The following is a story discussing the renovation of the Hoyt Barnum House, courtesy The Advocate
David Hipkins, left, and Stephen Hoyt inspect the roof yesterday of the Hoyt-Barnum House, Stamford’s oldest house. Hoyt, a distant relative of the man who built the home, and workers from his firm are installing a new cedar shingle roof.
Chris Preovolos / staff photo
July 15, 2004
Copyright © 2004, Southern Connecticut Newspapers, Inc.
July 15, 2004
Stamford 's oldest house set to get new roof starting today
By Donna Porstner
STAMFORD -- The city's oldest building, the 305-year-old Hoyt-Barnum House on Bedford Street, is under construction for the first time since a major restoration in 1973.
A firm that specializes in historic buildings hired by the Stamford Historical Society, which owns the little house next to the Stamford Police station, is scheduled to begin taking off its moss-covered roof today.
"If you look at the roof, it's nice and green like a golf course," said Stamford Historical Society Executive Director Tom Zoubek. "There are even small saplings growing in one of the gutters, so clearly it needs to be redone."
It will be replaced with a new, waterproof roof made of hand-split cedar shingles, similar to the ones used to build the house centuries ago. The existing roof was installed in 1973.
The roof project, which is expected to cost about $25,000 and take about three weeks to complete, is funded by the city of Stamford.
"If it hadn't been for the city of Stamford, we wouldn't be able to do this," said Jane Flounders, a board member who gives tours of the house.
The society has hired Stephen Hoyt of Lewisboro, N.Y -- a distant ancestor of Samuel Hait, the town blacksmith who built the house in 1699 -- to repair the roof. Hoyt's firm, Tecumseh Woodworks Inc., specializes in the restoration of historic buildings.
Zoubek said he hired Hoyt because of his expertise; he was recommended by the Wilton Historical Society, which hired him a few years ago to restore historic buildings on its property. The Hoyt family connection, Zoubek said, was a nice bonus.
According to Stamford Historical Society records, Samuel Hait built the house on a 5-acre farm. He lived there with his wife and 14 children until 1753 when the St. John family moved in. The Barnum family, which was related to the Hoyts through marriage, lived there between 1826 and 1942.
The society acquired the house in 1943 and rented it out for a few years before making it its office in the 1950s. The society used it as an office and a museum until 1984 when it moved its headquarters to its current home in the former Martha Hoyt School on High Ridge Road.
The stone foundation dates back to 1699, and most of the structure still standing today was built in the late 1700s.
"The house has always been there, it's just that it has been retooled and refurbished," Zoubek said.
Today, the house is open by appointment only, mostly to give tours to school groups. Hundreds of second-graders from throughout the city studying the Colonial era visit the house annually.
Board members say it is important to preserve the house because it is the oldest building in the city.
"There are no 17th-century structures in Stamford except this one," Zoubek said.
The society plans to open the house at 713 Bedford St. to the public the first weekend in October when it hosts a Colonial festival. Along with tours of the house, the society is planning lectures about Stamford history, Colonial games, demonstrations and an arts and crafts festival at its headquarters, 1508 High Ridge Road.
For more information about the Hoyt-Barnum House, including a virtual tour, visit the society's Web site, www.stamfordhistory.org.
Copyright © 2004 The Advocate. All Rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.
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