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.

Objection Filed in Planned Demolition at St. Aloysius

New Canaan’s chief building official has received an objection to the planned demolition of a structure owned by St. Aloysius Catholic Church Corporation. 

Town resident Mimi Findlay said the building at 30 Maple St., on the church’s property at 57 South Ave., is a rectory and one of just two “Stick Style” buildings in central New Canaan. Findlay cited a 2012 “New Canaan Historic Resources Inventory” in her letter to Chief Building Official Platz: “Since 1958 this building has served as the convent for St. Aloysius parish. It was built by clothing salesman and New Canaan postmaster Philo A. Thatcher c.1885.

Letters Filed Objecting to Library’s Demolition Permit Application

The town’s chief building official last week received four letters of objection to a proposed demolition at New Canaan Library, according to emails obtained by through a public records request. Three of the objection letters lodged with Chief Building Official Brian Platz appear to assume (incorrectly) that the entire 1913 library building will be razed under the demo plan. In fact the demo itself—as reported here—includes a preservation plan for the legacy building as approved in December by the Planning & Zoning Commission. One of the letters, filed by New Canaan Preservation Alliance’s Mimi Findlay, objects to the “partial demolition of the 1913 library.”

“The original, historic 1913 building consists of a dominant gable-roofed front portion and a subordinate rear portion under a lower hip roof,” Findlay wrote in her letter, filed Friday. “The latter has had its back (west) wall altered for the later additions.

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 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.