Kathryn Venus Rosa, historic preservationist
Kathryn Venus Rosa, 92, a Ridgefield native active for many years in historic preservation efforts and an active supporter of arts organizations, died Wednesday, May 14, in California, where she had lived near her daughter in recent years. A founder of the Keeler Tavern Museum and the longtime chairman of the Historic District Commission, she was the widow of Paul Rosa, who had served on many Ridgefield boards and commissions, including as a selectman.
Services will be announced by Kane Funeral Home in Ridgefield.
"I have a fierce sense of protection for our historic past," said Kathryn Venus Rosa in a 1996 Press interview. "I'd like to be remembered as someone who committed herself to the preservation of our past for future generations, someone who felt it was a privilege to live in a town as beautiful as Ridgefield." A lifelong Ridgefielder, she acquired a sense of history from her mother and grandmother, who would take the young girl to antiques auctions at many of the large homes in town. Kitty Rosa became the leading voice for the cause of historic preservation in the last half of the 20th Century. In 1965, when the private home once known as the Keeler Tavern came on the market, Mrs. Rosa was one of a small, non-profit group to acquire the property for $85,000, then a hefty sum. The result is the Keeler Tavern Museum, for which Mrs. Rosa has worked tirelessly over the years and of which she has been president many of them. Her efforts didn't stop there. In 1969, she was appointed to the Historic District Commission, the agency that oversees the preservation of properties on southern Main Street, eastern West Lane, and southern High Ridge, and has served ever since – from 1973 through 1999, she was chairman. She and her husband, Paul , who live in a 1750 house on Olmstead Lane, were honored as the Kiwanis Club's Citizens of the Year in 1997. In May 2000, Mrs. Rosa received the Harlan H. Griswold Award for Historic Preservation, the state's highest award for historic preservation achievement. John W. Shannahan, director of the Connecticut Historical Commission, said Mrs. Rosa is "the woman who, perhaps more than any other individual, has been directly responsible for protecting the historical and architectural integrity of this extraordinary, yet most livable, community."