‘It’s a Complicated Building’: Water Is Infiltrating Waveny House’s Walls


Waveny House on May 14, 2024. Credit: Michael Dinan

Municipal officials are calling for a study of Waveny House after it was discovered that the iconic town-owned building is suffering from water infiltration in its walls.

Town residents should “know the scope of the seriousness of this,” according to Selectman Amy Murphy Carroll.

“I don’t think people realize, it’s a complicated building,” Murphy Carroll said at the May 1 Board of Selectmen meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference.

Inside Waveny House on May 14, 2024. Credit: Michael Dinan

“The ADA stuff’s complicated. It’s old. We bought it and did nothing with it forever. We have a way of doing that: same thing with Irwin Barn. So I think everybody across the town has to realize that if we’re going to keep this building, which I think we are, it’s not going to be cheap. And you’re going to have to spend the money, or you’re just going to spend more down the road, or it’s going to deteriorate.”

It isn’t clear how much the damage repair work will cost. The selectmen voted 3-0 to approve a contract with a New Haven-based company to make an assessment. The $38,950 contract with Hoffmann Architects + Engineers will cover studies of the facade and chimneys at both Waveny House and Lapham Community Center. 

“We’re getting water in areas where we haven’t had water previously, substantial amounts of water in some cases,” said Public Works Director Tiger Mann, who requested approval of the contract. “And we felt it was prudent at this time just to take another look before moving forward with any of the proposed projects that we have.”

The town has poured substantial money into Waveny House in recent years, approving a $2.3 million roof replacement, $778,000 contract for ADA compliance work (same contractor, who also is doing The Playhouse) and, as Mann alluded to, multi-million dollar bathroom and elevator projects.

Hoffmann has “done very nice work for us at the Police Department, they gave us some good recommendations there,” Mann said.

“We would like to have them come and take a look at this building for the exact [same] reason,” he added. “And we feel that we’re confident with the work that we have proposed to do, but it doesn’t hurt us to have someone else come in and take another look and see whether we’re on the right path—whether we’re on the right path and we should add a little bit, we’re on the right path and don’t have to add anything.”

First Selectman Dionna Carlson, Selectman Steve Karl and Murphy Carroll voted in favor of the contract. 

Karl said, “This is New Canaan’s house. There’s no getting around the fact that when we come together as a town, as a community, this is where we go to celebrate. There’s just no way around it. And it’s a big house. And it’s an expensive house, but we’ve got to take care of it.”

Carlson said that with the new report from Hoffmann the town will have three formal studies of Waveny House on which to base its decisions on projects.

“We can see what it is that has been identified as issues with this building,” she said. “We talked about the roof, but at that time there was a much bigger plan and it didn’t all get done. And was that identified and did we rob Peter to pay Paul?”

Karl said that at one point the town was looking at a $16 million project to do all of the work that Waveny House needed at once, though it’s been pieced out. Mann said some of the work, including the roof replacement, had been “kicked” down the road for many years before they got done.

The selectmen asked whether Hoffmann has inspected Waveny House yet (a rep did a walkthrough with town officials), whether the roof at Waveny was replaced in 2017 (yes) and whether there’s money to cover the contract in the DPW budget (yes).

Murphy Carroll asked about the timing of the study.

“How long before we got a report so we can get a game plan for getting this building watertight?” she said.

Mann said Hoffmann wants to start “quickly.”

“They don’t have many days in the field,” he said. “They’ll have to coordinate with their lift contractor, but they don’t have many days in the field, and they felt a two-week turnaround on the report [after] that so about a week in the field and a couple of weeks on the report and then we come back. At the time I had mentioned that, this is of utmost concern to the first selectman and myself. So the feeling is that we want this answer quicker, sooner rather than later, especially if we’re considering the fact that if they come back with a positive review on the proposed project, we would like to move that forward, as well. And that timing is of the essence also.”

8 thoughts on “‘It’s a Complicated Building’: Water Is Infiltrating Waveny House’s Walls

  1. If you do not address this issue fast – Mold will grow and will cost more money to fix/clean and may render the whole building unsafe to use until fixed.

  2. If anything is worth saving it’s the Wavney House. One will never know what will be found once they begin to prob into the many hidden problems. Water travels to areas tough to get too. Be prepared for the unknown…

  3. Sounds like we need to undertake a major town fundraiser to restore this town treasure with a solid overall plan and not just piecemeal work

  4. The New Canaan Preservation Alliance facilitated and funded the effort to have Waveny listed on the National Register of Historical Places.

    Our town grant writer, Greg Reilly, should begin research on federal and state preservation grants the national listing makes available to New Canaan.

  5. Over the years these town issues tend to generate a lot of over reaction. I am glad that the Board of Selectman has decided to bring in professionals that can
    hopefully provide rational analysis. Remember in 2016 when the former Teen Center was declared a hazard by the building inspector and closed. The initial decision was to tear it down until a professional study was done. It’s still here
    in 2024 serving as town offices.

Leave a Reply

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