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The Fairfield Hills landscape is poised to change again as crews get ready to raze Canaan House — a 208,888-square-foot building across from the Newtown Municipal Center.
Already on the job since late January doing site work and preparation for demolition is AAIS Corporation, a demolition contractor out of West Haven. Crews so far have removed the roof, much of the interior materials and, most recently, the many windows, where dark, empty holes now pock the exterior.
The final building demolition is scheduled to begin as soon as Wednesday, June 15, with a machine that “bites the building and they will take it down from the top in little sections,” said Newtown Grants Coordinator Christal Preszler. The work is a five- or six-week process that will include some tunnel removal and other site work, she said.
The work is paid for through $5 million in Capital Improvement Plan funds pooling together the demolition, duplex renovation, single-family house demolition and a greenhouse removal.
This week demolition machinery stood ready but silent in the final days before work will begin and slowly the structure will come down and its debris trucked away.
Canaan House, a former state hospital residential building with three stories, an attic and a basement, also contains multiple corridors, nurses’ stations, common areas and elevators. Built in 1940, the building was heated and had air conditioning installed in 1990. After the state closed its Fairfield Hills facility in the late 1990s, the town for several years used Canaan House for some town departments.
When work first started early in 2016, Ms Preszler recalled the interior. “There was a lot of delamination, and things that once were nice are no longer, just from the passage of time,” she said.
When AAIS first arrived on site in January and the chain link fences, still surrounding the building, first went up, cold wind whipped against Canaan House, slipping inside its many broken windows. It was estimated then that the former state hospital residence treatment facility would be gone.by this summer.
With the building down, “It will open up the campus and be more attractive,” Land Use Director George Benson said at that time.
“It will change the landscape,” Ms Preszler had agreed.
The area could find a future use for parking, but no particular plan is in place, Mr Benson said. A new community center, recently approved at referendum, will sit adjacent to the NYA Sports & Fitness Center, putting it between the Canaan House location and the fitness facility.
The town and state had cleared out anything of use inside the building, including any old records. Any leftover furniture or other items of use were removed, Mr Benson said.
Learn more about Canaan House and other Fairfield Hills buildings at fairfieldhills.org.