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.

‘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.

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.

New Canaan Historic Preservationists Select Firm To Prepare Waveny’s Listing on National Register of Historic Places

A nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation in New Canaan is hiring a Pawtucket, R.I.-based firm to put together an application to list one of the town’s most cherished properties on the National Register of Historic Places. It isn’t clear yet just which buildings or portion of the grounds at Waveny—beyond the 1912-built main house—will be included in the application that Public Archeology Laboratory Inc. is to prepare, according to Rose Scott Long, co-president of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. If approved, Waveny will become the first public property in New Canaan to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town three years ago voted to back the Preservation Alliance in pursuing the listing. The listing itself has absolutely no bearing on what the town does with main house, grounds or any outbuildings.

‘A Really Wonderful Model for the Neighborhood’: Officials Offer High Praise for Forest Street Home Design in Voting 4-0 To Lift Demolition Delay

Calling the redesign of a new home on Forest Street tasteful, respectful of the property’s historic past and exemplary for an important neighborhood, town officials last week voted unanimously to lift a delay on the demolition of an existing structure. Members of the Historical Review Committee voted 4-0 at their Jan. 5 meeting to lift a delay instituted last month on demolishing the ca. 1830-built home at 74 Forest St. “You have made significant changes—positive changes—I think you have created a winner here, a really wonderful model for the neighborhood and an example for others who will come after you,” committee member Martin Skrelunas said during the group’s meeting, held at the New Canaan Historical Society’s Town House.