New Canaan Now & Then: ‘Raymond Building’ on Main Street


Now & Then: 'Raymond Building' on Main

This week, we feature a photo of Country Trader, a toy store in downtown New Canaan from about 1955 to 1974.

Launched by Richard Franco—brother of Aunt Lydia “Lee” Franco O’Neil and father of many Francos known to New Canaanites today (including Rick, Carl, Mike, Tom, Kelley and Katie), Country Trader started out a bit further south on Main Street, where Spiga restaurant currently is located, and then moved to the “Raymond Building” at 102 Main, according to Tom Franco.

“Around 1960 he moved to Upper Elm where Consider the Cook is,” Tom Franco said. “He stayed at that location until maybe 1970 when he moved to the The Raymond building, where Greenwich Pharmacy was. He sold all the top toys, plastic models, bikes and was big on records. He always had the top 100 billboard 45s and albums.”

Tom Franco snapped the photo shown here while on leave from the U.S. Army around 1972.

According to New Canaan Museum & Historical Society records, during a blizzard on February 13, 1899, a devastating fire destroyed everything along a section of Main Street known as “Raymond’s block” except 102 Main. William Edgar Raymond lost several buildings. In May, 1899, construction began on the current Raymond Building. It took seven months to build and cost $15,000.  

The building had stores at street level and offices, as well as a banquet/dance hall, upstairs. The post office was once housed there; it was the original location of Silliman’s Hardware and the site of Walter Stewart’s second store.  

From 1922-1931, the African Methodist Episcopal Church—now the Community Baptist Church—met in the banquet hall. The church then moved to its current location on Cherry Street.

In an attempt to mimic the exterior of what is now Chase Bank, the current “modern” limestone facade was installed sometime in 1965. The owner at the time, Jeroll Silverberg, was quoted as saying he “wanted to take Main Street out of the Old Western town seen on television and turn it into a contemporary New England village setting.”

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

3 thoughts on “New Canaan Now & Then: ‘Raymond Building’ on Main Street

  1. Another great piece! I’m curious if there are photos of what that stretch looked like without the modern limestone facade? Have always been curious how that block would look if the metal grid and siding was removed to just show a nice brick building. Also, is there still a dance hall upstairs? How cool would it be to have another live music joint downtown??

    • Thank you for looking back at the Raymond Building. The building has an amazing past having originally housed the New Canaan post office almost 100 years ago. Built in the 1980s, the building has witnessed one hundred and forty years of history.

      The building’s current facade was originally modified by local architects using an Asia-inspired design, a very modern approach at the time, but dated by today’s standards. To honor the wishes of my father, Jeroll Silverberg, a second-generation New Canaanite, who loved everything modern, and as a relatively new custodian of the building, I will be giving the building an updated modern design. The old bars will be coming off to bring forth a white aluminum on black brick design which will provide a timeless yet sophisticated look that will uplift our downtown zone for years to come.

      Thank you again for the look back.

  2. Thanks for bringing back memories of my growing up during the 1940’s and 50’s in New Canaan. It was a different town then. Like everywhere, times and people have changed. Looking forward to more old memories.

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