Tag Archives: Norwalk Historic Commission

Wednesday Hearing May Determine White Barn Fate

The meeting is in Norwalk. But Westporters have plenty of reasons to go too.

On Wednesday (March 2, 7 p.m., City Hall), the Norwalk Historic Commission holds a hearing on the future of the White Barn Theatre property. That’s the wooded 15 acres just across the town line, which may (or may not) become the site of a 15-home luxury development.

It’s also the site of Lucille Lortel’s famed White Barn Theatre (which always had a Westport address). Which is why Waldo Mayo — great-grand-nephew of the actress/producer, and head of a new non-profit foundation — hopes for a large turnout.

“We must stop the developer from destroying this important part of Connecticut’s arts history,” Mayo says.

He hopes Westporters and Norwalkers will support preservation of the entire complex. The Lucille Lortel and Waldo Mayo White Barn Foundation would like more time to continue discussions about a “reasonable purchase agreement” for the property.

Relaxing outside the White Barn Theatre, around 1951.

Relaxing outside the White Barn Theatre, around 1951.

Diane Lauricella — a neighbor and Norwalk preservationist — says that on March 23, the developer may knock down all the buildings. Including the historic theater, which from 1947 to 2002 hosted an ever-changing array of world-class actors in experimental, sometimes world-premiere shows by internationally known playwrights.

Mayo believes the White Barn land could become a job creation center for culture, social justice and innovation. That would be a great way to carry on his great-grand-aunt’s legacy.

Mayo’s foundation has the backing of Kevin  Spacey, Estelle Parsons and Tovah Feldshuh — all of whom have appeared on the White Barn stage. Several actors may appear at Norwalk City Hall on Wednesday, to read letters of support they’ve already received.

A 6:30 p.m. rally will precede the hearing. For more information, click here.