New Canaan Now & Then: The Husted Welling House


Rendering courtesy of the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society

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

The property on Park Street which is now home to the Sanctuary Condominiums was once owned by Levi Hanford. 

Hanford sold the land to Jesse Crissey, then to Hiram Crissey before it was sold to Silvanus Seely. It was speculated that Silvanus Seely built the home for his wife, Sally Crissey Seely. Ms. Seely, who died in 1850, was the sister of Prudence Crissey Husted. 

On April 1, 1851 Prudence Crissey Husted purchased the property from Silvanus Seely. Ms. Husted was 60 years old at the time and her husband, Thomas Seymour Husted, had died three years before. The Husteds were married in 1813 and had seven children (three predeceased them). They were members of the Congregational Church for 19 years before they transferred to the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, which was the traditional church of Ms. Husted’s family. 

The Crissey family was large and most of their interests and connections were rooted in Stamford and Darien, but they were also prominent landowners on the south side of New Canaan. 

The Husteds were rooted in Greenwich. Robert Husted was born in County Somerset England in 1596 and came to Massachusetts in 1635 before moving to first Stamford and then Greenwich. His son, Angell, was interested in civic issues and in July 1640 he was a witness to the Indian deed of Greenwich, Old Town, to the early Greenwich settlers. Angell Husted had two sons, Jonathan and Peter and they moved to Old Canaan Parish. Jonathan married Hannah St. John Carter and Peter married Ann Seymour of Norwalk on October 23, 1746. Peter Husted was a blacksmith and ran a carriage shop on Hayne’s Ridge (now Oenoke Ridge). Peter and his wife, Abigail, had at least seven children, including Thaddeus Husted who was the father of Thomas Seymour Husted. 

The building was consistent with construction of that time—built close to the road with low ceilings, the main floor level with the street, and both an entrance living room and a back living room. 

Prudence Husted died of pleurisy on November 30, 1864 at the age of 73. She left the property to her children:  James T. Husted, Thomas S. and Hiram C. Husted of Cumberland Indiana and to Emma and Robert Clay of New York City. James Husted had married Catherine [also known as Katherine or Kate] Corson of the Cornelius Corson family of Staten Island. James released his claim on the property to Catherine’s brother Cornelius for $50. On June 1, 1866 these rights were conveyed to James T. and “Kate” S. Husted for $500, indicating he changed his mind. He purchased an adjoining 1 ¾ parcel from David S. Rockwell for $575. 

It is interesting to note that these transactions contain a covenant regarding the care of the “ditch” (the drain, brook or stream). The “ditch” was actually the East Branch of the Noroton River described in Landmarks of New Canaan as a“Watershed that begins where Oenoke Ridge meets West, under St. John’s Place, Seminary and Elm and Richmond Hill to  Mead Park, from the Park it continues through the former Husted property, the Bird Sanctuary, under the railroad tracks and continues to the ponds on lower Weed…” The Husteds sold the property in 1877 for $3,000 to Mary E. Wilson but, two years later, she quit claimed it back to the Husteds at the same price.  

James T. Husted owned two boats in New York Harbor which were used to carry water from the Croton Waterworks to supply departing ships. He was a shareholder in the Croton Waterworks which supplied water to New York City. Mr. Husted hosted Boss Tweed of Tammany fame. Kate Husted was a supporter of the New Canaan Library which was then known as “the reading room.” She died on April 28, 1883. James Husted died in 1897.

James and Kate Husted had three daughters, one of whom was Annie.  Her son was the Right Reverend Stephen E. Keeler D.D. Bishop of Minnesota, who played in the house as a child.  He remembered “a house of several levels, with unusual passages and stairways, all of which were very fascinating to a  young boy.”  

The property was not sold by his estate until 1904 when it was purchased by Charles W. Hodge for $1. Mr. Hodge sold it for the same price two years later to Mary J. Lent of Mount Kisco, New York. Ms. Lent left the property to her husband, Edward N. Lent, and her sons, Edward N. Lent and Henry P. Lent. In May 1919 the property was sold to Benjamin P. Vanderhoof and Elizabeth Mason Vanderhoof. The Vanderhoofs’ deed states that the property was bound on the North side by Mead Memorial Park, which would be an early reference to the park. Ms.Vanderhoof’s sister, Maud, lived with them until the Vanderhoofs deeded a small portion of the property to her. Ms. Maud Mason was a painter and a ceramist and had a small studio on her property. The Vanderhoofs sold the property for $14,000 (with a covenant regarding the ditch) to John A. Clark. Mr. Clark sold the property on March 4, 1929 to Charles H. and Mary (Gertrude)  Welling. 

The Wellings lived in the house for 17 years. Mary referred to the house as “the fun house.” The Wellings built a new home on the property on the site of what was the guest house. The Wellings were a military family  and their sons, Charles H. and Lambert both served in the navy. Charles H. Sr. served in active military duty at the Mexican Border Campaign and in World War I as a field artillery captain, and was a specialist in the development and marketing of new industrial products.  

Photo of Skywatch Tower, courtesy of the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society

Mary Welling had an interesting role in town – she was recognized by the Kiwanis Club on July 30, 1955 as the leader of the Ground Observer Corps for her “unselfish contributions” to the organization and the manning of the Skywatch Tower. The Skywatch Tower was on Lone Tree Road and was moved to the Welling property (at their expense) after the tower was no longer operational. Mary and Charles both died in 1979.

The Wellings sold the Husted home to Annie S. Gilbert on July 2, 1946 and the Gilberts sold the property on September 2, 1950 to Richard F. and Mary Baum. The property was then sold to Homer Bernier on December 10, 1982. A builder, Mr. Bernier served as the chair of the Parking Commission for many years, was a member of the Rotary Club, and a member of the building committee for the new police station. 

The Husted Welling house was torn down to make way for condominiums in the 1980s. Mr. Bernier died at the age of 65 and a tree was planted on Elm Street in 1991 in his memory.

One thought on “New Canaan Now & Then: The Husted Welling House

  1. Fascinating that the Vanderhoof’s also lived at the Husted property next to Mead Park. Two interesting points here. Mrs Vanderhoof was President of the Bird Protective Society in the mid-1930’s and thereby responsible for the nearby Bird Sanctuary now known as Bristow Park. The other interesting point is the national accomplishments of her sister Maud Mason, whose painting and ceramic art is still marketed today as evident in and

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