The impending demolition of the “Mead Park Brick Barn” has been delayed 90 days due to a 3-2 vote by the town’s Historical Review Committee at a Aug. 9 meeting. The decision was reached after member Ed Vollmer switched his vote to support the delay.
Vollmer said he was “torn” over his decision because of its proven historical significance, but also concerned about the future of the building.
Chairman Mike Ferrell and Laslow Pap voted to not approve the delay due to the low probability of funds being raised for the renovations, as well as the building’s uncertain future.
The remaining two members of committee, Rose Scott Long and Martin Skrelunas, voted in support of the delay. The two stressed the state’s decision to place it on the Registrar of Historic Places as clear evidence of its historical significance.
Members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance were present at the meeting, which was held at the New Canaan Historical Society, to support the delay of the demolition and to seek permission to restore and repurpose the structure.
“We are not asking this committee about the future of the building,” Founder Mimi Findlay said. “We are simply asking for the extra time to make a presentation to the Town Council and relevant bodies to make those decisions about the barn.”
“Mead Brick Barn” has not been used for many years and it has fallen into disrepair. The town has attempted to demolish the structure before, but bids for demolition were rejected by the town for being too costly.
Now that a bid has been accepted for construction costs, the town is very eager to complete the project, as the “building has no use for the town.”
At committee’s meeting, Findlay quoted the town ordinance regarding the preservation of buildings:
“For purposes of this Section, structures may, upon application by the owner, be designated as historic structures by the Commission where said structures are seventy five (75) years old or older, and are found by the Commission to be directly associated with the history of the subject property and:
- exemplify or reflect the broad cultural, political economic or social history of the nation, state or Town; or
- are identified with historic personages or with important events in the national, state or local history; or
- embody the distinguishing characteristics of an architectural type inherently valuable for study of a period, style, method of construction or of indigenous materials or craftsmanship; or
- are representative of a notable work of a master builder, designer or architect who influenced his or her age; or
- have yielded, or may be likely to yield, information important to history.”
In a recent letter filed with the town’s chief building official, Findlay discussed the historical, cultural and architectural importance of the building.
The barn was constructed and used by Standard Oil to bring oil, kerosene and gasoline to the rural area of New Canaan, thus making it historically significant, according to Findlay. The cultural importance of the structure comes from its use during both World Wars and the Great Depression to house various meetings for local organizations and community activities. Architecturally, the laying of the bricks is viewed as unique and there are only an estimated two structures similar to “Brick Barn” left in the state.
The barn is on the state’s Registry of Historic Places, which, according to the NCPA, means that at least 12 professors of history had researched the structure and declared it historically significant.