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Norwalk Land Trust Starts Drive To Preserve Historic White Barn Property

The snowy egret is typical of the birdlife that can be seen on habitat like the White Barn property in Norwalk.
The snowy egret is typical of the birdlife that can be seen on habitat like the White Barn property in Norwalk. Photo Credit: Contributed

NORWALK, Conn. — The Norwalk Land Trust has launched a campaign to raise $4 million to purchase the White Barn Property and preserve the 15.4-acres as woodlands, wetlands, and meadows with the eye-catching Stony Brook running through it.

The historic property is located on the Norwalk/Westport border and plays an important role protecting both the quality and quantity of drinking water for the local watershed.

“Saving this beautiful property,” says Julian Henkin, a member of the Norwalk Land Trust’s board of directors, “is essential to protect a critical habitat for wildlife and a precious, mature outdoor resource for all to enjoy. Equally important, it is key to maintaining the integrity of the local environment.

“This is one of the last remaining large parcels of private open space in of Norwalk and that makes the campaign all the more urgent.”

The White Barn property is known as the site of theater-legend Lucille Lortel’s storied White Barn Theatre, a showcase for playwrights, actors, dancers and other performing artists for more than 50 years. Among those who were part of the White Barn family was barrier-breaking dancer Carmen de Lavallade, one of this year’s Kennedy Center honorees. Because of extensive deterioration, the house and theater were demolished last August.

“Playwrights and performers flocked to the White Barn Theatre because this beautiful site was both serene and inspiring,” says Henkin. “We hope that by saving the property from development, we will enable residents of Norwalk and surrounding communities to experience — and be inspired by — that same natural beauty, now and for generations to come.”

A successful campaign would enable the Norwalk Land Trust to create walking paths for the public to enjoy the mature forest and diverse wildlife. In addition, it would allow the group to expand its outdoor classroom environmental program for students in the Norwalk public school system.

The price of the property is $5 million. However, a $1 million pledge by developers James, William and Robert Fieber has reduced the cost of the acquisition accordingly, leaving $4 million to be raised by the fundraising campaign. A challenge one-for-one matching grant of $300,000 has already been established toward the goal.

Neighbors of the property are partnering with the Norwalk Land Trust and the Friends of the White Barn Preserve to raise the funds. Talks are underway to enlist the White Barn Theatre Foundation and others to join the initiative, which could make it possible to build a new theatre on a section of the property in the future.

The Norwalk Land Trust invites residents of Norwalk, Westport and other nearby communities to support their fundraising efforts. To recognize donors, a list of their names will be posted at the entrance to the property.

Click here for additional information is available at the Norwalk Land Trust website. Donations may be made there via PayPal or they can be mailed to the Norwalk Land Trust, PO Box 34, Norwalk, CT 06853. Tours of the property can also be arranged through info@norwalklandtrust.org.

The Norwalk Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donations made prior to the purchase will be held in an escrow account until the closing.

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