New Canaan Historical Society

Recent Articles

‘The Town Has Never Ever Supported the Society’: New Canaan Historical Society Officials Voice Concerns About Proposed Zoning Regulations

A set of proposed zoning regulations now before the town risks punishing the New Canaan Historical Society as the donor- and member-supported nonprofit pursues a long-term goal of developing an “Education Center” on its campus above God’s Acre, a member of the organization’s Board of Governors said last week. The rather specific requirements for a “child care center” that the interim town planner has proposed for the New Canaan Zoning Regulations “could, under some circumstances, be punitive to the New Canaan Historical Society” by preempting the organization’s plans, Nick Yanicellli told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission at their regular meeting. “I trust that P&Z reviews every site plan for anything that happens, and will have an opportunity modify and deny certain aspects of the plan, under a special permit,” Yanicelli said at the May 29 meeting, held in Town Hall. “But it has to be clear this is not ‘spot zoning’ because somebody has another idea of what should go there instead of an Education Center, and while everything else is grandfathered, the Historical Society shouldn’t be precluded from moving forward.”

He added that, “to my knowledge, the town has never ever supported the Society in any way, shape or form.”

“It is the repository of all the essential facts and reports of the town. It houses all the archival records related to the town’s history and it is a resource for town officials, local businesses and residents throughout the community. Continue Reading →

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How Involved Should Residents Be in Deciding the Future of Public Buildings?

Though their input is valuable, New Canaan taxpayers ultimately should rely on their elected and appointed representatives to make decisions regarding the future of town-owned buildings rather than put such questions to a public referendum, officials say. Structures such as Gores Pavilion, Vine Cottage and Irwin House “don’t exist in a vacuum” and their capital needs are part of “a very fluid process,” Board of Finance member and Town Building Evaluation & Use Committee co-chair Amy Murphy Carroll said during the recent Forum on Public Buildings. Responding to a suggestion that putting key decisions on public buildings to a ballot so that residents can determine “what they do with their tax dollars,” Murphy Carroll questioned “how that it would be all that productive to do that.”

“You elected the people on the Town Council, right?” she said during the April 26 forum, held at Town hall. “You elected your representatives.”

While Murphy Carroll and her fellow panelists—First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Town Council Chairman John Engel, and Town Council members Cristina A. Ross and Penny Young, who also served as committee co-chair—agreed that input from the community is greatly encouraged and appreciated, she and others stressed that residents should also trust them to make the best decisions for the town. Young said that there need to be more public forums allowing residents to express their opinions about how the buildings should be used. Continue Reading →

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Public Buildings InfoSheet: Irwin House

[Editor’s Note: The following “Statement of significance” has been prepared in advance of the April 26 Forum on Public Buildings, to be held 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Town Hall—more information is available here and 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: 1963
Square Footage: 7,963
Current Uses: Recently provided swing space offices for the town, though a long-term use has not been identified. Committee Recommendations: Either put Irwin House to work or consider whether continued maintenance and the contingent liability is warranted. Potential use would be relocation of the Board of Educaiton from its leased office space either through a renovation/expansion or replacement, depending on the most cost effective and building appropriate analysis. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Owners of Valley Road Antique Slated for Demolition: We Will Sell House with Some Land, Not Entire Parcel

The owners of a prominent, antique Valley Road home that’s slated for demolition say they’re confused by a letter that New Canaan town officials sent Monday, urging them to work toward preserving the house. That’s because the owner of 1124 Valley Road—Norwalk’s First Taxing District—on March 27 met with New Canaan’s highest elected official and others and proposed selling the house and property it sits on to a local organization for a price that group has said it can afford, according to Dominick DiGangi, general manager of the First District Water Department. Specifically, DiGangi told NewCanaanite.com, he proposed a lot line reconfiguration that would bring the 18th Century home onto an adjacent New Canaan Land Trust parcel for less than $1.2 million while then also adding some land to the existing 4-acre parcel at 1124 Valley Road so that it still meets setback distances under the New Canaan Zoning Regulations. The 4-acre property itself is no longer for sale as such, DiGangi said. “We are not going to change our mind about the land,” he said. Continue Reading →

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Police: 32-Year-Old Man Arrested Following Sunday Break-In at New Canaan Historical Society

Police on Sunday night arrested a 32-year-old Orlando, Fla. man in connection with a break-in at the New Canaan Historical Society. At about 6:27 p.m. on March 25, officers were dispatched to the God’s Acre organization’s campus on a report that someone had just broken into a building, police said. There, officers found the man walking down Main Street holding an umbrella, rock and stick, according to a police report. The witness identified him as the person seen leaving the Historical Society, the report said. Continue Reading →

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