The following letter was submitted by Wilton resident Donna Harakas, who requested it be published in GMW.com. It is an open letter written to James A. Fieber, the CEO of Fieber Group LLC, in New Canaan, the parent company of 183 Ridgefield Rd. LLC, which purchased the 13.5 acre parcel at 183 Ridgefield Rd. on Aug. 21, 2015.
Dear Mr. Fieber,
” [I]s it not cruel to let our city die by degrees,
stripped of all her proud moments, until
there is nothing left of all her history and
beauty to inspire our children? If they are not
inspired by the past of our city, where will they
find the strength to fight for her future?
Americans care about their past, but for short
term gain they ignore it and tear down
everything that matters….”
These words written 40 years ago by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis helped save Grand Central Terminal from demolition and came to mind when I saw the “Notice of Intent to Demolish” sign in front of the Schlichting Homestead. I was especially saddened to see that sign after reading the Wilton Bulletin article on Aug. 21 that said you were planning to save this lovely 1850 Italianate house and its barn.
As the owner of an antique property in Wilton, I have come to realize that I am a mere steward of the property ⎯ the true ownership is intangible and rests with our community. Wilton is valued for its scenic roads and antique homes which not only add charm and beauty to Wilton’s landscape, but are a reminder of our history and heritage.
I implore you to reconsider your decision and opt to save these beautiful structures that have been Wilton landmarks for over 150 years.
By all means you are free to develop your property but why not do it in a manner to preserve this precious piece of Wilton history? The Wilton community will come together to applaud your decision.
Today, no one can dispute the loss had Grand Central Terminal been demolished (just read what has been written about old Penn Station). If demolished, no one may remember the Schlichting Homestead forty years from now. Is this not tragic? Where will we be 40 years from now as our history is torn down one home at a time?
Wiltonians do care about their past and choose to preserve and not tear it down. Save the Schlichting Homestead and serve as a model for other developers tempted to raze antique historic properties.
Please reconsider your decision and preserve this historically significant example of Italianate Victorian architecture so that future generations may continue to admire not only its beauty and charm but the bygone history and heritage it represents.