Formal Objection to Demolition of ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ Filed; 90-Day Demo Delay Possible

Days after New Canaan’s highest elected official dismissed a bid to preserve a long-vacant town-owned structure on Richmond Hill Road, a resident seeking to stave off demolition has filed a formal objection to that end. Mimi Findlay, a founder of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, in a letter filed with the town’s chief building official, reviews the history of the “Mead Park Brick Barn” and makes a case for its historical and architectural significance. 

Under the Town Code, the volunteer Historical Review Committee will study the matter and, if that panel finds that the structure “is of historical, architectural or cultural significance to the Town of New Canaan,” it can force a 90-day delay on the demolition from the date of the demo permit application. 

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that application went into the town last week. 

The question of whether to demolish the building has come before the town in the past, and has stirred high emotion on both sides. The question of whether to demolish the Mead Park Brick Barn—or “Richmond Hill Garage,” as it has been called—has divided the town for many years. Though the town did vote in favor of razing the building—records show that demolition permits had been issued in April 2009 and August 2010—doing so proved to be cost-prohibitive due to the need for asbestos and lead paint remediation, sending the estimated cost of demolition to about $400,000. Then a new, far smaller figure of $65,000 emerged during last budget season.

Town Council Votes 10-0 To Support Boundary of Waveny Described in Application for Listing on National Register

New Canaan’s legislative body last week voted unanimously in support of a boundary set forth in an application to list Waveny on the National Register of Historic Places. Once a matter of deep division and some agonizing among Town Council members, the elected body’s 10-0 vote marks a big step toward formally seeking the largely honorific designation for Waveny. 

Worked out by a Pawtucket, R.I.-based nonprofit organization with input from the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, state historic preservation officials and others, the boundary that will define the Waveny listing encompasses much of the park as regular visitors have come to know it. “The boundary reflects the development of Waveny lands over time from the 18th Century to the present day and the layers of settlement and agriculture and state and town park history that make it such an interesting and attractive place,” Rose Scott Long, co-president of the NCPA, told member of the Town Council at their regular meeting. 

“As stated in the nomination documentation, Waveny is a testament to the town’s thoughtful stewardship of the property, in keeping with Ruth Lapham Lloyd’s wishes and use restrictions that she conveyed to the town for public benefit,” Scott Long said at the July 18 meeting, held in Town Hall. “Listing in the National Register is primarily an honor, makes properties eligible for owners to apply for public grants for preservation and consideration for fire and life safety code compliance alternatives.”

The boundary follows the Merritt Parkway to the south and South Avenue to the east. On the west side, it follows the Metro-North Railroad tracks to Old Stamford Road and runs north but does not include the Waveny Care Center property.

Objection Filed to Planned Demolition of Oenoke Ridge Road Antique Home [UPDATED]

Update 10 a.m. Tuesday

Saying a walk through the house at 1031 Oenoke Ridge Road with its owners and contractor showed that it has been modified so extensively as to negate historic value, the objecting party withdrew its objection. The withdrawal was registered Monday with town officials. Original Article

The town has received a letter objecting to the planned demolition of a ca. 1800 home on a 7.6-acre Oenoke Ridge Road property. The owner of 1031 Oenoke Ridge Road—a Delaware-registered limited liability company that purchased it for $5.8 million in August 2016—applied April 20 for permits to demolish both the 6,742-square-foot house and pool.

Public Buildings InfoSheet: Irwin Barn

[Editor’s Note: The following has been prepared in advance of the “Forum on Public Buildings,” to be held 6:30 to 9 p.m. on April 26 at Town Hall (questions for panelists can be submitted here). Most of the information in the bullet points below is drawn from the Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee report.]

Built: 1908
Square Footage: 4,128 s.f.
Current Uses: Storage
Committee Recommendations: Invest in stabilizing and repurposing the barn, whose very large spaces, two ground floor levels, proximity to park activities and architectural character lend it to many opportunities. Potential uses include Park and Rec’s headquarters and location of Park & Rec Summer Camp, restroom facilities servicing the park, some level of organized storage for Parks and other town departments, potential cell service equipment and flagpole tower, among others. Relevant articles: Garden Club Wants To Use Irwin Park (Including Barn) for May Flower Sale, Officials Report (March 2017)

Submitted by Mimi Findlay:

This large Carriage Barn was built by Dr. James F. McKernon, who bought the 70-acre property from Charles Comstock homestead in 1905. In 1908 McKernon built his two-and-a-half story Shingle Style summer house, this barn and a smaller building, perhaps the pump house, by the side of the driveway.

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].