Despite a town committee’s recommendation that the structure be re-used in some way, New Canaan Country School plans to demolish a large barn on its Frogtown Road campus, officials say. The red-painted barn and adjacent row of smaller sheds are to be razed to make way for a new pool and pool house, school officials have said. The private school applied Aug. 1 for a demolition permit. After the town received a formal letter of objection, the New Canaan Historical Review Committee voted unanimously to impose a 90-day delay, its members saying they hoped the 4,500-square-foot barn could be re-used—for example, as part of the new pool house.
Saying a barn on New Canaan Country School property has architectural and historical significance, a town resident has filed a formal objection to its proposed demolition.
The private school on Aug. 1 applied to the New Canaan Building Department to demolish the estimated 4,500-square-foot, ca. 1870-built red barn, records show. Citing Mary Louise King’s history “A Portrait of New Canaan,” Mimi Findlay, a founder of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, said the barn once was part of William Davenport’s farm. “King relates that the farm was purchased from foreclosure by the the New Canaan Savings Bank at the end of the century by the Grace Church in NYC,” Findlay wrote in her objection letter, filed Wednesday with the chief building official.
The Board of Selectmen voted 2-1 Tuesday to solicit proposals from those interested in acquiring a prominent antique building on Main Street from the town. The request for proposals for Vine Cottage, a turreted ca.-1859 structure located opposite the firehouse, would allow for a sale or ground lease to a prospective buyer. Among other requirements, the Town Council would need to hold a public hearing prior to any sale. Though Selectman Kit Devereaux voted against issuing the RFP, saying it was short-sighted since no one knows what New Canaan’s future needs for such a building would be, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan and Selectman Nick Williams voted in favor of it. Williams noted that the New Canaan Department of Human Services is leaving Vine Cottage for the former Outback Teen Center.
Saying a nonprofit group’s effort in planning for the restoration of the Mead Park Brick Barn warrants a stay of execution, the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday decided to forgo voting on contracts to demolish the long-vacant Richmond Hill Road structure.
Now that the New Canaan Preservation Alliance has poured resources into developing architectural plans for the Brick Barn and identified viable funding sources so that its restoration and maintenance can be privately funded, the Town Council should “weigh in on this,” Selectman Nick Williams said during a regular Board meeting, held at Town Hall. “You cannot recapture history, so I would like to send it back to the Town Council, and that is two weeks from now, and there will be a resolution within the next few weeks one way or the other, and I am committed to that,” Williams said. He referred to the Council’s Feb. 27 meeting, saying that if the legislative body again votes to demolish the Brick Barn, “I would be inclined to go along with that.”
Williams and Selectman Kit Devereaux voted 2-0 to postpone the Board’s decision on the demolition contracts until fresh direction is had from the Town Council. First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, long a proponent for demolishing the building, abstained from voting on the motion.
Days after New Canaan’s highest elected official dismissed a bid to preserve a long-vacant town-owned structure on Richmond Hill Road, a resident seeking to stave off demolition has filed a formal objection to that end. Mimi Findlay, a founder of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance, in a letter filed with the town’s chief building official, reviews the history of the “Mead Park Brick Barn” and makes a case for its historical and architectural significance.
Under the Town Code, the volunteer Historical Review Committee will study the matter and, if that panel finds that the structure “is of historical, architectural or cultural significance to the Town of New Canaan,” it can force a 90-day delay on the demolition from the date of the demo permit application.
First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that application went into the town last week.
The question of whether to demolish the building has come before the town in the past, and has stirred high emotion on both sides. The question of whether to demolish the Mead Park Brick Barn—or “Richmond Hill Garage,” as it has been called—has divided the town for many years. Though the town did vote in favor of razing the building—records show that demolition permits had been issued in April 2009 and August 2010—doing so proved to be cost-prohibitive due to the need for asbestos and lead paint remediation, sending the estimated cost of demolition to about $400,000. Then a new, far smaller figure of $65,000 emerged during last budget season.