From The Day, April 4, 2002
Groton–Charles Norris Pratt, 78, of Noank, passed on Wednesday, March 27.
He was the devoted husband of Priscilla Wright Pratt and the beloved father of Catherine Taylor Pratt and Charles Timothy J. Pratt.
Born in Essex, on Sept. 22, 1923, to Charles Manwaring Pratt and Violet Elizabeth Taylor Pratt, he was a direct descendant of William Pratt, the first settler of Essex. He was also the great-great-great-grandson of the merchant John Taylor of Glasgow and New York, one of early New York’s prominent citizens.
Mr. Pratt graduated from Pratt High School in Essex in 1941. He received an associate’s degree from New London Junior College in 1943 and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1950.
He served in the Navy from 1943 to 1946, and attended the officer training program at Yale University. Later, he was stationed in the Pacific with the Third Fleet.
After graduating from Rensselaer, Mr. Pratt moved to New York, where he worked as an architect for Walker and Poor, J. Gordon Carr, and Edward Durell Stone. During this time, he helped design the New York ASPCA headquarters and animal shelter, and the Parke-Bernet building, and he supervised the interior remodeling of the first National City Bank headquarters on Wall Street.
He marred Priscilla Redfield Wright, of Centerbrook, in 1951, and the couple resided in New York until 1957, when they movd to Noank and Mr. Pratt established his own business in architectural photography. He served as secretary of the Architectural Photographers Association and, in 1973, he was a finalist in the PPG Industries Architectural Photographers Invitational, a national photography competition. His advice was frequently sought on issues pertaining to architectural history and preservation.
A pioneering conservationist, Mr. Pratt was a founder of the Groton Open Space Association, which led the way in the establishment of Haley Farm State Park in 1970. His striking photographs of the farm’s natural beauty were instrumental in a statewide campaign to raise the private funds, that in conjunction with state and federal monies, were used to purchase the property.
As press secretary of the Bluff Point Advisory Council, he was a leader in the citizens’ effort to make Bluff Point a coastal reserve, a designation affording a high level of protection to undeveloped land. Acting on recommendations of the Advisory Council, the Connecticut legislature created the Bluff Point Coastal Reserve in 1975, and today Bluff Point remains the only coastal reserve on the East Coast.
Interested in civic planning, Mr. Pratt was a member of the first Noank Park Commission and later served as its chairman. He designed the original Noank park in 1958, and later the Noank town dock and beach.
After his retirement from architectural photography, Mr. Pratt and his wife opened the Pratt-Wright Gallery in Noank, which specializes in art of the Mystic-Noank region.
Growing up on the Connecticut River, Mr. Pratt acquired an extensive knowledge of wooden boats and maritime history. He was an accomplished sailor, owning and maintaining a series of unique wooden boats that he sailed with his family and friends. He was also a lifelong fly fisherman and an expert at fly tying.
He was on the board of directors of the Groton Open Space Association and was a member of the Noank Volunteer Fire Company, the Noank Historical Society, the Mystic Seaport, the Connnecticut River Museum, the Nauyaug Cruising Club, and the Essex Congregational Church.
A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Monday, April 8, at Noank Baptist Church. Interment will be at 1 p.m., Tuesday, April 9, in Riverview Cemetery in Essex.
The Dinoto Funeral Home, 17 Pearl Street, Mystic, is assisting the family.
Gifts in memory of Mr. Pratt may be made to the Town of Groton, Charles N. Pratt Memorial Fund for the Groton Animal Pound, Attn. Town Treasurer, 45 Fort Hill Road, Groton, CT 06340, or to the Groton Open Space Association, Inc., Haley Farm Maintenance Fund, PO Box 9187, Groton, CT 06340.