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

Love, Laughter and Lasagna: At the Table with Nancy Colella

[This is the final installment in a four-part series “Matriarchs of Main & Elm,” published in December 2015 and profiling the women behind New Canaan’s great business families.]

Annunziata Colella—known to locals by her Americanized name, “Nancy”—on Tuesday afternoon sat at her long family dinner table in the kitchen of this brick exterior ranch-style house on Main Street, the family’s home since she moved in with a young daughter and husband in 1974. She rested her hands atop a poinsettia tablecloth set with fresh yellow lilies, the doorway connecting to the living room beyond adorned with garlands draped around columns, potted poinsettias on side and coffee tables, tall candleholders in the form of angels placed on the floor, and large framed family photos on a fireplace mantle, beside Christmas cards and stockings. Complimented on her holiday décor, Nancy shook her head and said in the Neapolitan accent that she’s had since she arrived in the United States—and started learning English—in 1971: “Oh, thank you, but this is nothing. I’ve hardly done anything.”

On the contrary. Resilient, warm, intelligent and resourceful, Nancy Colella—wife of Giuseppe “Joe” Colella, founder of Joe’s Pizza—for nearly a half-century has conducted herself at home and at work with a sense of pride, responsibility and commitment that’s transformed a mom-and-pop pizza shop into a cherished New Canaan fixture. Continue Reading →

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PHOTOS: Downtown New Canaan Through the Years

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For the past three weeks in the Downtown & Holiday Guide, we’ve featured photo galleries of the business district in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. This week, we’ve selected some of our favorite photos on file at the New Canaan Historical Society through many different decades. Enjoy! Continue Reading →

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‘Whatever You Wanted, We Had It’: A Look Back at Breslow’s

In this day and age of specialty superstores and chains, it’s often difficult to imagine the variety store of yesteryear—quaint one-stop shops replete with pretty much everything and anything you’d need to get through the day. Such stores were common throughout suburbia for most of the 20th century, serving a specific need and purpose in a simpler time. And here in New Canaan, no one served that need and purpose better than Breslow’s. Founded in the 1930’s by brothers Ben and Mike, Breslow’s was a New Canaan fixture for nearly half a century, occupying the site of the town’s third firehouse, which—according to the New Canaan Historical Society—had stood at 32 Elm St. (Papyrus currently occupies the space) since 1892. Continue Reading →

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Icon and Inspiration: Lydia Franco O’Neil, At the Store and Behind the Mousse Cake

[This is the third installment in a four-part series “Matriarchs of Main & Elm,” profiling the women behind New Canaan’s great business families.]

Thomas George Franco II—‘Tom,’ as he’s known today on Elm Street, site of the family’s eponymous wine and liquor shop, a fixture of downtown New Canaan for nearly a century—recalls the challenge he faced as a young man in 1975, trying to acclimate back to civilian life upon being discharged from the Army following a three-year tour during the Vietnam War. Fortunately for the newly made U.S. Army veteran, Tom was one of 11 Franco siblings—all students of St. Aloysius School and graduates of New Canaan Public Schools—who knew a remarkable woman named Lydia Franco O’Neil as ‘Aunt Lee.’

At the time, Aunt Lee had a condominium in Florida with her husband, longtime local U.S. Postal Service worker Bill O’Neil, and the plan was for Tom to drive her down to the Sunshine State so that she could have a car there, and he would fly back. “That was the perfect reintroduction back into civilian life,” Tom recalled on a recent evening. “We talked all the way down—about Uncle Bill, the family, what I was going to do now, and just things in general. Continue Reading →

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PHOTOS: Downtown New Canaan in the 1970s

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In the past two weeks, we’ve featured photo galleries of downtown New Canaan in two bygone eras: the ’50s and the ’60s. This week, with help from the New Canaan Historical Society, we are featuring an album of photos from the 1970s. Continue Reading →

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