Brian Platz

Recent Articles

‘Hire Quality Contractors’: Two More Non-Permitted Demolitions in New Canaan

The New Canaan Building Department has received two applications for demolition jobs after-the-fact, one for a garage on Oak Street and another for what officials are calling a significant interior demolition on West Road. The non-permitted demolition at 534 West Road covers the interior of an entire wing of the 1928-built, 5,779-square-foot Colonial there, officials said. That work appears to have been done by an owner of the home, purchased last May for $1,950,000, according to tax records. The garage at 64 Oak St., a property that sold in March for $3,350,000, appears to have been done by a non-local contractor, officials said. New Canaan Chief Building Official Brian Platz urged homeowners to work with reputable contractors and check in with his office to ask any questions about what requires a permit. Continue Reading →

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Town Imposes 90-Day Demolition Delay on Antique Valley Road House

Saying that buying some time prior to a planned demolition could help the owner of an antique and conspicuous Valley Road home find a way to transfer the structure to preservationists or otherwise avoid the wrecking ball, officials voted unanimously last week to impose a 90-day demolition delay. Representatives of the owner of 1124 Valley Road, Norwalk’s first taxing district, are not fighting against that delay, members of the Historical Review Committee said at their March 1 meeting. It would be interesting for the public at large “to know the purpose of the use” of the 18th Century home, committee member Laszlo Papp—formerly a neighbor of the house, for 54 years—said the meeting, held in the Town House of the New Canaan Historical Society. “Is there going to be open space attached to the land the water company has or do they intend to build a McMansion there or exactly what is the future?” Papp said. He added: “During the period of the delay, I think, all political pressure should be borne to Norwalk to influence that [trustee]. Continue Reading →

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‘They Contradict Themselves’: Town Officials Decry Unpermitted Demolition on White Oak Shade

The New Canaan Historical Society has extensive files that document houses, many of which are gone now, including by demolition, the head of the organization said Thursday. Curious people, such as descendants of those who used to live in those homes, often visit the Oenoke Ridge Road organization’s research library to find out what they can about them or to view photographs of the structures, according to Executive Director Nancy Geary. Yet in the case of a pre-American Revolutionary War era White Oak Shade Road home that’s undergone an unpermitted demolition of its second floor, that’s no longer possible. “From our point of view, for there not to be a process where we can at least get out and document what was there, what was the original 1750 house, to preserve that for the records of New Canaan history, to me is a great shame,” Geary said during a meeting of the Historical Review Committee. The volunteer group convened in the Historical Society’s Town House to decide whether to delay the demolition-in-progress at 251 White Oak Shade Road, a project that’s been under a cease-and-desist order from New Canaan’s chief building official since Feb. Continue Reading →

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White Oak Shade Home Under Cease-and-Desist Has Curious Footnote in New Canaan History

The White Oak Shade home now under a cease-and-desist order after an unpermitted demolition of its second floor dates to about 1750, historic preservationists say, and appears originally to have belonged to a Canaan Parish family that earned a curious—and rather treacherous—footnote in the history of the town. According to New Canaan Historical Society files cited by Rose Scott Long, co-president of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, the home at 251 White Oak Shade Road had been labeled at one time as the “William Reid, Sr. House.”

Records show that it has been renovated several times since the 18th Century, making it “difficult to discern what was original and what was fabricated to appear original,” Scott Long told NewCanaanite.com. One historical record also notes that the home at some point was “moved back from the road.”

A census records list unearthed by Scott Long indicates that in 1790—the year of the first census in the United States—the home was inhabited by a “William Reed, Jr.”

Turning back to the clock about a dozen years, to the American Revolutionary War—historians note that in Canaan Parish (recall that New Canaan, as we know it, wasn’t incorporated until 1801), one practice among patriots as well as Loyalists seeking to maximize value in trade was to drive cattle across Westchester County to trade with the British, who paid in coin rather than unreliable Continental paper money. (Mary Louise King notes in her “Portrait of New Canaan” history that Maj. Benjamin Tallmadge, among other heroic feats of battle during the war, in 1779 moved against that illicit trade.)

The year that Lord Cornwallis would surrender, in October, at Yorktown, Va.—1781—opened in Canaan Parish with “Samuel Cooke Silliman presiding over the trials of three men and a woman who had been trading with the enemy,” King writes. Continue Reading →

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Cease-and-Desist Issued at White Oak Shade Home After Unpermitted Partial Demolition

Building officials this week issued a cease-and-desist order to the owners of an antique White Oak Shade Road home that appears already to have undergone a partial demolition though no such approvals have been granted, documents show. The New Canaan Building Department last week issued a permit for an interior renovation on the first and second floors of the 18th Century Cape Cod style-home at 251 White Oak Shade Road. The homeowners on Wednesday applied for a demolition permit. Yet a look at the ca. 1700-built Cape on Thursday showed that the second floor already had been completely demolished. Continue Reading →

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