Two historic structures in New Canaan have generated very different responses from the town government, with one being actively sought for municipal purchase and another being pursued by a nonprofit seeking to prevent its demolition.
First, the purchase story: The town has offered to buy the Grupe-Nichols-Brown House, a colonial-era residence at 1124 Valley Road, from the Norwalk First Taxing District for $250,000. The home, which sits on a 0.83-acre parcel within a 4.43-acre property, straddles the district’s Grupes Reservoir and property owned by the New Canaan Land Trust.
The district, which purchased the property in February 2006 for $2.25 million, sought a demolition permit for the house earlier this year, then withdrew the request and offered to sell the property to the town for $900,000, but that was rejected. The house, which does not carry any official historic registry status, offers 3,200 square feet of living area that includes four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and it is not certain what New Canaan would do with the structure if it were purchased.
Elsewhere in New Canaan, a nonprofit is seeking to acquire another historic site that the town wants to raze. The New Canaan Preservation Alliance is leading an effort to purchase and restore the Standard Oil Co. Carriage Barn, more commonly known locally as the Mead Park Brick Barn. Located at 64 Richmond Hill, that structure is a brick barn built in 1901 that originally served as a Standard Oil kerosene depot serving the then-rural New Canaan area. The Standard Oil Co. Carriage Barn has been vacant since 1998 and was added to the Connecticut Registry of Historic Places in 2010; an effort is underway to add the building to the National Register of Historic Places.
The alliance has established an online site to build public support for the building’s preservation, with requests for monetary donations and a petition campaign to sway the town’s leaders to change their minds over the structure’s fate. “Adaptive reuse of historic buildings is the ultimate environmentally responsible practice,” said the group on its website.