On the Market / New Canaan colonial at the center of town tradition
NEW CANAAN — Community caroling on Christmas Eve is an important New Canaan tradition. This harmonious custom began on God’s Acre in 1919, according to the town’s website, and has continued every year at least since then, making this year’s festive event the 100th annual gathering.
Hundreds of voices are raised in song around the town’s Christmas tree, a sight that could have sprung right from iconic American artist Norman Rockwell’s paint brush. This year’s caroling is set for Monday, Dec. 24, 6:30 p.m. on God’s Acre, defined as the historical geographical area which is the location of the Congregational Church of New Canaan. Also within walking distance are four other churches of varying denominations, and the New Canaan Historical Society.
The antique colonial house at 18 Main St. across from the Congregational Church in God’s Acre, has an even longer history than the carol sing. This historic landmark home, known as the Henry Rogers House, was built in 1860.
“This magnificent Colonial is magical in all seasons and especially during the holidays,” according to the listing agent. Its residents can walk across the street to the Congregational Church to add their voices to the community “choir” or they can sit on their own covered wrap-around porch to listen to their neighbors and fellow residents sing “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem,” “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World,” “Jingle Bells,” and other holiday favorites.
“When the (current) owners first bought this house over 20 years ago, they had a few people walk over for drinks after caroling. It has since grown and turned out to be a large dinner for over 100 people,” the agent said. And the next family to own this landmark can continue that tradition or create new traditions of their own.
The town’s annual Memorial Day parade route also passes right by this 5,200-square-foot house — its front porch making an ideal reviewing stand — or residents can sit on the fieldstone wall that borders the front of this level property of almost one acre.
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“Every year, the owners host a huge Memorial Day party on their front porch. It is a tradition,” the agent said.
There are other advantages to living in this location. The owners do not have to take their car to go into town to get coffee. They can take a short walk to local shops only blocks away, and they have an easy walk to the library, movie theater, restaurants, and the Metro-North train station.
According to the New Canaan Historical Society website, this house was once owned by Henry Rogers, who is credited with being among the founders of the local historical society. Mary Louise King, author of “Portrait of New Canaan, the History of a Connecticut Town,” wrote an article about this house for the historical society’s 1965 annual, and then in 1972 she compiled another five pages of notes about its history. Apparently, the Rev. William Cook, who was installed as rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Oenoke Ridge Road in 1859, was “unquestionably ... occupying No. 18 Main Street when the (1860) Census was taken.”
King’s notes indicate Rogers and his wife, Mary Louise Hoyt, moved into this house on Nov. 16, 1864. It remained in the Rogers family until September 1927. The second Mrs. Rogers, Edna, had her kindergarten in what is now the formal dining room of this house. And, according to King’s notes, a family member recalled time when “an elephant from a circus, playing at what was then the lot at the end of Husted Lane, got into the garden.” This property still contains attractive perennial flower gardens and a special organic vegetable garden.
ABOUT THIS HOUSE
STYLE: Updated antique colonial
ADDRESS: 18 Main Street
FEATURES: historic home, located in the town’s Historic District, easy walk to downtown New Canaan and the train station, 0.82-acre level property, covered wrap-around porch, deck, flowering perennial gardens, organic vegetable garden, Cable TV Conn, two fireplaces, thermal storm windows, rear stairs, wood roof, stone walls, four-zoned oil heat, detached two-car garage, ample parking, walk-up attic, full partially finished walk-out lower level, six bedrooms, three full and two half baths
SCHOOLS: South Elementary, Saxe Middle, New Canaan High School
MILL RATE: 16.96 mills
Another relative claims this house contained the town’s first bathroom “though it was somewhat makeshift since New Canaan had no water mains until the 1890s.” The house, in its current form, has three full and two half baths. The baths, as with the rest of the house, have been updated. The whole house has been lovingly restored and updated with meticulous attention to period detail. The historic charm was preserved even as the house was renovated to accommodate today’s modern life. Among its vintage features are its plaster walls and ceilings and the decorative railings on the front porch. Inside, the rooms are spacious and have nine-foot-tall ceilings.
Some of the rooms, like the formal living and dining rooms, have the character of a 19th-century home while others, like the great room — comprising the gourmet kitchen and family room — are more contemporary. The eat-in kitchen features a large center island with a breakfast bar for five, granite counters, a beverage refrigerator, and high-end appliances including two separate Wolf range tops. The family room features a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace and in the eat-in area there are French doors to a deck and another door to the porch. The power room features a tin roof.
There are 12 rooms in all on four finished levels, and six bedrooms, including a large master suite with a dressing room. The walk-out lower level has a separate entrance ideal for a home office.
This is a rare opportunity to own a piece of New Canaan history and save it for future generations.
For more information or to make an appointment to see the house contact Denise Gannalo of William Raveis Real Estate at 203-981-7927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.