Historic District Commission: Proposed Redevelopment of Former Red Cross Property Not Appropriate

Members of the appointed body that oversees New Canaan’s Historic District—roughly, 21 properties around and near God’s Acre—said last week that plans to redevelop the former Red Cross building property are not in line with the town’s guidelines for the area. Plans filed in May at 51 Main St. call for the ca. 1889 structure—long associated with its former owner, the Red Cross (developer Arnold Karp purchased it five years ago through a limited liability company)—to be moved closer to the road while building a multi-family residential structure with 20 apartments behind it, six of which would be rent-restricted as part of an 8-30g affordable housing application. The Historic District Commission during its Oct.

Objection Letter Filed on Husted Lane Demolition 

The town last week received a letter objecting to the demolition of a multifamily house on Husted Lane. According to a letter filed by email July 1 by New Canaan resident Mimi Findlay, the house at 8 Husted Lane is a “late Greek Revival style clapboard and filedstone home” that “retains many of its 6 over 6 antique windows and the entrance door with sidelights.”

“In the two earlier architectural surveys of downtown New Canaan (1987 and 2010), the house was said to have been built by ‘William Edson Husted, a shoe-cutter for whom the street is named,’ ” Findlay wrote (no citation). 

“However, the 1851 deed in vol. 10 page 337 indicates that W.E. Husted, along with his two brothers and a sister, inherited the house from their mother Jane and it was on a ‘certain parcel of land being the homestead which our father, Alfred Husted, now dead, formerly lived, in quantity one acre more or less with the buildings thereon,’ ” she continued (no citation). 

Under Section 12A-9 of the Town Code, if the Town Building Official “receives a pertinent written objection to the application within 15 days following publication of the [demolition] notice, then the Building Official shall promptly refer such objection to the Historical Review Committee.” 

The legal notice for demolishing 8 and 10 Husted Lane was published June 16 on NewCanaanite.com and appeared in the June 17 newsletter. Under the Code, the Historical Review Committee “shall review and decide all pertinent objections within 15 days of receipt of the objection by the Building Official. If the Committee fails to notify the Building Official of its decision within such fifteen-day period, or if the Committee makes a written finding that the structure is not of an age, style, condition or character that is of historical, architectural or cultural significance to the Town of New Canaan, then the Building Official shall issue the demolition permit, provided the time for filing objections has passed, and provided that all other requirements of the State Demolition Code have been satisfied.”

The Committee also may find that “that the structure is of historical, architectural or cultural significance” to the town, and delay demolition by up to 90 days.

Historic District Commission Approves Addition on Oenoke Lane

The volunteer panel that oversees New Canaan’s Historic District—the area around God’s Acre, generally speaking—last week voted 5-0 to approve a plan to build a mudroom and three-car garage onto an Oenoke Lane home. Just part of the 1962-built Colonial at 20 Oenoke Lane is located within the district, according to a map on the town website. As such, the Historic District Commission’s interest in the homeowner’s project is “focused on what you are doing on the east side of the house, where you are doing a major addition which is in District,” Commission Vice Chair Carl Rothbart said during the appointed body’s July 22 meeting, held via videoconference. “What you are adding at the bedrooms and back of the house really is beyond our purview,” he said. Darien-based architect Neil Tod Hauck, representing the homeowners, said a glass-enclosed mudroom would lead to the new two-story garage on the east side of the house, with a metal roof featuring three “doghouse” dormers and topped with a cupola.

Historical Society Plans To Install New Brick Walkways

The oldest historical society in Fairfield County is seeking permission from an appointed town body to install new brick walkways connecting buildings on its Oenoke Ridge campus with each other as well as a planned new terrace. The New Canaan Museum & Historical Society has applied to the Historic District Commission for permission to install a “brick pathway to connect the historic museums–the Rock School and the Hanford-Silliman house—with the existing path to the Rogers Studio.”

“There is also a 20-by-20-foot terrace at the top of the hill, which will have some benches for visitors to use,” according to the organization’s Feb. 22 application for a Certificate of Appropriateness. “The idea is to integrate the campus and provide a better outdoor experience. The plan was designed by Keith Simpson and will work visually with the approved terrace by the main building.”

The Commission is scheduled to take up the application at its regular meeting, scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday.

Commission Approves Sidewalk Extensions, Reconstruction Around God’s Acre

The volunteer group that oversees New Canaan’s Historic District last week approved three sidewalk projects that cross into the area of God’s Acre. The projects include new and reconstructed sidewalks on Main and Park Streets. 

One calls for a reconstructed sidewalk climbing the hill on the east side of God’s Acre from Heritage Hill Road all the way along Oenoke Ridge to Parade Hill Road, according to Tiger Mann, the town’s public works director. The other two effectively will create continuous sidewalk access for pedestrians coming up Park Street in front of the Congregational church and will wrap around the corner at Oenoke “in order to give sight lines and then there will be a crosswalk so that, in essence, you are getting right across the street to the district itself or to the Historical Society itself,” Mann told members of the Historic District Commission at their July 23 meeting, held via videoconference. 

Commissioner Pam Randon said, “It’s sorely needed.”

“It’s terrible, really bad,” she said. “You cannot even push a wheelchair on it now.”

Randon, Chair Tom Nissley, Secretary Carl Rothbart and Commissioners Marty Skrelunas and Todd Lampert voted 5-0 to approve the project. Under the town’s Historic District regulations, the appointed body’s approval is needed for such alterations. 

The sidewalks themselves in the district will be colored gray concrete, Mann said.