A 2021 fire destroyed a cherished landmark. Now there’s hope for the New Hartford House.

By adding an additional floor of apartments, the owner of the fire-ravaged New Hartford House believes he can replace the 124-year-old landmark with something that looks very similar.

Dhaval Patel is pursuing a plan that would put up a new mixed-use building on the same site in New Hartford’s center, replicating many of the original structure’s distinctive features.


Patel gave town officials a preliminary look at his idea last month, and they’re hoping that he will file a formal zoning application before the summer ends.

During the information presentation in June, though, Patel’s consultants said they still must ensure that the plan is financially feasible and that financing will be available.


Residents have been clamoring for redevelopment of the property, with widespread preference for something that would re-create the unique appearance of the original.

The three-story brick and wood New Hartford House defined the town center and was known for its distinctive clocktower as well as the second-story covered balcony that stretched above the Main Street sidewalk.

For nearly 30 years it housed Chatterly’s, a popular restaurant that was the heart of New Hartford night life.

“Everybody in town looks at it as the center of New Hartford,” town Historical Anne Hall said the day after an early morning fire tore through the building on Aug. 10 of last year. “You’ll see that building on postcards going all the way back.”

No residents were hurt, but apartment tenants and first-floor businesses lost virtually everything in the blaze.

Patel and the town brought in contractors to haul away truckloads of debris, and the property has been a grass field ever since.

“The initial disappointment never goes away. It slowly lessons over time as you get used to it, but so many people have lasting memories in that building, in that restaurant,” First Selectman Daniel Jerram said this week.

“I had dinner there with my wife the night we got engaged. Chatterly’s catered my wedding. And there are stories throughout this town of other people have those celebrations — birthday parties, family gatherings,” Jerram said. “It was really a gut punch to see the building go down. That was really the center of our town.”


Patel declined to discuss details of his construction ideas on Wednesday, saying the work is still in preliminary phases.

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“We have everything on a process. Maybe we can talk about it in three or four weeks,” he said.

In June, a team of consultants gave the Planning and Zoning Commission an informal presentation about what they’re considering, and included potential floor plans. Their plan is for a four-story building — one floor higher than the original — with street-level retail below three floors of apartments.

The new building would largely match the footprint of the original, fronting both Main Street and Bridge Street. The preliminary plan is for a mix of one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging from 540 square feet to about 880 square feet.

Consultants acknowledged that the new building wouldn’t include a second-floor balcony, but plans show it would have a clocktower overlooking the corner of Main and River streets.

Last fall, town officials and many residents said they feared an outside developer would acquire the property and build a chain-style pharmacy, fast-food franchise or similar business. The prospect of creating a new building with brickwork designed to look similar to the original has been warmly received, Jerram said this week.


“I thought the design submitted was a home run. They showed their desire to try to re-create some of the magic the old building had in a contemporary design,” Jerram said. “You have to be willing to compromise in some areas. Would the porches and arched windows have been a grand slam? Yes. But this was really a massive step in the right direction.”

Don Stacom can be reached at