The Ardsley Inn

In the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, many city residents ventured to New Canaan for the summer to experience the “countryside” and experience a change from city life. After the railroad came to New Canaan in 1868, the town was more accessible and boarding houses began cropping up. Until the early 1900’s, the only alternative to the boarding houses was the Birdsall House (previously the New Canaan Inn). However, in the first decade of the 20th century, places such as The Ardsley Inn began housing summer (and long-term) residents. These postcards show the Ardsley Inn, painted green with white trim. The accompanying photograph was taken around 1907 to 1908. The Ardsley was located at the corner of Maple St. &
Park St. now the site of six town homes. It was originally built in the 1790’s by Ezra Benedict, about 11 feet above street level. In 1824 it was purchased by David Law, who passed it along to his son Alexander and then sold it to Philo Thatcher in 1883. The property changed hands yet again in 1905, when Mrs. J. Mortimer Dow purchased it. She named the house, “The Ardsley” and advertised “excellent suits of rooms, heat and bath, with all modern improvements”, emphasizing the location in town near the train station. The Ardsley did so well under Mrs. Dow’s management that she made additions to the house and bought a the house next door at 49 Maple Street (became known as the
“Annex”) for guests. Eventually, she handed over the inn to Gertrude (her daughter) and Joseph Silliman (the owner of a local grocery and general store; later owned Silliman’s Hardware Store). Under their management, the Ardsley did just as well and was known for its marvelous food. Guests who stayed at the Ardsley included Jane Cooper, a “leading” Broadway actress; Elinor Glynn, author; and the wife of Solon Borglum, famous sculptor. The Ardsley continued operating until Joseph Silliman had gotten old, and the Great Depression left its toll on the country; in 1934, the inn closed its doors.

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