NCM&HS Launches ‘Little Free Library’ for the Community

There’s free books on Oenoke Ridge. This month, the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society set up a “Little Free Library” next to a bench out front of the 1825 Town House on campus at the top of God’s Acre. “It’s a national organization where you buy the box and you fill it with your books,” NCM&HS Executive Director Nancy Geary told “And the idea is that people can come and take a book. They can either read it and return it, or they can take it and keep it.”

The organization launched its “library”—a red box on a post that resembles a bird feeder—thanks to the generosity of New Canaan’s Branch family.

Organization Seeks Changes to ‘Gores Pavilion’ Agreement with Town

A venerable nonprofit organization is seeking changes to its lease with the town regarding an historic building located in a public park. The New Canaan Museum & Historical Society has proposed changes to its lease agreement for Gores Pavilion, an iconic structure in Irwin Park, including that “exterior painting” be added to a list of repairs that NCM&HS can request town funds for, according to documents obtained by through a public records request. 

Painting had been in the existing 2007 agreement as the sole responsibility of NCM&HS, but under the proposed change, the responsibility for the cost of exterior painting would be incurred by the town while interior painting remains the responsibility of the nonprofit organization. The drafted revisions appeared to have been submitted to the town in January by NCM&HS Executive Director Nancy Geary, though no action has yet been taken, according to Selectman Nick Williams.

During the July 11 Board of Selectmen meeting, Williams mentioned to First Selectmen Kevin Moynihan that he had been contacted by Historical Society officials asking for an update. “The Historical Society, I guess there was a request from Nancy to make some minor modifications to the Irwin agreement,” Williams said at the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “The Gores Pavilion agreement.

‘An Enormous Addition to the Town’: New Canaan Museum & Historical Society Unveils Plan for ‘Special Collections Museum’ with Reassembled Millar Studio

Representatives of the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society last week unveiled plans for a striking new barn-like structure at their Oenoke Ridge campus. The glass-enclosed “Special Collections Museum” will have attached at its rear one of the last–if not the very last—original art studio of a founding member of the Silvermine art colony, according to Nancy Geary, executive director of the NCM&HS. 

Addison Millar’s lean-to-like painting studio—which remains in place on Mill Road more than a century after the artist himself, and his wife, were killed in a railcar accident (1913)—has been generously donated to NCM&HS by the Borglum family, Geary told members of the Planning & Zoning Commission during their March 28 regular meeting. “It is a very rustic building,” Geary said during an approximately 30-minute pre-application presentation to P&Z during its meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “It uses the bark from the mills at the turn of the century when it was built. And we have a plan to disassemble it and rebuild it, and it will be partly enclosed and partly attached to this new building. It will give us space also to have permanently on display rotating paintings by the Silvermine artists.

Sneak Peek: ‘Forces of Change—Enslaved and Free Blacks in New Canaan’ Opens Friday at NCM&HS

A new exhibition two years in the making, “Forces of Change: Enslaved and Free Blacks in New Canaan,” opens Friday, March 3 at the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society at 13 Oenoke Ridge. We met with the organization’s executive director, Nancy Geary, to get some background and an overview of the widely anticipated exhibition. 

Here’s a transcript of our interview:

New Canaanite: Give us an overview of the exhibition. 

Nancy Geary: The exhibition has had a number of titles. It’s now called ‘Forces of Change: Enslaved and Free Blacks in New Canaan.’ And starting when Canaan Parish had slaves, it tracks the life and work of Black residents in New Canaan. It will include documents from the early-1700s through to Stand Together Against Racism’s protest following the murder of George Floyd. What is the origin of the exhibition?