Historic District Officials Raise Concerns About Red Cross Building on Main Street


Town officials say they’re concerned that the 1889-built Red Cross building on Main Street appears to be deteriorating and are eager to steer the nonprofit organization toward grants available for capital repairs.

The Red Cross building at 51 Main St. Credit: Michael Dinan

The Red Cross building at 51 Main St. Credit: Michael Dinan

The building’s owners appear to have taken care of some problems with the 2,600-square-foot structure at 51 Main St. but its porch appears to have regressed further, members of the Historic District Commission said at their most recent meeting.

“We are reaching a point where it is beyond sheer stabilization, it is reaching that point,” Commissioner Martin Skrelunas said at the June 25 meeting, held at the New Canaan Historical Society.

New Canaan’s historic district encompasses 21 structures near and around God’s Acre, including the building at number 51 that the Red Cross purchased in 1952 for $28,000. (The building and .38-acre property, which adjoins the town-owned Vine Cottage and Town Hall parcel, were assessed last year for $895,930 together.) Before structures within the Historic District undergo exterior changes, approval is required from the commission (see Town Code, Chapter 31-6). The group also flags properties that appear to be falling into disrepair.

Skrelunas and the commission’s acting chair, Janet Lindstrom, said they had met with Red Cross building officials to voice their concerns and planned now to advise the organization about grants available to get the work done. The Red Cross had said it did not have funds immediately available to do more repairs, Lindstrom said.

Asked about the building, Red Cross spokesperson Paul Shipman issued this statement: “We work hard to be a good neighbor and we are glad that the Historic District Commission members were pleased with the investments we made in replacing the roof and painting the building. We understand and appreciate the Commission’s interest in the Chapter House and their willingness to explore ways to support repairs to the building.”

Historic District Commission Secretary Terry Spring, who volunteered to draft a letter to the Red Cross summarizing the group’s concerns, noted at the meeting that the town appears to have a line on the organization, since parking for municipal workers appears to have been set aside out back of the building with the reopening of Town Hall.

It isn’t clear whether the town plans to make further use of the property or structure itself.

Asked about the situation, First Selectman Rob Mallozzi told NewCanaanite.com: “The town has a great relationship with the Red Cross and is exploring all options for better utilization of that property and building.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *