The Rowayton Community Center
These six acres of property have a long and extensive history and represent the nerve center of today's Sixth Taxing District.
In 1910, James Farrell, president and future chairman of U.S. Steel and founder of the Farrell Steamship Lines, bought a large stretch of land along Highland Avenue. The tract on the west side of Highland Avenue became the gardens, farm and out-buildings of the estate. These were built in 1912.
The complex consisted of barn, stables, garage, ice house, tool and wagon shed, blacksmith shop, greenhouse, potting shed and root cellar.
With the death of Mr. and Mrs. Farrell, the property was sold to James Rand of Darien, the chairman of the board of the Remington Rand Corporation. Mr. Rand refit the stables across the street to accommodate his researchers. It was in the stables, called “The Barn”, that a few hundred technicians developed the Remington Rand 409 – the five foot tall, seven foot long business computer prototype, which was the first of its kind.
In 1966, “The Barn” and its six acres were purchased by the 6TD (Rowayton) for $142,500. This property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on August 2, 1977.
The complex contains the Rowayton Library (renovated in 2006), offices of the Sixth Taxing District, meeting rooms, the Underground Teen Center, the Paddle Hut, the Dog Park, garages, and various storage facilities. The building is over 100 years old.
The Commissioners of the 6TD realized the need to look after the building so organized a Long Term Planning Committee in 2008 and this Committee developed a phased approach to a renovation endeavor.
- The first stage related to the slate roofs and copper gutters. Through an accidental encounter, the Committee learned about a historic preservation matching grant program run by the State of CT tailor-made to our project. The 6TD received a $147,000 grant towards this project and the work was completed over the summer of 2011.
- The second phase of related to the rest of the exterior – windows, doors, trim and walls. We won a second state grant – this time for $198,000. The project was completed by the end of 2012.
- What was referred to as Phase 2.5 took place in 2013 and represented the renovation of the apartment over the Library. The Commissioners decided to quit renting this as an apartment and to covert the space into the offices for the 6TD. Previously, these offices had been jammed into 2 small rooms on the other side of the building. The conversion required some work including a new HVAC system and remediation work. This cost about $45,000.
- In 2015, Phase 3.0 was undertaken. This phase represented a range of utility and site work. This phase represented a range of utility and site work. The electrical connection to the building -- deemed unsafe -- was replaced, the service was upgraded and the electric line was buried. The septic system was shut down and the building was connected to the sewer. The biggest impact of this project was the addition of a new exit driveway, new parking and a major change in car circulation.
- From the Spring into the Fall of 2016, a range of projects were undertaken. The complex was completely repointed (the stone construction needed to be maintained and the 6TD was concerned about leaks), the Potting Shed was worked on, exterior lighting was added and the Courtyard was built.
- On November 16, 2016 a Special 6TD Meeting of Residents was held to review a proposed plan of (1) environmental remediation (2) final phase of HVAC replacement and (3) interior renovation. The Planning Committee presented interior renovation options after input from 3 community charrettes/discussions that took place in 2012-13. The plans included a bigger, higher capacity meeting room with more natural light and wiring for the 21st century, better access to both downstairs and upstairs, a new kitchen, more meeting rooms, and better circulation through the building. The proposed plan was approved unanimously by all residents in attendance.
- This work began in the Spring of 2018 and was completed by the Fall of 2018. An open house was held on February 20, 2019 for all residents to see the transformation.
2011-2012 Before, During and After Photos
The Final Plans for the Interior Renovation
For information on the use or reservation of this property, please contact the 6TD Clerk at 203-854-6666 Extension #1.
Rowayton Community Center
33 Highland Avenue
Rowayton, CT 06853