New Canaan Now & Then: The ‘First’ Methodist Church


Cherry & Main looking north

‘New Canaan Now & Then’ is sponsored by Brown Harris Stevens Realtors Joanne Santulli, Karen Ceraso, Bettina Hegel and Schuyler Morris.

Spiga Wine Bar & Salumeria, located at 134 Main Street directly across from the Morse Parking Lot was built in 1833 as the first Methodist Church in New Canaan.

It was originally located on the corner of Church and Main Street, but it was quickly too small for its growing congregation and in 1850 was moved by ox teams up Main Street to its present location. In its new location, the second floor was remodeled into a concert hall and the first floor was remodeled as a retail space.  The concert hall could seat 500 people and was used for amateur theatrical productions and for political speeches. P.T. Barnum, the well known entrepreneur and entertainer, produced a show in the venue and the former editor of New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, addressed a Republican meeting there. Unfortunately, the concert hall went bankrupt in 1863.

The town purchased the building in 1864 for $1,125 to use as the second Town Hall. The town constructed a police lock-up in the basement and installed an animal pound out back. Interestingly, where the current sidewalk is located there was a huge platform scale for weighing the loaded horse drawn carriages. When the Nichols Opera House was built in 1901 Town Hall moved to that location and 134 Main Street began its long life as a rental property.

One of the more interesting tenants in this period was the E.B. Lawrence Undertaking business which occupied the space in 1893. Mr. Lawrence’s business was so successful that he opened another location in Darien in 1931 which is still in business. Mr. Lawrence also served as the town treasurer for 23 years  and was the President of the First National Bank of New Canaan from 1923 until his death in 1936.  The building was sold at auction on July 7, 1908 to Benjamin P. Mead. Mr. Mead was responsible for the renovations that are familiar to us today. He added a third story, three bay windows on the second floor, and a concrete block facade on its front exterior wall. With this new ownership the building was dubbed “the Mead Block” by local residents. 

In October 1928, the bank purchased the so-called Mead Block for $70,000. By this point, the “Mead Block” extended beyond the original building and included the building next door, now numbered 132-138 Main Street. It continued to be rented as retail space during this time. In the late 1960s and 1970s the building was owned by Allen and Marguerite Saaf, two local realtors.  In 2000, Marguerite Saaff sold the building to the present owners.  In 2004, Wadia Associates, a well known architectural firm, moved to the upper floor space and made extensive renovations on the interior of the building, including an impressive winding bronze banister with railing which incorporates a calla lily design, skylights and copious windows. In 2012 the lower level was rented to the Barolo Wine Bar & Trattoria and in 2016 the space was rented out to the current occupants Spiga Wine Bar & Salumeria.

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