A legal notice printed in The Bulletin on Sept. 24 portends the demolition of the house and outbuildings that comprise the historic Schlichting Homestead, at 183 Ridgefield Road. The home was recently featured here and on WiltonBulletin.com when Dave Schlichting sold the property his family had lived in for 118 years to a developer whom he was under the impression would be restoring it, not tearing it down.
In addition to the legal notice, a sign was posted last week at the foot of the home’s driveway giving “notice of intent to demolish.” The Wilton Building Department requires that such a sign be erected immediately following the submission of a demolition application for a property more than 50 years old.
The Wilton Historic District Commission has been made aware of the developer’s intent. The commission has the power to delay the demolition for 90 days, and so will convene to discuss the matter on Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7:30 p.m., in Old Town Hall on Ridgefield Road. Members of the community are invited and encouraged to attend.
“We as a commission feel that this house is extremely important to the history of Wilton. We have to vote officially with a quorum of commissioners, but my strong hunch is that we will be taking the position to delay,” said commission Chairman Kevin Quinlan. “The delay allows for us as a commission and as a larger community to try to find people or entities who might want to save the house.”
Schlichting was quoted in The Bulletin on Sept. 4 as having said, “Selling it didn’t make me happy. The house was in pretty bad shape when we inherited it, and we would have had to spend more money than we were willing to to keep it. We dodged buyers who wanted to tear it down for two years. Actually, we ended up settling for less money so that we could give it to this developer, who’s restoring the house and barn instead of demolishing them. He seems to want to keep it for himself.”
Indeed, Schlichting is upset with this new development. Contacted for comment, he said, “I guess there’s some people on the Wilton Patch that are all upset, but certainly no one could be more upset with it than me.
“If the place was to get demolished, that would be, I think, not only a devastating loss to us, but to the town, too, really. That’s one of the most noticeable historic landmarks in the town, and plus, it’s got a unique history that is not at all similar to other historical houses in town. It’s got its own unique story line; that would be a shame to lose all of that.
“The architecture — that style of construction was rare in its time, and now it’s almost gone. It’d be tragic to lose that, too.
“The soul of this town that attracted people here is that it had all these historically significant places. I’ve been here 60 years, and I’ve seen stuff disappear. You’re going to get to a certain point when so much is gone that the flavor that has attracted people to this town will be gone.
“A lot of things can be demolished and not have that great an impact on the town’s overall appearance, but that place is a little bit more than just unique. It’s a landmark, and when people drive by, they expect to see it there.
“If this does happen, it’ll be a really sad day for me, because I was there from growing up all the way to the present, and I have some pretty happy memories over there. Some great Thanksgiving dinners on that old wood stove,” Schlichting lamented.