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History of the Carriage Barn Arts Center

“The Carriage Barn” written by Charlotte Engel, New Canaan High School Intern, 2015

The Waveny Carriage Barn was constructed in the late 1890’s after Thomas W. Hall purchased “Fairview Farm” and renamed his property “Prospect Farm.” This became his family’s full-time residence. Hall commissioned the construction of the Barn to hold his business wagon, his wife’s Phaeton carriage, and his son’s Irish Donkey Cart. The barn also had stalls for eight driving horses, a saddle horse, and a pony. In the original building, a second floor also included apartments for coachmen and grooms. The youngest Hall children played in the barn’s cupola often.

The property was purchased by Lewis Lapham in 1904, who renamed the farm “Waveny,” after the Waveny River in England where his ancestors once lived.

The upper portion of the barn burned down in 1913, where only the horses and carriages were saved. Much of the valuable material in the loft of the barn was lost, including the Lapham’s furniture and Jack Lapham’s wedding presents. A new stable was built on the old foundation and was later converted into a garage, containing an apartment for the coachman and then the head chauffeur. The hayloft from the original structure was not rebuilt, and the chauffeur lived in the barn until the time it was sold to the town.

Mrs. Ruth Lapham Lloyd sold and donated Waveny and its 300 acres to the town in 1967. The town currently uses Waveny and the surrounding 50 acres as a public park, and the Carriage Barn is used by the New Canaan Society for the Arts as a public art gallery. 

“New Canaan Society for the Arts”

The New Canaan Society for the Arts (NCSA) is a non-profit, community culture organization. Founded in 1895 by a group of art-lovers and artists, the society vanished until 1977 when it was rediscovered by Mrs. Jan Fenton, who found an old sign in her attic, proclaiming “N.C. Art Show”, which could be traced back to 1902. The New Canaan Society for the Arts hoped to rehabilitate the carriage houses and gardeners cottages into arts centers for the town.

Previous restorations for the Carriage Barn had been done on a volunteer basis, however, the town realized that what needed to be done to fully restore the building exceeded their budget. In order to fund their efforts, the Society for the Arts needed to raise the money themselves. In 1977, the Society for the Arts recruited volunteers to renovate the site of their proposed art center, the Carriage Barn. The volunteer work was supervised by carpenter Clifford Webb, who oversaw renovations for the Carriage Barn and the Powerhouse Theatre.

The work was completed that same year and the first Annual Member’s Show was held in June 1977. The New Canaan Society for the Arts, a not for profit, member-run organizaiton, now currently operates the Carriage Barn Arts Center and holds a number of art exhibitions and performances annually.

For more information about the history of the Waveny House and the Lapham family, please follow this link: http://nchistory.org



Carriage Barn/ Waveny:
1878-1895- Christ Family owns “Fairview Farm” on portion of “Waveny”


A stone Carriage Barn is erected by Thomas W. Hall on his 175-acre “Prospect Farm” to house his business wagon, his wife’s Phaeton, and his son’s donkey cart.

1895- Thomas Hall purchases numerous properties. Names it “Prospect Farm.”

1896- Waveny Castle is completed

1904- Hall sells to Lewis H. Lapham, Lapham renames the property “Waveny.”

1912- The Groundbreaking for Waveny (April 11th)

1913- Fire destroys the top floor of the Carriage Barn. It is rebuilt to it’s current structure.

1914- Waveny House is completed

1967- Lewis H. Lapham’s daughter, Ruth Lapham Lloyd, sells Waveny estate to the town of New Canaan to use as a park

1977- The Town grants permission to the New Canaan Society for the Arts for the Carriage Barn to be renovated and used as an art gallery.

1977 (June)- First Annual Member’s Show at the Carriage Barn Arts Center

What was going on in the world:
1896- First international Olympic games in the modern era, held in Greece





1903- Wright Brothers’ first flight at Kitty Hawk

1908- Ford introduces the Model-T

1912- Titanic sinks (April 14th)


1914- World War I starts

1967- First Superbowl


1977- First Star Wars movie released



1985- Back to the Future is released, featuring Christopher Lloyd (son of Ruth Lapham Lloyd)