Town Approves Arts Festival Planned for Oct. 1 in Waveny

The Board of Selectmen this week approved use of Waveny Park for an arts festival operated by one of New Canaan’s best-established nonprofit organizations. The Carraige Barn Arts Center has proposed use of the area immediately outside its own building and the nearby Powerhouse Theatre for a one-time event to be held on Sunday, Oct. 1. Hilary Wittmann, the Carriage Barn’s executive director, said the festival will be free and open to the public and will coincide with her organization’s 45 Annual Member Show, featuring “artists, demonstrations, performances and workshops and in addition to the sale of painting, sculpture, jewelry and ceramics.”

“Approximately 35 artists would exhibit in 10-by-10 display spaces or tents in the park,” Wittmann told the selectmen at their regular meeting, held Tuesday in Town Hall and via videoconference. “In the parking area and courtyard area of the Carriage Barn and Powerhouse Theatre, that sort of section of the park.”

First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectmen Kathleen Corbet and Nick Williams voted 3-0 in favor of the use of Waveny.

Q&A: NCHS Annual Art Exhibition Opens This Week at Carriage Barn 

New Canaan High School’s annual exhibition, “Through Our Eyes XI” (see sample gallery above) opens Friday at the Carriage Barn Arts Center and runs through April 1. There’s an opening reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday. We put some questions to the Carriage Barn’s executive director, Hilary Wittmann, ahead of the show. Here’s our exchange:

New Canaanite: “Through Our Eyes XI,” the annual New Canaan High School exhibition, opens this week at the Carriage Barn Arts Center. Tell us about how the show comes together in terms of curation and submissions, and the partnership between your organization and NCHS.

Who Knew? Nothing Never Happens in the Suburbs

‘Who Knew?’ is sponsored by Walter Stewart’s Market. 

Admit it: you didn’t move to New Canaan for the nightlife. At whatever point you opted to put down roots in this charming (and evidently snowless) Yankee snowglobe, your first thought probably wasn’t, “but whither the superstar guest DJ, and whence the exclusive popup collabs?”

All the same, the choice to live here isn’t necessarily lights-out for your evening calendar. You’ve surely discovered your rotation of date night restaurants, pizza Friday stalwarts, and places with sports on the TV and cold beer on tap. But if, like me, you yearn to stretch your legs beyond a well-trodden routine, particularly now that the Sweatpants Years are finally in the rearview, know that events are firing back up into full swing for spring ‘23, and we’d all be remiss to miss them. 

If you don’t yet know about Chef Prasad’s collaborative dinner parties, let’s change that.  During COVID, Chef Prasad Chirnomula and his team renovated the dining room at 62 Main St. to serve as a teaching and communal kitchen instead. Daily service is now predominantly takeout, with bar seating available on weekends.

iPhone Photography Workshop at the Carriage Barn

Saturday, November 5 from 9am-Noon at the Carriage Barn Arts Center

Learn how to take stunning photographs and portraits using your iPhone with award-winning photographer and instructor Emily Kelting. Learn all about your iPhone’s in-camera options as well as several app choices, then head outside to practice your new skills. This class will cover the basics of composition, lighting, interest and editing on the iPhone:

1. Get Your Best Photo– The principles of photographic design
2. Explore What is Available in your i-phone Camera– After all, it’s the camera you always have with you

New Canaan Now & Then: The Carriage Barn 

The Carriage Barn Arts Center located in Waveny Park harkens back to the estate originally built by Thomas Hall. Hall purchased the property in 1895 and called it “Prospect Farm,” named for his previous  summer home located at 27 Prospect Street in Stamford.  Hall didn’t use an architect to design the Carriage Barn or other outbuildings.  Instead, he worked with his builder, Frank Shea. 

The barn was designed so that eight driving horses, a saddle horse and a pony named Cricket could comfortably fit.  There was even room for Hall’s business wagon, his wife’s phaeton, his son’s Irish donkey cart complete with an Irish donkey, and two more wagons.  Above the stables were apartments for the coachmen and grooms.  The cupola of the barn became a sort of playhouse for the youngest Hall children, Tom and Ellenor.  One story goes that the children wanted a better view from the cupola so they sawed a hole in the wall.  A few days later at lunch, Mr. Hall announced that he was going to inspect the farm.  Tom and Ellenor quickly excused themselves and ran to the cupola.  Their father was blissfully unaware that his two youngest were holding up the section of wall they had removed as he toured his property.  Unfortunately, their work was discovered by the foreman, who reprimanded them. Eventually, though, a playhouse was built.

Thomas Hall worked as a leather merchant.  During a merger with several other leather companies, he started work with Lewis Lapham.  Hall sold the property to Lapham in 1904, which he named Waveny after a river near the ancestral home of the Laphams in England.  The main house, despite it only being eighteen years old, was torn down in 1914 for the “castle” we are all now familiar with.  The carriage house was not replaced but it was remodeled in 1913 after the roof of the barn caught fire.  No one was injured and all the horses and carriages were saved.  The only casualties were some unused wedding presents belonging to Jack Lapham, the son of Lewis Lapham, and his wife.  When the roof was rebuilt,  the design was altered to vreate the roofline that exists today.  Sadly, though, during this work, a worker on the roof slipped and fell to his death.  Because fire remained a concern, in the 1960s Ruth Lapham Lloyd, the daughter of Lewis Lapham and the woman who gifted  Waveny to the town, purchased a fire engine that was kept in the basement of the barn.  Most of the fires on the property were caused by Ruth, who smoked and even set fire to her bedroom with a cigarette.  And despite having its own fire fighting equipment, the fire department had to be called when a fire started in the basement of the barn, which destroyed the engine stored there.  

After the 1913 fire, the interior of the barn was restructured so that there was an apartment for the coachman and later head chauffeur. The chauffeur was an avid gardener who kept a garden in the courtyard just outside his front door.  It was perhaps during this time that the Carriage Barn was used as a garage and the Lapham family’s electric car was stored there.  It is described as being “a delightful glass cage on wheels” that had a top speed of about 15 mph.  Antoinette, Lewis Lapham’s wife, frequently watched her son’s polo matches that were held on the estate from this electric car.  During World War II, the barn was used as the Civil Defense Headquarters for New Canaan. When the barn was being renovated in the 1970s equipment such as splints and stretchers were found from this time period.