“Saving this beautiful property,” says Julian Henkin, a member of the Norwalk Land Trust’s board of directors, “is essential to protect a critical habitat for wildlife and a precious, mature outdoor resource for all to enjoy. Equally important, it is key to maintaining the integrity of the local environment.
“This is one of the last remaining large parcels of private open space in of Norwalk and that makes the campaign all the more urgent.”
The White Barn property is best known to many in the area as the site of theatre legend Lucille Lortel’s storied White Barn Theatre, an incubator and showcase for playwrights, actors, dancers and other performing artists for more than 50 years. Among those who were part of the White Barn family was barrier-breaking dancer Carmen de Lavallade, one of this year’s Kennedy Center honorees. Because of extensive deterioration, the house and theater were demolished last August.
“Playwrights and performers flocked to the White Barn Theatre because this beautiful site was both serene and inspiring,” says Henkins. “We hope that by saving the property from development, we will enable residents of Norwalk and surrounding communities to experience –-and be inspired by-–that same natural beauty, now and for generations to come.”
A successful campaign would enable the Norwalk Land Trust to create walking paths for the public to enjoy the mature forest and diverse wildlife. In addition, it would allow the group to expand its outdoor classroom environmental program for students in the Norwalk public school system.
The price of the property is $5 million. However a $1 million pledge by developers James, William and Robert Fieber has reduced the cost of the acquisition accordingly, leaving $4 million to be raised by the fundraising campaign. A challenge one-for-one matching grant of $300,000 has already been established towards the goal.
Neighbors of the property are partnering with the Norwalk Land Trust and the Friends of the White Barn Preserve to raise the funds. Talks are underway to enlist the White Barn Theatre Foundation and others to join the purchase initiative, which could make it possible to build a new theatre on a section of the property in the future.
The Norwalk Land Trust invites residents of Norwalk, Westport and other nearby communities to support their fundraising efforts. To recognize donors, a list of their names will be posted at the entrance to the property.
Additional information is available on the home page of the Norwalk Land Trust (www.norwalklandtrust.org). Donations may be made there via PayPal or they can be mailed to the Norwalk Land Trust, PO Box 34, Norwalk, CT 06853. Tours of the property can also be arranged through firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Norwalk Land Trust is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Donations made prior to the purchase will be held in an escrow account until the closing.
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