Moynihan: Vine Cottage Worth Three Times What Land Trust Bid

The town rejected a venerable nonprofit organization’s recent bid to purchase Vine Cottage because the building is worth more money than what was offered, according to First Selectman Kevin Moynihan. The Board of Selectmen met out of the public eye—as public bodies are allowed to do, under state law, when dealing with certain specific aspects of real estate transactions—to “decide whether we should negotiate with the [New Canaan] Land Trust,” Moynihan said during the Town Council’s regular meeting Tuesday. “We have an indication that the value of that property is three times what was being offered by the Land Trust,” Moynihan said during the meeting, held at Town Hall and via videoconference. “If we get to the point where we want to sort of give it away to a nonprofit, an important local nonprofit, we could. But right now, for one we really need it for the Health Department.

New Canaan Now & Then: Vine Cottage

According to Mary Louise King, 61 Main Street, or “Vine Cottage” was probably built in 1859 by the Sea Captain Sereno Ogden. 

Its history began with Edward Nash, a silversmith who came to New Canaan in 1809 and lived where Town Hall is today. Nash partnered with Stephen Hoyt, Jr. in Hoyt & Nash, the general store at the corner of Main Street and East Avenue. When Nash died in 1836, his homestead extended from Morse Court to the Red Cross building.  His daughter Hannah Nash inherited most of this property. When she died, she left the property to her young son Edward, but it was in the control of his guardian, her husband, Sereno Ogden.  

Mary Louise King speculates that Vine Cottage was built by Ogden for Albert Comstock, who ran a men’s clothing business, and his wife, Cornelia Carter.  Cornelia Carter Comstock was the founder of the Hannah Benedict Carter chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (it is named for her mother), and Albert Comstock was a founder of the Historical Society in 1889. The architectural changes, including Gothic additions and a front porch, were probably done in the 1860s by the Comstocks.  They sold the house with one acre to Stephen Pardee in 1871 for $4,500. “New Canaan Now & Then” is presented in partnership with the New Canaan Museum & Historical Society.

Letter: New Canaan Land Trust’s Bid To Purchase Vine Cottage

We wanted to let the public know that the New Canaan Land Trust submitted a bid on December 2, 2021 to purchase Vine Cottage.  While our bid has been declined, Land Trust’s Board of Directors thought it’d be helpful to outline the reasons why we believe our offer makes tremendous sense for the town of New Canaan and its residents. In developing our proposal, we began with the guiding principle that preservation of Vine Cottage, a historic treasure of New Canaan, is essential to the town and many of its residents. We believe that the Land Trust can play an important and unique role in protecting this local landmark. By way of background, historical preservation is part of the Land Trust’s DNA. While the Land Trust is best known for conserving open space, preservation of historic sites has been part of our mission from the start.

First Selectman: ‘It May Be We Are Going To Retain Vine Cottage for the Health Department’

After seeking a prospective buyer for the building twice in the last three years, New Canaan’s highest elected official said last week that the town may keep a ca.-1859 building that long has formed part of the Town Hall campus. The town first issued a request for proposals from potential buyers of Vine Cottage in June 2019. Two years later, in August 2021, First Selectman Kevin Moynihan said the town had terminated its negotiations with a developer interested in the property and would reissue the RFP. The Board of Selectmen approved the issuance of the RFP the following month, but it has since closed, officials said during the selectmen’s Feb. 22 meeting.