0684-Old

Here in “0684-Old,” we look back at New Canaan’s rich local history—our lost districts, shops, community buildings and organizations, major figures and the historical events that bind modern townies to our earliest residents.

Recent Articles

‘A Small Purchase of Books’: Roger Sherman Inn as New Canaan’s First Library

“The people in this place have agreed, many of them, to set up a library and are collecting money to make a small purchase of books.” —from a Jan. 16, 1790 letter from the Rev. Justus Mitchell of New Canaan to Roger Sherman, his wife’s uncle

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Perhaps no commercial enterprise in New Canaan has garnered as much attention in recent months as the Roger Sherman Inn. For good reason. Since hitting the market at $6 million three summers ago, the Oenoke Ridge Road restaurant and inn has been the subject of wide speculation. After lingering on the market for years, a well-known developer materialized last fall as the property’s “contract purchaser,” with a plan to create eight (later modified to six) homes on a 1.8-acre property that, as-of-right, would have just one. Continue Reading →

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‘Lost’ New Canaan Landmark: The Lone Tree

“Some say that the original Lone Tree has died and been replaced by a new tree. Others indignantly claim that they have been looking at it for 50-60, even 80 years and that it is the same old tree. It is not a large tree, but apparently size is not necessarily an indication of the age of a sugar maple. At any rate, all agree that it has been a favorite trysting place for lovers ‘time out of mind’ and it bears many hopefully entwined initials.” —from “Lone Tree Hill” by Elizabeth P. McGhie, Feb. 26, 1948 (“Landmarks of New Canaan”)

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With few exceptions, the landmarks that New Canaanites associate with their town’s rich history are manmade. Continue Reading →

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PHOTOS: New Canaanites Who Died While Serving in World War II

Since creating a memorial walk dedicated to New Canaanites who perished during World War II in 2003 in Mead Park, town resident Jim Bach, a Korean War veteran, has spearheaded efforts to improve the visibility and appearance of this town landmark. Those efforts have included re-planting of trees along the “Gold Star Walk,” creating a second footbridge to extend it and installing a new walkway and map—and a venerable nonprofit organization now is offering to help Bach preserve the memorial, which features a plaque listing names of the 38 men who died during the war (see gallery above for information on the servicemen). The memorial has stood for more than 10 years, and Bach—a 1947 New Canaan High School graduate who served as a U.S. Army sergeant from 1952 to 1954—said he wants to add some finishing touches, to ensure its longevity. “I want to see it done, it was part of my life a long time ago and it kept me out of trouble at one time,” Bach said. “The final thing that I wanted to get done with the memorial is to put in a bridge across the main stream that enters the park, on the west side of the garage. Continue Reading →

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‘One of the Last Remaining Artifacts of New Canaan’: Preservationists Explore Ways To Save Historic Ferris Hill Road Home

Mobilized by the very real possibility that a historic Ferris Hill Road home will be razed, local preservationists and other experts are working with its owner and touting the 2.14-acre property’s potential for types of development that would still save the antique structure. A demolition sign went up Wednesday at 8 Ferris Hill Road (listed as 441 Canoe Hill Road in the assessor’s database), one week after its owner applied for a permit to raze the 1735-built home. Now is a critical time for preservation advocates, before a 15-day window to object to the demolition runs out and a decision likely is left with a municipal committee. Though the home’s owner could not be reached for comment, he has said that demolition appears to be the only possible way to develop the property he now regrets purchasing more than two years ago. Yet one local expert, Robert Dean of New Canaan-based Robert Dean Architects, a firm that’s been practicing here for 30 years, said there are three basic ways that emerged when it comes to preserving an antique structure such as this in the face of development: Move it, sustain it in place and build around it, or sustain it in place and add onto it (more on those options below). Continue Reading →

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