New Canaan Now & Then: Ponus Ridge Chapel

The history of the Ponus Ridge Chapel begins in 1902 when a group from the Ponus Ridge area began to hold church services and a Sunday school in a butcher shop on Davenport Ridge.  

In 1907, the group formally organized as the Ponus Street Union Chapel, a non-denominational Christian group.  In their first meeting, a building committee was created to find land and build a dedicated meeting space.  Both Levi S. Weed and Charles E. Hubbell sold a part of their land to the committee for $1.  In total the parcel was 25′ by 100′.  The chapel itself was designed by Charles E. Hubbell and Charles A. Luckhurst both Ponus Ridge residents and architects.  The stone came from local farms, predominantly from the Thurton farm across the street.  

Two hundred people attended the chapel dedication on September 10, 1911.  It quickly became the center of the community for the area. Six weddings and a funeral were held in the chapel in its first forty years. Many local fairs were hosted from the chapel.  One such fair was centered around the dedication of a bell for the chapel.   Edward Lawerence married Fanny Davenport and so to replace the “belle” that he was taking from the ridge, he gave the chapel a bell in return.  During WWI, the chapel was used by the Ladies’ Aid Society for what is described as “Red Cross work.”  This group of women is most likely the group depicted in the picture above. By the 1930s, activities in the chapel had slowed down.

Podcast: Restoring the Ponus Ridge Chapel

This week on 0684-Radi0, our free weekly podcast (subscribe here in the iTunes Store), we talk to Ainsley and Brendan Hayes, new owners of the ca. 1911-built and previously neglected Ponus Ridge Chapel, and Ted Sihpol of Renaissance Partners LLC, general contractor on the closely followed job of restoring it. If you have a memory of the Chapel to share, please send it to Ainsley Hayes at Here are a few photos of the Chapel:

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Christine Saxe and Associates, New Canaan resident specialist ranked as one of America’s Best Real Estate Professionals by Real Trends. View her fine collection of New Canaan homes for sale at

Historic Preservation: New Canaan Family’s ‘Ponus Ridge Chapel’ Project Underway

A closely followed historic preservation project is underway on Ponus Ridge. 

The new owners of the “Ponus Ridge Chapel,” a 1911-built structure located a few hundred feet north of Davenport Ridge Road, have had the interior of the long-neglected building cleaned and its main floor replaced. Once a community hub that functioned as gathering place for important events—church services, Sunday School, group dinners, fairs, christenings, weddings, holiday parties, meetings and the very first Walter Schalk dance classes—the Chapel hasn’t been used in some 50 years, according to town records. In December, after clearing legal hurdles that had dragged on for years, the Chapel’s next-door neighbors Brendan and Ainsley Hayes—owners of their own antique house—finally acquired the property and immediately set about a restoration project that local preservationists long have supported. After taking ownership of the property, they found a “ton of rot inside” the Chapel, Brendan Hayes told when asked for an update. “The wood was all rotted and destroyed, including the framing, so that was fixed,” he said.

‘We Are Excited’: Long-Neglected Ponus Ridge Chapel To Be Restored

After years of disuse that dragged on due to bitter legal disputes, a neglected and deteriorating former chapel and community center on Ponus Ridge now is poised to be restored in a way that historic preservationists in New Canaan long have supported. The historic Ponus Ridge Chapel stands to be transferred from a dormant association to a neighboring property owner, clearing the way for its protection and eventual conversion into a privately owned structure that will be opened periodically to the wider community. “We are really happy about it,” said Brendan Hayes, next-door neighbor and soon-to-be owner of the Chapel property along with his wife, Ainsley, told “Restoring historic properties is one of the things we feel strongly about, so we are excited to be able to start this project—it is long overdue.” Once a community hub that functioned as gathering place for important community events—church services, Sunday School, group dinners, fairs, christenings, weddings, a funeral, dancing and art classes, holiday parties and meetings of the Ladies’ Aid Society, Farm Bureau and Fish and Game League—the Chapel hasn’t been used in some 50 years, according to town records. 

Since 1959, the ca.

Did You Hear … ?

One of the men brought up on misdemeanor charges by New York City police for climbing the Brooklyn Bridge in order to get a nice photo of Manhattan at sunrise Saturday was a 24-year-old New Canaanite, the New York Post reports. ***

Some of the New Canaan High School students who attended the boys varsity lacrosse game Saturday versus rival Darien misbehaved to the point where the principal of NCHS sent a letter that went to the wider school community to address the problem. The letter references “a number of incidents at the game” including alcohol consumption and profanity. It continues: “Consuming or possessing alcohol, threatening or harassing others, acting disrespectfully, and/or any behaviors that would not be tolerated in school will not be permitted at these contests. If it is witnessed, students will be removed from the game and may face significant disciplinary action in school, up to and including suspension.