When I started out at 28 years old, I was naive about what and how long it would take to build a successful practice. Working out of my living room, I was helping a friend start his business and decided I had enough extra time to go at it on my own. We shared a space at 51 Wethersfield Ave. above the Hartford Architecture Conservancy. I had no clients and so began sending introductory letters to contractors and developers listed in the yellow pages. With an overall success rate of about 1-2% over the course of time, I was eventually able to rent an office -really a room- on the second floor at 190 Wethersfield Ave. My first work included house additions, multi-family apartment building rehabilitations and eventually small historic preservation projects. Six months later, I moved into two rooms in the front of the building and hired my first employees. In 1985, we purchased our first computer and used it for bookkeeping and billing. We quickly outgrew our space, and in 1987 I bought a building at 125 Maple Avenue. It was a brick Italianate building built in the mid-late 119th century. The first floor contained a restaurant and grocery store. We took the second floor for our office and the third floor had two apartments. While there, I renovated the exterior by repointing the brick, rebuilding the large wood overhangs with ornate wooden brackets, and removing the old rear three-story porch.
I started adding staff as the workload grew, and by late 1988 the office had a staff of 9. It was a great group, all of us in our early 30s or younger. We used to leave work early on Wednesdays in the summer to go waterskiing on Bantam Lake together in the evening – The blissful go-go 80s. Then, suddenly the recession of 1989 hit, banks failed, developers disappeared, and the construction workforce moved out of state. My office shrank to 1 person – me – for a few months until I hired back Dave Goslin who had joined in 1990.