New Canaan has received a proposal to convert Irwin House—originally the country home of IBM founder Thomas Watson, Sr.—into a museum dedicated to the iconic company, town officials confirmed Thursday. During the “Forum on Public Buildings,” Town Council Chairman John Engel—a panelist at the 2.5-hour event—cautioned that New Canaanites “can’t get ahead of ourselves on this.”
“There are a couple of things [to understand]: That is not the only proposal that’s out there, but it is the only proposal for Irwin [House]. I expect that we’re going to be getting proposals from lots of people. The first one came when a member of the Watsons and IBM approached the [New Canaan] Historical Society and said, ‘Is this possible?’ And when they asked Town Hall, Town Hall said, ‘We want to hear all proposals.’ And they said, ‘Great, can we walk the building with the IBM-Watson people to see if it’s even a fit?’ And that’s about as far as it [has gone].”
The comments came in response to an audience question at the forum, sponsored by the New Canaan Historical Society, New Canaan Preservation Alliance, Town of New Canaan and NewCanaanite.com. Designed to give residents information about many of the town-owned buildings whose future uses and ownership are in question, and to open up lines of communication between taxpayers and both elected and appointed decision-makers, it featured a panel that included Engel, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan, Town Council members Penny Young and Cristina A. Ross, and Board of Finance member Amy Murphy Carroll.