Judge Denies Temporary Injunction, ‘Brick Barn’ Demo To Commence

A state Superior Court judge on Tuesday denied a last-minute application for a temporary injunction on the demolition of a disused publicly owned building on the northern edge of Mead Park. Following a nearly yearlong effort led by the New Canaan Preservation Alliance to fix up and reuse the building, the “Mead Park Brick Barn” or “Richmond Hill Garage” could start to come down as soon as Thursday, town officials say. Town residents Andrea Sandor and Mimi Findlay on April 2 sued the town, Board of Selectmen and Town Council. In a self-filed complaint, the plaintiffs called the town’s plan to demolish the century-old structure—originally a fuel depot for Standard Oil—as “illegal.”

Specifically, the lawsuit said, the selectmen’s 2-1 vote last month to award contracts for the Barn’s demolition “was done in bad faith and without following due process of law” because the Sandor and Findlay don’t have time to file an application that would demonstrate a “conflict of interest” on the part of some officials with the New Canaan Board of Ethics. The lawsuit also faults the logic of the town, based on advice from legal counsel, that it cannot rescind its appropriation from last year of funds that will go toward the demolition of the building.

Police: Homeless Man Arrested After Living in ‘Mead Park Brick Barn’ for One Month

Police on Wednesday night arrested a 55-year-old homeless man who told them he’s been living in a widely discussed abandoned town-owned building on Richmond Hill Road for one month. At about 9:27 p.m. on March 13, officers were dispatched to the “Mead Park Brick Barn” on a report that someone was inside the building with a flashlight, according to a police. The 100-year-old structure is owned by the town and is to be demolished, as publicly noticed on a sign affixed to its exterior. The “Barn,” or “Richmond Hill Garage,” as some know it, is not open for public access, police said. Arriving, officers found all exterior doors to be secured and didn’t see any flashlights inside, the report said.

Op-Ed: Memories of a Winter Skating Scene

Happy Childhood memories of growing up in New Canaan. This is what comes through during interviews with two long-time residents of New Canaan on the topic of Mead Park and the little brick building perched on its northern border. 

So much controversy circles about this building that there is not even consensus about its name. Cassia Besson Ward said the official name in her memory was the Park Maintenance Building, but frequently refers to it as the “Brick House.” 

She grew up in the little grey house across the street and shared, most unexpectedly, this watercolor of a winter skating scene. Besson Ward said she has fond memories of growing up with Mead Park as her front yard, playing with her sister and other children in the streams, making houses out of pine needles behind the “Brick House” and even staging an amateur “Greek Pageant” in the park. 

Painted by her father, John Case Besson, the watercolor includes specific individuals from her childhood. Cassia and her sister are depicted with a sled, one riding, the other pulling.

‘Mead Park Brick Barn’: Preservationists Ask for Demolition Sign’s Removal; Selectmen Divided

The municipal body that by Town Charter would need to approve contracts related to the demolition of a widely discussed building at the northern edge of Mead Park remains divided about whether or not to support a nonprofit organization’s efforts to restore it. During their regular meeting last week, members of the Board of Selectmen heard from two members of the New Canaan Preservation Alliance. The organization is requesting that the ‘Notice of Demolition’ sign be removed from the  ‘Mead Park Brick Barn,’ to be allowed to spruce up the abandoned Richmond Hill Road (with some outdoor cleanup and a wreath) and to get feedback on a proposed lease agreement. 

Yet at the close of the Dec. 4 meeting, when Selectman Kit Devereaux asked for information on where the town stands with respect to the NCPA, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said that the organization cannot make a request of the selectmen through a meeting’s public comment period. Selectman Nick Williams called the NCPA’s offer “generous.”

“I don’t think it has any bearing on demo or not demoing,” Williams said at the meeting, held in Town Hall.