewardship they bring to bear. What may seem like an open and shut, no-worries application to you as the applicant may rather be very carefully examined, turned over and over again by Commissioners, well past the time of an otherwise reasonably fed parking meter. And, lest is seem that I am against the duty they perform, I must say that as an architect with love for buildings that have emerged through long histories, I am grateful for their watch.
Fortunately, after a thorough discussion about the proportions and rhythm of the existing facade and how our alteration might or might not interplay, the Commission ultimately deemed our proposed alteration to be appropriate to the building. Two existing openings on the water side of the building that were previously fitted with fixed glazed panels are now allowed to have operable glazed panels.
Below are two photos that I borrowed from the Shell & Bones Facebook page. The top photo is showing one of the openings with its operable panels being installed. One of the great qualities of this particular spot in New Haven is in fact represented in the background of this photo. To my mind, that scenery all on its own provoked the installation of operable glass panels, so that it might be gazed upon through wide expanses, unmolested by glass and mullions, while it lobs its salty breezes at sojourners who hoist their cocktail glasses and slurp at their oyster shells. Oh my…you really must see how that works!
Now look at this next photo. The crew was finished for the day, having completed one opening with the other to wrap up on the following day (that’s a crew in the photo, just not the construction crew). The early evening atmosphere captured in this photo may not again be so docile, now that the restaurant has opened to the public!
I encourage everyone to visit Shell & Bones Oyster Bar & Grill. The atmosphere and ambiance, the cocktails and food, the seaside charm and the kind hearted people: they are all fantastic and gracious and welcoming. And…they are accessed by a neighborhood drive through New Haven’s time honored and well-stewarded City Point Historic District. Go and enjoy!