New Canaan Now & Then: Miss Ayres School

‘New Canaan Now & Then’ is sponsored by Brown Harris Stevens Realtors Joanne Santulli, Karen Ceraso, Bettina Hegel and Schuyler Morris. The house at 119 Seminary Street (some list it as 115) was once the New Canaan Institute or “Miss Ayres School,” established in 1873 by Harriet Ayres. 

According to a 1938 letter from former student W. Benedict, Miss Ayres School supported 25 to 35 students. She established the school because she found the 19th century public school inadequate to prepare students for college. Miss Ayres’ husband, Edward F. Ayres, died in 1900 and her eldest son, Edward, attended Yale where he won the sophomore prize in mathematics in 1886. 

One of her students, Percy Raymond, became a Harvard professor emeritus of paleontology and praised Miss Ayres as “the best teacher I have ever encountered.” An Advertiser article dated May 22, 1952 stated “she worshiped at the altar of culture and was responsible for several New Canaan boys who sought higher education and gave a pretty good accounting of themselves later in life.” In 1899 she retired from teaching after 30 years. 

She was the first president of the New Canaan Women’s Club—“thirty five brave progressive souls” who had their first meeting at No. 4 Railroad Avenue—present-day Elm Street—at the Reading Room on Sept.

New Canaan Now & Then: The Joseph Weber Jr. Homestead

‘New Canaan Now & Then’ is sponsored by Brown Harris Stevens Realtors Joanne Santulli, Karen Ceraso, Bettina Hegel and Schuyler Morris. The Greek Revival Style home at 585 Old Stamford Road known as the Joseph Weber Jr. Homestead has been the residence for some of New Canaan’s earliest families. 

The original parcel of land was deeded to Joseph Smith from Seymour Talmadge. Joseph Smith was the son of “Tory Joe” Smith who had lost the family holdings during the Revolution. His new wife, Mary Talmadge, was the daughter of Joseph Talmadge of Flat Ridge. The Smith brothers expanded in this area -James the eldest remained in the family home; Minot had a house on Talmadge Hill; and Sherman built the home in 1840 for his new wife, Mary Elizabeth Hoyt. 

The property included a three-story cow barn which bears the architectural markings of a structure built in the 1700s, including wooden pegs/nails and “triple marks” on the beams. At one time, there were four barns on the property as indicated in the 1956 subdivision map. 

The New Canaan tax books in 1858 set the value of the home at $1600.

New Canaan Now & Then: Emma J. Bradley Burt Brown Kull

“New Canaan Now & Then” is presented in partnership with the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society. In honor of Women’s History Month, this week’s article focuses on Emma J. Bradley Burt Brown Kull, a local businesswoman who lived at 110 Forest Street. 

Ms. Emma Josphine Hubbard was born in Walcott, Connecticut. Miss. Kull, or as she was known at the time, Mrs. Emma J. Bradley, opened the Daylight Bakery in the Oddfellows building (86-90 Main Street) in April of 1911. The bakery also served as a quasi-general store where she kept her wallpaper books for her customers’ use.  Her son, Charles Bradley drove the delivery wagon for the bakery. 

The business was applauded for its cozy cheerful atmosphere.

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?