Lottie Scott’s big green house in downtown Norwich is now resplendent in bright blue

Lottie Scott at her home in Norwich, Friday July 22, 2022, which had been painted green for decades but was recently painted blue. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Lottie Scott lays flowers in the backyard of her Norwich home on Friday July 22, 2022. Scott’s house was painted green for decades, but she recently had it painted blue. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Lottie Scott’s sister, Alberta Williams of Lorton, Virginia, looks out over the garden during a visit on Friday, July 22, 2022. The house was painted green for decades, but recently Scott had it painted blue. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Lottie Scott opens up about life in her home on Friday July 22, 2022 while in her backyard. Scott’s house was painted green for decades, but she recently had it painted blue. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

Norwich — Lottie B. Scott, a longtime citizen and arts attorney and inner-city advocate, hasn’t moved, but directions to her home at 85 Church St. have changed.

For decades, Scott lived in “the great greenhouse on Church Street above City Hall”, her prominent Victorian home overlooking City Hall and just yards from the Norwich Arts Center, which she co-founded and still supports.

The house is now a deep blue color, with sage green window trim and a slate blue wreath around the crown and toothed woodwork under the roof.

Scott, 85, said she wanted to use recent home renovations to make a statement. She remains committed to downtown, which she fell in love with in the 1970s and still adores.

“I really love getting it painted,” Scott said Friday as a worker sat on a tall ladder to paint the headliner. “I love downtown. I really love it and there is still work to be done down here.”

When asked to describe the Sherwin Williams brand’s color, officially referred to as “seaworthy” blue, Scott replied, “I think it’s a very vibrant color.” It’s the message they convey about downtown would like.

Scott bought the house in 1977. She said she told the real estate agent she wanted the cheapest house possible. As she prepared to move in, friends were horrified, shouting, “You’re moving downtown? Church Street?” The Norwich Arts Center didn’t exist yet. Run-down Wauregan was a slum without its decorative window treatments. The Terraces flats on Church Street above Scott’s house were also vandalized and derelict.

But Scott welcomed the historic district’s potential. She had moved to Norwich in 1957 after growing up on a farm in Longtown, South Carolina. She began working as a typist and later became a neighborhood investigator for the State Commission on Human Rights and Opportunity, where she worked in the City Hall office. She was promoted to regional manager.

After she moved in, Scott painted the house his signature green color. Still short of money, she decided to rent rooms to people who needed affordable short-term accommodation. Town historian Dale Plummer lived there for about two years. Others came and went.

She now lives there with her longtime best friend Clifford Carter.

Over the decades, Scott has witnessed several downtown transformations. She helped found the Norwich Arts Center in a three-story brick hall adjacent to her home, the third-floor disabled entrance of the Donald Oat Theater, just steps from her own door.

Scott sponsors the Miss Lottie’s Café theater series honoring historic black singers.

The Terraces on Church Street were completely renovated in the 1980s and the Wauregan in the early 2000s. Downtown now has two performing arts theaters and several art galleries. “I love the vibrancy of downtown,” Scott said. “Some things have gotten better. Having theater is alive. There are always more things to do. I’m not afraid to bring my friends here.”

Scott’s side garden is a manicured, terraced garden, fringed with flowers and lined with tall lilac trees. Butterflies explored the colorful daylilies on Friday. She has hired local artist Brian DeVantier to tend the gardens.

Scott marveled at the new mural on the former Norwich Savings Society building at the corner of Broadway and Main Street, which celebrates the lives of two black 19th-century residents – James L. Smith and Sarah Harris Fayerweather.

Smith escaped slavery in 1838 and settled in Norwich to pursue a business and raise a family. He later wrote an autobiography of his experiences. Fayerweather was a student at Prudence Crandall’s school for African American girls by age 20 and an adult abolitionist.

Scott’s home is a stop on the Norwich Historical Society’s Freedom Trail tour of significant African American sites in the city. Her 2018 memoir, Deep South, Deep North, A Family’s Journey, chronicles her upbringing, fighting poverty, and moving north.

“Miss Lottie’s keen perception has been a steadfast leader in Norwich for many decades,” reads the Freedom Trail brochure, which is stopping at her home.

Determined to stay in her home and not move into senior housing, Scott needed some renovation and modernization work. William Champagne, historic preservation real estate agent and former chairman of the Norwich Historical Society, recommended contractor Dava Seidman.

Seidman, who owns Dava’s Home Solutions of Hampton, is the project manager for Scott’s renovations. In addition to painting, Seidman coordinates carpentry and plumbing. Seidman said she researched colors for Victorian homes and presented a selection to Scott. Knowing Scott’s “real affinity” for green, Seidman recommended a soft sage green called Cascade Green for the window trim and doors.

“This is a very special project,” Seidman said.

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