CONGRESSMAN JIM HIMES

Representing the 4th District of Connecticut

Himes Visits Student Workshop Focused on Redeveloping Wire Mill Site in Redding

August 20, 2014
Press Release

REDDING, CT—Congressman Jim Himes (CT-4) today met with students from the public schools of Redding and Easton who participated in this summer’s Re-Wire student artists’ workshop to design plans for the redevelopment of the former Gilbert & Bennett wire mill site. Himes listened to presentations from the students, who attend Joel Barlow High School, John Read Middle School and Redding Elementary School, about their vision for transforming the long-abandoned, 55-acre mill site for productive use for the community.

“It is truly inspiring to see how Redding’s students are harnessing their creativity, imagination and talents to improve their community,” Himes said. “The Re-Wire program is an investment that provides a real-world, hands-on learning experience in technology, architecture, the arts and conservation. The Gilbert & Bennett mill was one of Connecticut's most important manufacturers in the 19th century. I was very impressed by the students' ideas for transforming the site into a vibrant, 21st century community that's an attractive place to live and work, and a hub for clean energy innovation."

Click here for photos of Himes’ visit.

The Re-Wire student atelier, or artists’ workshop, is led by local artist Jane Philbrick and is now in its second year. The program began as a grant proposal for the new initiative “Art Catalyzes Placemaking,” sponsored by the State of Connecticut, Office of the Arts, Department of Economic and Community Development. Re-Wire is funded in part by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation, State Historic Preservation Office, Connecticut Innovations, and the Fairfield County Bank.

"We are honored to have Congressman Himes visit with us again," Philbrick said. "Restoring creative entrepreneurialism is the key driver of social and economic revitalization for historic Georgetown village and our neighboring towns. Re-Wire’s priorities for the site, which includes six industrial buildings listed on the National Historic Register, align with Congressman Himes’ core issues:  jobs and the economy, energy and the environment, education, and transportation.  Re-Wire integrates Redding and neighboring communities through our schools program, the Student Atelier. In partnership with Redding’s excellent teachers and school leadership, Re-Wire works closely with students trained to collaborate across disciplines, think critically, and engage complexity. They are building the future — at home.”

Last summer, the students learned about art and architecture and created a master plan for the Gilbert & Bennett site. High school interns then continued working into the fall and began again in the spring.

This summer, Philbrick and her colleagues guided students through a seven-week summer program that explored a different theme each week and how it could enhance the site's future development. The program's themes were transportation; ecology; architecture; clean energy and environmental remediation; food, farming and hospitality; and fashion design and art. The themes were drawn from verticals from the master plan Re-Wire students created the previous year.

Each week, the workshop invited a professional from each field to discuss their work and answer questions from the students about how it could be applied to the site. For example, Redding Highway Superintendent Jeff Hanson visited the students during the first week of the program to discuss the conditions of local roads and how much it costs to fix and maintain them. At the end of each week, Re-Wire held a one-day open house for the community to see the students' models and ideas.