The Historic District & Historic Property Commission approved Wilton Congregational Church’s request to erect a plaque honoring the late Walter Smith during its Sept. 8 meeting.
The plaque is “designed to honor the life of Walt Smith, who dedicated his many talents to the community of Wilton and to the Congregational Church,” commission chair Kevin Quinlan told The Bulletin.
Smith, a 70-year resident of Wilton, died Feb. 12, 2015, at the age of 92. He was a builder, building historian and preservationist of Wilton’s architectural history. Smith was the first champion of the Wilton Historical Society and the town’s foremost authority on historical carpentry and construction.
When Smith died, Carl Yoder, a longtime friend of Smith and architect, told The Bulletin the town lost “a tremendous resource on the history of the town, the history of old buildings and how they were put together.
“He could date a building by the very nails that were used or how many panes there were in a window, and he knew how that window frame was put together, too,” said Yoder.
“He not only collected the tools — he knew how to use them. We lost a history of construction by his passing.”
Bill Follett, head of the Wilton Congregational Church Building and Grounds Committee, told the Historic District & Historic Property Commission the church has consulted the Smith family and “they feel that the plaque is an appropriate way to recognize Smith’s contributions.” Quinlan said the commission agreed.
Wilton Congregational Church and its buildings, including parsonage and barns are in Wilton’s Historic District #2, said Quinlan.
The plaque will be positioned on one of the Comstock barns at the corner of Ridgefield and Belden Hill roads.
Because the barn is historically designated, the commission must review the general style and appearance of the plaque to make sure it is appropriate.
Follett shared a photo of the barn, possible plaque positioning and several plaque designs with the commission, which then chose two simple designs that are similar to the historic markers used in town.
The commission suggested the plaque be large enough to be read by people in passing vehicles and protected from potential snow plow damage.
Quinlan said Follett will discuss possible dates to place the plaque with the Wilton Congregational Church Building and Grounds Committee.
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