Historic Ferris Hill Home To Be Rented, Back on Market in ‘Several Years’

Now that the property has been safely transferred, volunteers spent several hours Tuesday afternoon cleaning up a historic farmhouse on Ferris Hill Road in order to make it rentable in the next couple of months. Tom Nissley, who holds title to the property with his wife, Emily, said his long-term goal is to sell the 1735-built house at 8 Ferris Hill Road, though it could be “several years” before it’s ready to go on the market again. “Somebody who loves history is going to have to buy the house,” Nissley said. “My theory is that everything sells. There is always a buyer for things, and there are a lot of people who are interested in history.”

That’s a major reason why the historic farmhouse still stands.

Saved: New Canaan Couple Enters Contract To Purchase Historic Ferris Hill Road Home

A New Canaan couple involved with historic preservation on Wednesday announced that it has entered into a contract to purchase the 1735-built farmhouse on Ferris Hill Road that had been slated for demolition this week. Emily and Tom Nissley “will hold the title while a preservation easement is placed on the property with the help of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation,” according to an email that Tom Nissley sent Wednesday to the local press corps. “It is anticipated that the house will be rented as soon as possible and will also be placed on the market for sale to a buyer who appreciates the historic value to the town of New Canaan,” Nissley said. The development marks a positive bookend to a very busy three months for preservationists, who quickly mobilized when the 2.14-acre property’s owner in March filed an application with the New Canaan Building Department to demolish the saltbox structure, following more than one year of unhappy ownership. That owner, Max Abel, joined in a petition Wednesday to the state Historic Preservation Office to have the home at 8 Ferris Hill Road listed on the State Register of Historic Places, according to Nissley.

Preservationists: We Will Purchase Antique Ferris Hill Road Home Slated for Demolition

The historic 1735-built Ferris Hill Road home slated for demolition June 1 will be spared because the group of preservationists that formed to save it will purchase the property with an eye on selling it on to a like-minded future owner, officials say. Between funds raised and a generous dollar-for-dollar pledge from a town resident, the 8 Ferris Hill Road Group has enough money now to enter into a contract with the widely discussed 2.14-acre property’s owner, according to New Canaan’s Tom Nissley. “The upshot is that the history of New Canaan is upheld with some integrity,” said Nissley, acting chairperson of the group. “It just would be wrong to eradicate that house and what it represents in the development of the town.”

On the radar of preservationists since it sold in November 2013 for $1,250,000, and a plan to develop the property soon emerged, the so-called “Hoyt-Burwell-Morse House” has been continuously occupied for 280 years, historians say. Its owner has said he regrets purchasing the property at all, believing that neighbors would back his idea of preserving the old house while building a new one.

Planned Demolition of Historic 1735-Built Home Pushed To End of May After Public Hearing

The historic home at 8 Ferris Hill Road will not be demolished until at least May 31, following a public hearing Thursday that saw a handful of residents speak passionately in favor of its preservation. Members of the Historical Review Committee voted 3-0 in favor of a 90-day delay (from the date of an application to demolish—in this case, March 2) after finding, as per the Town Code, that the 1735-built farmstead holds “historical, architectural or cultural significance” to New Canaan. The decision at the hearing—itself triggered by a formal letter of objection to the planned demolition— follows the mobilization and work of preservationists eager to spare what’s known as the Hoyt-Burwell-Morse House from the wrecking ball. It remains unclear whether the stay of demolition will garner a buyer for the home and 2.14-acre parcel, which appears to be the only viable alternative to its razing, despite the urging of planning officials to develop the property in a way that could allow for the antique’s preservation (more on that below). Max Abel, who identified himself as “the unlucky owner of this property”—drawing some laughter from the crowd of more than 50 attending the hearing, held in the Town House at the New Canaan Historical Society (the first location of New Canaan’s municipal government)—asked the committee to deny the 90-day delay.

‘A Terrible Loss for Our Town’: Formal Letter Filed Opposing Demo of Historic Home

Town officials on Wednesday received a letter objecting to the planned demolition of a historic home at 8 Ferris Hill Road, triggering a public hearing later this month on the divisive proposal. Asked for his thoughts following the formal objection, property owner Max Abel said in an email to NewCanaante.com: “I suggest all those who oppose the demolition to put their money where their mouth is and purchase this property.”

Abel has said he now regrets buying the 2.14-acre property and 1735-built home that sits on it, as he believed at the time of the purchase in November 2013 that his neighbors would want the house preserved while he developed the property. Abel went through multiple public hearings in the weeks and months that followed his acquisition of the property at 8 Ferris Hill Road (listed as 441 Canoe Hill Road in the assessor’s database) in an effort to find a way he could build a new house on the lot while preserving the original. Though neighbors objected to the building plans for the property, Abel rented out the home and continued to work with preservationists eager to save the antique. Two weeks ago, Abel filed an application to demolish the 2,378-square-foot home, triggering a flurry of activity from those preservationists, who formed a group of experts dedicated to it and put forward ideas about developing the property in a way that includes the house, launched a Facebook campaign to “Save 8 Ferris Hill” and held multiple meetings on the matter.