Saint Aloysius Church had explored the possibility of refurbishing the house at 30 Maple St. for many years after the structure began to show signs of wear due to heavy use, according to the church’s former, longtime pastor.
The church’s leadership asked engineers and architects about how to renovate the building “so that we could continue to use it for teaching and meeting space,” the Rev. Msgr. William Scheyd said in a Dec. 29 to Planning & Zoning Commission Chair Dan Radman.
“It was the unanimous opinion of the experts I engaged that the best course of action was to tear down the building and consider building a structure that would better accommodate the needs of our growing parish family,” Scheyd said in the letter, submitted to P&Z along with its full application to rebuild its campus.
“They deemed the building unsafe on a number of fronts and believed that necessary renovations to get the building up to code and provide a safe and sufficient space for parish use would be very costly,” The letter continued. “I then began a process for developing a parish campus master plan, and Father [Rob] Kinnally—the current pastor—developed this plan into the current building plan.”
The church’s plans call for a 26,000-square-foot facility that will include a new school, community room, youth center, meeting spaces and large green area connecting all parts (see the full filing here).
The “Stick-style” house at 30 Maple St. has emerged as a focal point for local preservationists. In a letter objecting to the planned demolition, Mimi Findlay said the house is one of just two such structures in New Canaan, describing it as “gently used and beautifully preserved by the church since 1958” and “structurally sound with very few modifications.” Last month, the town’s Historical Review Committee imposed a 90-day demolition delay on the house, saying it has “historical, architectural or cultural significance” to New Canaan, as outlined in the Town Code.
P&Z is scheduled to take up the full application from St. A’s at its Jan. 24 meeting.
Scheyd wrote in his letter that the church’s plan “makes great sense for the parish, and I support it wholeheartedly along with the plan to demolish 30 Maple Street and construct a safer and larger building to accommodate the needs of the parish.”
“The age of the building cannot be the only consideration when deciding if its use can be continued,” he said. “The owner should be the one to determine its continuing viability to the purpose for which it was built.”