Letter: Preserve the ‘Brick Barn’ at Mead Park

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The Brick Barn at Mead Park is historically significant. Constructed in 1911, it was a stable for horses used to deliver kerosene to local residents. Standard Oil’s delivery wagon filled its tanks and five-gallon containers to deliver to farms and retail stores, to the town for street lighting, public building heat and lighting, and to residential customers for lighting their oil lamps and fueling their oil heaters and stoves. During World War II Red Cross ladies met at the barn and rolled bandages and knitted for the troops. During and after the war the Town Band and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Fife & Drum Corps practiced patriotic music at the Barn to play for residents.  

A rendering of Mead Park Brick Barn after a proposed exterior renovation from the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. By Mark Markiewicz

The Brick Barn at Mead Park is architecturally significant. “As probably the last remaining example of such a delivery stable in Connecticut, this barn has great historic, cultural and architectural significance” said Bruce Clouette PhD, an independent Industrial Archeologist who has for 40 years prepared National Register nominations all over the state. I have enjoyed the Brick Barn’s architecture for decades — the massive lintel over the garage door, the arched windows and door. I’m proud of New Canaan’s Modern houses and its architectural diversity.

Sadly the Town has allowed the Brick Barn to deteriorate, such that it now has a leaking roof and broken windows. This is destruction by neglect. Yes, occupants of buildings around The Brick Barn complain that it blocks their view of the park. Well, the Brick Barn was there long before they were. The Brick Barn predates even Mead park. The large beautiful cottonwood trees behind the barn actually block out more of the park. I am grateful that New Canaan residents with vision and energy preserved the Powerhouse at Waveny, the Carriage Barn at Waveny, and the Gores Pavilion at Irwin Park, each of which was at one point unused, in disrepair, full of trash, and considered for demolition. Today they are gems of New Canaan.

The Brick Barn is a gem, an important part of New Canaan’s history. A group of architects and concerned citizens has put together a plan to save the Brick Barn. State and foundation funds for preservation are available — the Lockwood Mathews Mansion in Norwalk is in line to receive a $5 million State grant for improvements. Over 300 New Canaan citizens have signed a petition to save the Brick Barn. The Town has budgeted $65,000 for the demolition of the Brick Barn. Let’s save that demolition money and preserve an important part of New Canaan’s history, the Brick Barn.

4 thoughts on “Letter: Preserve the ‘Brick Barn’ at Mead Park

  1. Really? We want to destroy another historical building in New Canaan because it blocks the view of newer homes in the area? Is that the criterion for cultural heritage in this town? Does New Canaan want to look like it was founded in 2000?
    Repair the roof, install new windows, utilize the space in a productive manner and let the Brick Barn once again be an integral part of New Canaan. 65 ooo dollars could be well spent on restoring this unique and useful structure from a bygone era.
    Praise for those with the visionary insight to preserve the past for future generations of New Canaan residents.

  2. Thank you Peter for a true and thoughtful overview on the Brick Barn and Mimi’s cogent comment! I’m concerned about a haste to demo this building. I realize it was been allowed to sink into neglect and the neighbors have had enough, but it would be unwise to race to tear it down pronto and forego the opportunity to access state & preservation funds. I don’t think our town has made use of these kind of funding resources in the past and this presents itself as a small scale trial for the town’s greater benefit. The plan for the Barn’s rejuevanation starts with the exterior of the building. That should go a long way to making the street view attractive.

  3. New Canaan is a precious gem so much due to her architectural history, interest and charm.

    It’s our duty to preserve and protect that because if we dont her magic will one day be gone.

    Thank you Peter and Bruce!

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