Committee Votes 3-0 Against Imposing Demolition Delay at Weed and Elm

Saying a widely discussed ca. 1928-built house on the corner of Weed and Elm Streets fails to meet the criteria spelled out in a local ordinance, members of a town committee last week voted against imposing a 90-day demolition delay on the structure. 

The Historical Review Committee during a special meeting at Town Hall voted 3-0 to forgo imposing the demo delay at 751 Weed St., site of a planned 120-unit residential development. “My view after hearing what fellow commissioners have said, and my own view of this, is that I don’t see this as a particularly—it doesn’t seem to fit into any of the three categories of the ordinance that empowers this committee and sets forth specifically the criteria that we are supposed to consider,” Committee Chair Frederick Whitmer said during the June 29 meeting. 

He continued, “The first being that there’s some event that’s associated with the building. I don’t see that. Secondly, that it is somehow associated with someone of significance, either state, nationally or locally, to the property.

Objection Filed in Planned Demolition of Ca.-1928 House at Weed and Elm 

The town’s chief building official last week received a formal letter objecting to the proposed demolition of an approximately 95-year-old house that sits on a widely discussed lot at Weed and Elm Streets. The 10,000-square-foot home at 751 Weed St.—a 3.1-acre parcel where a 120-unit residential development is planned, under a state affordable housing statute—was built by an “an important resident in New Canaan,” according to Mimi Findlay’s letter. Selinger had been president of the New Canaan Historical Society and he “fund-raised to purchase the Hanford Silliman House to provide a new headquarters for the Historical Society and Library space for the books being housed at the Historical Society headquarters in the New Canaan Library,” according to Finidlay’s letter, filed June 14 with Chief Building Official Brian Platz. “Along with Judge Stanley Mead he then studied the buildings around the Church Hill area and proposed a Local Historic District be established there, serving as it first Chairman for several years,” Findlay’s letter continues. “He was followed by Richard Bergmann as Chair and noted in 1979, when the Bergmanns were leaving New Canaan to move to Florida, ‘Because of the excellent persuasive ability of Dick Bergmann, the Red Cross decided not to encase their vintage house in vinyl or aluminum, it Is now being painted.’ The history of the property was reknowned [sic] and respected, although Selinger demolished the existing Victorian residence, which had replaced the original 1781 house of Peter Weed.”

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.” 

It’s unclear whether or when the Committee will take up Findlay’s objection.

Committee Imposes 90-Day Delay on New Canaan Library’s Partial Demolition

An appointed town body on Monday voted 4-0 in favor of imposing a 90-day delay on the partial demolition of New Canaan Library. Members of the Historical Review Committee during a special meeting said that the original 1913 library meets criteria of local history and architecture as outlined in Section 12-10A of the Town Code. Citing a letter of objection to the library’s recent demo permit application that was filed by New Canaan resident Mimi Findlay, Committee Chair Mark Markiewicz said, “It’s very clear that the original 1913 building has a very compelling history, both socially in the town and architecturally.”

“It also seems like there’s a great potential to repurpose it, which would become a great cultural asset to New Canaan,” he added at the meeting, held in Town Hall and via videoconference. “To use its full footprint including the five rooms that originally were built, I think it offers a lot of opportunities for different events, whether it’s exhibits or music venues or whatever. And its central location is also important.