Historical Society Warns Razing Fourth Ward Structures Would Set Dangerous Precedent

To protect significant historic structures located in Greenwich’s downtown Fourth Ward Historic District from being demolished to make way for a large seven-story apartment complex on Church Street and Sherwood Place, the Greenwich Preservation Network urges town residents to sign a petition opposing their destruction.

The National Register of Historic Places designated the Fourth Ward an historic district in 2000 through the efforts of the Greenwich Historical Society and the residents of the residential development located north of the Town’s principal business district.

Of the 190 buildings and sites, 160 were deemed historic resources located on Church, Division, Northfield and William Streets and on Putnam Court and Sherwood Place.

“We need to stop this unreasonable destruction of significant structures in this district. This sets a dangerous precedent not only for the Fourth Ward, but for other historic districts and significant structures which are part of Greenwich history,” said Diane Fox, Greenwich Preservation Network Chair.

According to the National Register, the Fourth Ward was the oldest urban neighborhood in Greenwich, housed one of the town’s most important 19th-century African American enclaves, and was the nucleus of its Irish population. It includes one of only two African American churches in town, and it was home to its first Roman Catholic Church.

Comprised of the leadership of organizations committed to the preservation of Greenwich’s historic resources, the Preservation Network went on record at the October 2021 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting to oppose the pre-application for the development proposed by Church Sherwood LLC.

Several of the structures cited for demolition have a strong street presence and include:
• 39 Church Street, a 19th century vernacular building, built in 1889
• 43 Church Street, an Italianate residence, built in 1884
• 47 Church Street, a Second Empire residence, built in 1884
• 32 Sherwood Place, built in 1908

“We had hoped a modified application would be submitted which would have preserved these significant historic structures while still building affordable housing in the rear,” Fox added. “However, this application still requires the demolition of these buildings.”

“It’s critically important that residents from all over Greenwich recognize the impact that the loss of these structures will have on this highly visible downtown neighborhood by signing our petition which can be found through this link or on the Greenwich Historical Society website: www.greenwichhistory.org.”

“While the Preservation Network supports development initiatives that will increase affordable housing, which this development aims to do, it is imperative that it be done in a responsible manner that does not endanger important historic districts,” said Debra Mecky, executive director and CEO of the Greenwich Historical Society, with whom the Preservation Network is affiliated.

“Our history matters,” Mecky added. “These structures contribute to a sense of place for a town deeply rooted in our nation’s past, and they provide a foundation for building a better future.”

For more on the history of the Fourth Ward and the 8-30g proposal:

Petition Circulates Opposing 192-Unit, 7-Story 8-30g Affordable Housing Development in Greenwich’s Historic Fourth Ward District

Final Site Plan for Controversial Church & Sherwood 8-30g Submitted to P&Z Feb 18, 2022

192-Unit Affordable Housing Development Would Raze Restaurant, Historic Houses September 2021

Neighbors Vent Opposition to 8-30g on Church and Sherwood; Destruction of Historic District Considered October 2021