Objection Filed to Proposed Demolition of Barn on New Canaan Country School Property

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Town Hall

Saying a barn on New Canaan Country School property has architectural and historical significance, a town resident has filed a formal objection to its proposed demolition. 

The private school on Aug. 1 applied to the New Canaan Building Department to demolish the estimated 4,500-square-foot, ca. 1870-built red barn, records show.

Citing Mary Louise King’s history “A Portrait of New Canaan,” Mimi Findlay, a founder of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, said the barn once was part of William Davenport’s farm.

“King relates that the farm was purchased from foreclosure by the the New Canaan Savings Bank at the end of the century by the Grace Church in NYC,” Findlay wrote in her objection letter, filed Wednesday with the chief building official.

“They built the large building, now the campus centerpiece, to house women and children coming from the church’s unhealthy urban environment, part of the nationwide movement to escape disease and contagious epidemics by coming to the country. It coincides with the arrival of doctors in New Canaan establishing a sanitarium and practices here, and the arrival of summer visitors for health reasons. Its architect has not been publicly identified. The old barn would have been used at that time to house horses, carriages and wagons for the use of those living and working there. I am sure the children must have enjoyed playing in the hayloft.”

Under the Town Code, now that the objection letter has been filed, the volunteer Historical Review Committee will study the matter and, if that panel finds that the structure “is of historical, architectural or cultural significance to the Town of New Canaan,” it can force a 90-day delay on the demolition from the date of the demo permit application. 

According to Findlay, the Country School purchased its Frogtown Road property in 1936 “moved from its cramped location in town.”

“At one time it was housed in the Maxwell Perkins house. The school has maintained and preserved the main house of Grace Church in the Fields and added appropriately designed wings. In recent years The the barn has been used to house machinery, for maintenance and storage. The barn represents the agricultural history, the social/health-medical history, and the educational history New Canaan.”

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