New Canaan Now & Then: Broad Brook Farm


82 Ponus Ridge

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

Broad Brook Farm, or 82 Ponus Ridge, as it was named by Edward Plaut in the 1930s, is now a group of houses that make up Broad Brook Drive (which runs directly through the former estate) and surrounding streets. 

Plaut, the Vice President of Lehn & Fink Drug Company in Bloomfield, New Jersey, purchased the property from Gayer Dominick. Mr. Dominick relocated to Silvermine. Broad Brook Farm was immediately a sensation in town, boasting “the largest landscape gardening job in Connecticut” according to the August 17, 1944 article in the Advertiser. Mr. Plaut, who married in 1933, had a very public divorce where his first wife sued him for $350,000 citing  “intolerable cruelty since January 1, 1935.” (April 29, 1937 Advertiser article). Mr. Plaut went on to remarry and was active in local politics for many years. He sold the home to Thomas J. Watson in 1942. 

Thomas J. Watson, Jeannette Kittridge Watson, and their four children initially used the home as a summer residence, having frequented New Canaan during the warmer months since 1938. Watson was the chairman and CEO of IBM and is credited with growing the company into an international force. The Watsons sold this home in 1948 and moved to 36 acres at 848 Weed Street (what is now Irwin Park.)  

The new owners of 82 Ponus Ridge Road were the Friar’s Minor of the Byzantine Slavonia of North America (a division of the Franciscan Order in the Roman Catholic Church) who purchased the property for $105,000. The property became the Holy Protection Monastery of New Canaan according to a Fair Press article dated January 1, 1978 and included 60 acres, a swimming pool, tennis courts and the large brick mansion that was the former home of the Watsons. Initially, 20 friars moved in, but their numbers dwindled to four and the space became too expensive to maintain. According to a Stamford Advocate article dated March 12, 1989 the Holy Protection Order of Franciscan Friars sold the monastery to developers, One thousand Four Associates. 

The developers vowed to keep the four story Tudor style mansion and divided the property into 14 one acre lots on the nearly 15 acres of the Stamford section of the property. Unfortunately, the Advocate reported that a “big rubbish fire” on September 23, 1989 destroyed the building. The article reports that it took 45 minutes to snake 4500 feet of hose from a fire hydrant in springdale up to Ponus Ridge and the building was lost. The same article reports that 29 four bedroom homes were being built on the property in its entirety. The Broad Brook Farm Development was advertised as the newest development in New Canaan in the New Canaan Advertiser dated October 31, 1991. Sixteen homes were built, all designed by architect Boris Pogacnik according to a November 18 article and some offered distant views of Long Island Sound.

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