New Canaan Now & Then: ABC House


64 Locust Ave.

Just a short walk down the hill from the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society is 64 Locust Ave or ABC House.

This home was built in 1906 by Luther Scofield Knapp, referred to as L.S. Knapp in the photograph. Knapp was a native of Stamford and was born there in 1870. He spent most of his life living in New Canaan as a mason and contractor. He helped to build the First National Bank, which stands next to town hall, along with the Silliman building which stands on the north corner of Main and East Ave. He also helped to construct the last iteration of Center School in 1909. He was perhaps given this contract because he was elected to the School Committee in 1902, 1905, 1908, and 1915. He was also a member of the Board of Burgesses back when downtown New Canaan was a borough. Knapp’s wife Mary Provost, born in 1873, was a lifelong New Canaan resident, and was educated in the Little Red Schoolhouse on Carter Street (now one of the Museum’s historic properties.) The couple and their daughter Rose lived in the house for seventeen years until they moved to 28 Greene Ave.

64 Locust Avenue was then owned by Jennie Ferrera and her husband, Felice. Originally from New York City, Jennie moved to New Canaan in 1910. Jennie and Felice ran a food market that was located in the H.B. Rogers building on Main Street, which is now home to New Canaan Music and Stretch Lab. The couple also owned the building and it seems that Jennie was in charge of renting out the rooms. Various rent ads for the building can be seen in the Advertiser over a number of years all with Jennie’s name as the contact. Jennie also ran an ad in June of 1942 for fireworks she was selling from the market, claiming to be “carrying every type that the government allows.” With Jennie’s death in 1953, the house was then sold to Luigi Colarossi, who remodeled the building as a two family home. Eventually in 1971, he sold the house to Genesis Inc, which was a youth drug prevention program that used the building as its headquarters.

In 1974 with Genesis rethinking its mission, the house was sold to A Better Chance, or ABC.  ABC is a national charity that looks to help talented minority children attend excellent college preparatory schools. The New Canaan Chapter is one of twenty two  Community School Programs in the country that allow students to live in the community and attend the local high school. In 1989, the house underwent a $395,000 renovation, which included a remodeling of the interior of the building as well as adding some additional rooms.

“New Canaan Now & Then” is presented in partnership with the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society.

5 thoughts on “New Canaan Now & Then: ABC House

  1. The ABC House is one of the most wonderful institutions in New Canaan. The hard-working and talented young men who have the opportunity to reside there receive life lessons, as well a fine public school education, that enhances both their professional and private lives. Much credit and praise goes to the organizers, resident “managers”, and the students themselves. I am proud that the Exchange Club makes an annual donation and encourage everyone to make a contribution, large or small, to this most deserving institution.

    • Thank you so much for your kind comment and longstanding support of ABC House New Canaan. We’re so fortunate to have the Exchange Club as a partner in our mission to help our scholars reach their fullest academic potential and prepare them for success in college and beyond. Every day, these exceptional teens bring their commitment, energy, and enthusiasm to our classrooms and our town, which has embraced and supported our work since 1974. On behalf of the ABC House New Canaan scholars, staff, board, and volunteers, thank you again for your generosity and support.

      Jamie Boris
      Executive Director
      ABC House New Canaan

  2. The most striking aspect of these photos is that the power lines shown in the original photo, from 1906, are almost identical to the power lines that remain there today more than 100 years later. Despite the power outages, the repaved roads, new sidewalks, gas line installations, and everything else we have experienced since 1906, New Canaan still has power lines crisscrossing its landscape.

    • That is the first thing I noticed as well. The only change appears to be taller poles! I too am at a loss as to why we don’t somehow get the power company to bury them. They are an embarrassment.

    • This is the first thing I noticed too! And the lines are more intrusive and uglier now than back in the early 1900s. Such a pity we can’t do better.

Leave a Reply

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