Congregational Church, Town Find Contractor To Repair ‘Wayside Cross’ at God’s Acre


The Wayside Cross is being supported by a makeshift structure until it's fully repaired and can stand upright on its own. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Congregational Church of New Canaan and town have agreed on a contractor to repair a damaged World War I monument on God’s Acre that was damaged during a police pursuit this past summer.

The Wayside Cross (local history here) will be repaired by Lorton, Va.-based Rugo Stone, under a $31,166 contract that the Board of Selectmen is scheduled to take up at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

The Rev. Dr. Stephen Chapin Garner, senior minister at the Congregational Church, told in an email when asked about the monument’s status that “the church and town have been working really well together” to try and get it repaired in time for the Nov. 11 Veterans Day ceremony at God’s Acre.

VFW Post 653 member John McLane, a U.S. Army captain in Vietnam, said that the Wayside Cross at God’s Acre “has been a memorial to those who have lost their lives serving this country since right after World War I.”

“Our New Canaan VFW Post holds a service there every Veterans Day,” McLane said. “It is a very special place for us.”

New Canaan’s Frank Gallo served in World War II. Listen to his interview with Hometown Heroes Radio here:

The VFW made headlines in New Canaan this summer when, after an initial snub from the selectmen and Board of Finance, and subsequent pushback from the Town Council, the Board of Selectmen vowed to honor the organization’s modest request for $15,000 in American Rescue Plan Act funds. The VFW-organized Memorial Day Parade and ceremony rank among the best-attended annual community events in New Canaan. The VFW’s oldest member, 96-year-old Frank Gallo—a U.S. Army private and assistant gunner during World War II who earned a Bronze Star following his service during and after the Battle of the Bulge in Germany—was honored recently by Hometown Heroes Radio (listen to his interview here).

The Wayside Cross was left leaning following an incident on the morning of Aug. 24, when police received a report of a vehicle with two men seen stealing mail from mailboxes on White Oak Shade Road. An officer stopped the suspect vehicle after spotting it on Locust Avenue, and it subsequently fled the scene. An officer trying to assist in the pursuit crashed into the Wayside Cross while trying to negotiate the curve at St. John’s Place and Main Street. The suspects were last seen traveling south on Route 106 toward the parkway, and the incident remains under investigation. The officer suffered minor injuries.

Frank Gallo’s citation for the Bronze Star. Listen to his interview with Hometown Heroes Radio here:

Garner said at the time that the church is “grateful no one was hurt in the accident when the Town of New Canaan Police Cruiser hit the Wayside Cross, and we expect to continue to have an amicable working relationship with the Town to repair this important and historic town treasure honoring our World War I veterans.”

The collaboration between the town and Congregational Church comes even as a separate matter of disagreement between the two entities lingers. Two years ago, a plan to install a permanent terrace at the top of God’s Acre hit a roadblock when church officials pushed back, prompting First Selectman Kevin Moynihan to call for clarification on who owns the parcel at the heart of New Canaan’s Historic District (and also have the designated “owner” of God’s Acre on the town’s tax assessor field card changed from the generic “cemetery” to “Town of New Canaan.”) By the following April (2021), the town had spent more than $41,000 in legal fees on the matter, according to legal bills, helping to drive the town’s legal spending over budget. The legal spending on the matter has continued—at a meeting earlier this month, the selectmen approved a legal bill with another $376 spent with Town Attorney Ira Bloom’s firm of Berchem Moses PC on the “God’s Acre platform,” according to the bill.

3 thoughts on “Congregational Church, Town Find Contractor To Repair ‘Wayside Cross’ at God’s Acre

    • From the DPW:

      “The BOS Approved a contract with Rugo Stone totaling $31,166 for the repair (and 3-D Digital Scan) of the Wayside Cross as follows:

      Rugo Stone
      – Repair and Resetting of Monument $19,216.00
      – 3D Digital Scan and Drawing File $7,950.00

      Project Costs:
      § Rugo Stone (incl’g scan) $27,166.00
      § Contingency 15% ($4,074.90) $4,000.00
      § Total $31,166.00

      The Wayside Cross is made of Travertine. Travertine is a sedimentary rock made of calcium carbonate minerals which is much different from granite.

      The Wayside Cross is nearing its 100th anniversary next year. There are very few companies that specialize in this type of work or repair. Given the importance of the monument to the Townspeople we wanted to ensure we had one of the best companies to perform the repair. The Town will be seeking reimbursement from our insurance carrier for the cost of the repair.”

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