New Canaan Historical Society

Recent Articles

‘A Full Rich Experience’: Conservancy Reviews History of Waveny Park, Future Plans

Perhaps the most important step taken by the last family to own privately what is today known as Waveny Park was in hiring the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm to design its grounds and gardens, a local expert said Wednesday. Led by the Brooklyn-born founder of Texaco Oil Company, the Lapham family not only built Waveny House but oversaw creation of the carefully cultivated area immediately around it, including the walled garden, according to Keith Simpson, a New Canaan-based landscape architect. Yet since New Canaan acquired the property in 1967, its main house, outbuildings and grounds all have needed regular repair and upkeep, such as when Simpson and the Garden Club restored the walled garden east of the prominent brick structure in 1982. “But it’s only a small area,” Simpson told more than 100 listeners gathered in the Visitors Center at the New Canaan Nature Center for an hour-long talk on the cherished public park. “More places need attention. Continue Reading →

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Did You Hear … ?

A motorist stopped after striking a roaming dog with his Jeep Grand Cherokee at about 8:13 p.m. last Friday, Dec. 2, according to a police report. The conscientious driver looked for and found the dog lying on the side of Silvermine Road along the straightaway below Carter Street, the report said. The animal was responsive and appeared to have injured its right leg, it said. An owner arrived on scene, saying the animal appeared to have gotten out of the family’s house accidentally and then breached an electric fence, and took the dog to a vet. Continue Reading →

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Letter: New Canaan Historical Society Seeks Information on ‘Maple Street Cemetery’

To the editor:

The Merritt Village approval, which came late Tuesday night, Nov. 29, after the Planning & Zoning Commission hearing, was made with conditions which were to be released to the public as early as Nov. 30. The Board of the New Canaan Historical Society has requested, and would like to receive, the document containing the conditions, since many are understood to relate to the historic Maple Street Cemetery, an “ancient burial ground,” according to state statutes. Results from the second GPR (ground penetrating radar scan), completed in mid-November, contained at least two anomalies, which resulted in a soil test of Parcel P and surrounding area, prior to Thanksgiving. We would also like to know what resulted from this soil test. Were human remains, grave shafts, or other items found in this area? Continue Reading →

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Janet Lindstrom To Retire After 34 Years with New Canaan Historical Society

The New Canaan Historical Society announced Tuesday that Executive Director Janet Lindstrom will retire after 34 years with the nonprofit organization. The longtime town resident began her career at the Historical Society as a volunteer and joined its Board of Governors in 1981, according to a press release. “Telling the story of our town has been a great honor,” Lindstrom said in the press release. “I’ve played a special part of the society’s 127-year continuum, preserving the history of this exceptional place and helping generations of people to explore what makes our community so special.”

Mark Markiewicz, board president, confirmed with that Lindstrom will remain in her role until a successor starts. Founded in 1889, the Historical Society keeps an active research library on the town, runs exhibitions out of The Town House at 13 Oenoke Ridge Road, where a meeting room is named after Lindstrom, publishes historical newsletters and pamphlets, holds educational tours and exhibitions and owns a handful of historic buildings in town. Continue Reading →

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Besieged by Complaints and Misinformation, ‘Merritt Village’ Developer Withdraws Offer To Restore Abutting Cemetery

Though they’d support another group’s efforts, the owners of a 3.3-acre parcel on the edge of downtown New Canaan said Tuesday that they’re withdrawing an offer to restore, plaque and protect an abutting, long-ignored and historically important cemetery after hearing complaints that its presence should disrupt the their widely discussed redevelopment plans. When they applied to the town in June to create 123 housing units on the Merritt Apartments property where 38 now exist, the property’s owners hired a consultant who determined that Ezra Benedict’s 1852-buit “Maple Street Cemetery” is one generation away from vanishing due to neglect. After running a sonar scan of the grounds and tracking down the heirs of 52 people buried there, property owner M2 Partners developed plans for rejuvenating the cemetery into a local landmark, with reset gravestones, family grouping and a plaque recognizing the remains of those interred with no headstone. “We were happy to do that and after the effort and time and the lack of consideration back to us of the applicant, we have withdrawn our offer of fencing it off, putting a plaque on it, putting a gate there and making sure it is not a ball field,” Arnold Karp of M2 Partners said during a subcommittee meeting of New Canaan’s legislative body. “So whatever the Historical Society or the group of New Canaan residents who feel it should be taken care of, we are in favor of that,” he said at the Town Council Subcommittee on Infrastructure and Utilities meeting, held at Town Hall. Continue Reading →

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