Janet Lindstrom To Retire After 34 Years with New Canaan Historical Society

The New Canaan Historical Society announced Tuesday that Executive Director Janet Lindstrom will retire after 34 years with the nonprofit organization. The longtime town resident began her career at the Historical Society as a volunteer and joined its Board of Governors in 1981, according to a press release. “Telling the story of our town has been a great honor,” Lindstrom said in the press release. “I’ve played a special part of the society’s 127-year continuum, preserving the history of this exceptional place and helping generations of people to explore what makes our community so special.”

Mark Markiewicz, board president, confirmed with NewCanaanite.com that Lindstrom will remain in her role until a successor starts. Founded in 1889, the Historical Society keeps an active research library on the town, runs exhibitions out of The Town House at 13 Oenoke Ridge Road, where a meeting room is named after Lindstrom, publishes historical newsletters and pamphlets, holds educational tours and exhibitions and owns a handful of historic buildings in town.

‘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.

‘One of the Last Remaining Artifacts of New Canaan’: Preservationists Explore Ways To Save Historic Ferris Hill Road Home

Mobilized by the very real possibility that a historic Ferris Hill Road home will be razed, local preservationists and other experts are working with its owner and touting the 2.14-acre property’s potential for types of development that would still save the antique structure. A demolition sign went up Wednesday at 8 Ferris Hill Road (listed as 441 Canoe Hill Road in the assessor’s database), one week after its owner applied for a permit to raze the 1735-built home. Now is a critical time for preservation advocates, before a 15-day window to object to the demolition runs out and a decision likely is left with a municipal committee. Though the home’s owner could not be reached for comment, he has said that demolition appears to be the only possible way to develop the property he now regrets purchasing more than two years ago. Yet one local expert, Robert Dean of New Canaan-based Robert Dean Architects, a firm that’s been practicing here for 30 years, said there are three basic ways that emerged when it comes to preserving an antique structure such as this in the face of development: Move it, sustain it in place and build around it, or sustain it in place and add onto it (more on those options below).

‘We Hope That There May Still Be a Happy Resolution’: Application To Demolish Filed for Historic New Canaan Home

Town officials on Wednesday received an application to demolish a Ferris Hill Road home that experts call one of New Canaan’s most historic structures—a development that follows years-long and wide-ranging efforts by its owner and preservationists to save it. The wood-shingled, 1735-built antique home at 8 Ferris Hill Road (or 441 Canoe Hill Road, according to the assessor, same property) sits in the southwestern corner of a 2.14-acre lot, up against the roadway, as is typical of the era. Town resident and builder Max Abel acquired the property in November 2013 for $1,250,000 with the thought of building a second home on the lot. It’s a purchase he said that he now regrets “because I held this naïveté that any plan that I would come up with that would include preserving the old house would be very welcome by all the people of the town, including all the neighbors.”

“And I didn’t see a possibility of anybody objecting to a plan—I could see more demands on how to make a [proposed new] house look more similar [to the antique], or have a garden between [the old and proposed new] houses to connect them, but never envisioned an objection by neighbors.”

The month after he purchased the property, Abel filed an application with the Planning & Zoning Commission for a special permit that would allow the antique home to remain as an accessory structure so that he could build a new house on the property (the combined square footage would go over coverage). Though Abel worked with preservationists and made some concessions in his development plan, several neighbors objected to its specifics, citing safety and aesthetic concerns, and in some cases requesting that P&Z impose requirements regarding the preservation of the antique (thought to have housed Connecticut’s last slave—more on that below), according to P&Z meeting minutes from January and February 2014.

New Sign to Spotlight Expansive Historical Society Campus

A new sign soon will grace the front lawn of the New Canaan Historical Society, welcoming motorists and pedestrians traveling along Oenoke there at the top of God’s Acre, as the venerable organization marks its 125th birthday this year. To be set about four or five feet behind the stone wall, between a pair of maple trees fronting Oenoke Ridge Road, the sign will appear to stand at 4.5 feet from the street-side vantage point. Executive Director Janet Lindstrom said during Thursday’s meeting of the Historic District Commission that a sign had stood in that area several years ago and was not replaced after it was vandalized. The sign’s deliberate placement and purpose is to inform passersby that the Historical Society is not a single structure (The Town House beside St. Michael’s also has a sign next to the organization’s driveway) but several on a substantial campus.