Rock Gate in Washington was among the recipients recently as the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation presented its annual Connecticut preservation awards.

The awards recognize outstanding preservation projects and people who have made significant contributions to the preservation of the state's historic buildings and places.

The awards were presented April 4 in the Hall of Flags at the state Capitol in Hartford.

The Merit Award for Physical Preservation was given to Rock Gate: Hans and Louise van Tartwijk, Halper Owens Architects, Laschever Builders, Newconn Developers, BC West Builders, Morgan's Fine Furnishings, Wright Electric, All American Air and Nichols Fine Furnishings.

Rock Gate, named for the split boulder that frames its driveway, is one of Connecticut's finest shingle-style houses, according to the historic trust.

It was built in 1885 for Lucius Barbour, president and treasurer of the Willimantic Linen Co., and designed by Ehrick Kensett Rossiter, a local resident whose designs helped define Washington as a desirable country retreat in the late 19th century.

When the van Tartwijks bought the house in 2009, it was little altered, apart from a coat of stucco applied at the turn of the 20th century. However, it turned out that the stucco had caused rot and structural damage.

Working with a team of local designers and builders, the van Tartwijks removed the stucco, repaired the damage, and re-covered the house in shingles to match its original appearance.

At the same time, they installed structural reinforcements and modern mechanical systems without damaging the interior finishes, most of which remained in their original unpainted condition -- a rare survival.

In contrast to many renovators of large historic houses, the van Tartwijks resisted the temptation to over-improve.

"They are to be commended for their sensitivity," the trust's release said.