“The people in this place have agreed, many of them, to set up a library and are collecting money to make a small purchase of books.” —from a Jan. 16, 1790 letter from the Rev. Justus Mitchell of New Canaan to Roger Sherman, his wife’s uncle
Perhaps no commercial enterprise in New Canaan has garnered as much attention in recent months as the Roger Sherman Inn. For good reason. Since hitting the market at $6 million three summers ago, the Oenoke Ridge Road restaurant and inn has been the subject of wide speculation. After lingering on the market for years, a well-known developer materialized last fall as the property’s “contract purchaser,” with a plan to create eight (later modified to six) homes on a 1.8-acre property that, as-of-right, would have just one.
The photos from our gallery this week are from a party honoring town resident Dick DePatie after 19 years as parish administrator at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Congratulations to Dick and the DePaties! The March 17 ‘DePatie DeParty’ in Morrill Hall featured musical numbers, including from a ukulele band. ***
Officer Allyson Halm of the New Canaan Police Department’s Animal Control section this week will begin making door-to-door visits to residents who have been unresponsive to calls to renew their dogs’ licenses.
Bravo, and our thanks, to Jim Bach for once again giving us a most interesting talk at the Historical Society on another chapter in New Canaan’s history. His recent talk gave me the idea that perhaps someday, with appropriate lead time, the New Canaan Historical Society’s book “Portrait of New Canaan” by Mary Louise King, might become one of the chosen volumes for the library’s One Book New Canaan program. Used on Amazon, the King book sells for around $48 a copy so it might need re-publishing, which could help the Historical Society. It could also generate further knowledge and interest in the town’s history generally which is really much more fascinating than another novel about a small town. After all who would have guessed that the town did not even start recording its births, marriages, deaths and land transactions until over 50 years after its 1801 incorporation, or that it was, at one time, famous for its wild horses which were rounded up and driven overland to ports as far away as Rhode Island to be shipped to the West Indies, or that striking, protesting New Canaan workers of the Cordwainers’ Protective Union once noisily marched down Church Hill onto Main Street, holding the leather hides and the tools of their trade on-high demanding higher wages, or that the town’s first selectman was once a very left-wing Locofoco Democrat, and because the town could not give a majority to any one candidate for the state legislature, it went unrepresented at all in Hartford for four years, or that, way back in history, people started printing currency for themselves in their own homes until they were reported and then …
The remains of a prominent New Canaan man who died 181 years ago have been found in a previously unsuspected area of the Merritt Apartments property, officials said Thursday. Long ignored and historically important, the ‘Maple Street Cemetery’ was thrust into a spotlight this summer when Merritt’s owners unveiled a dramatic plan to raze the apartment buildings there and build four new ones. Advocates for historic preservation quickly organized, citing state laws that govern burial grounds and calling for a comprehensive study of Maple Street Cemetery itself. When the Planning & Zoning Commission finally approved 110 units for the proposed ‘Merritt Village’ last week, it included conditions designed to protect the cemetery. One of those called for property owner M2 Partners LLC to “conduct further testing” under the state archeologist “to verify that there have been no burials” (as the office of the New Canaan town attorney had asserted) in an area of the cemetery that M2 owned.
Caroling at God’s Acre for Christmas is one of New Canaan’s most cherished events of the year, a nostalgic, Rockwellian gathering that brings the community together unlike any other celebration. New Canaan First Selectman Rob Mallozzi called it a “sacred and treasured New Canaan tradition.” “It’s something that distinguishes New Canaan and its citizens above all the other towns around us,” he told NewCanaanite.com. Held on the plot of land above which the Congregational Church was built—the institution upon which the town was founded, the caroling sees scores of New Canaanites descend each year on what literally is hallowed ground, as it is believed many of New Canaan’s settlers are still buried at God’s Acre. But how did it start, and when?