Wednesday, September 29, 2004
With the pace of Westport teardowns at a record level, WestportNow decided to feature some of the demolitions that are causing such an upheaval on the real estate scene. We welcome reader contributions to this occasional photo feature, which is intended to create a digital record of some of Westport’s history. This house was at 161 Compo Road South. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Posted 09/29/04 at 05:04 PM Permalink
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I very much appreciate your coverage of antique homes being torn down in Westport. I happened to live in that home for 32 years, and other familes for about 170 years before us. Including the Toquet Family and the Boyd Family. I find it sad in general and heartbreaking in specific. Regards, Tracy Flood
A distressing reminder that house by house, bulldozed one at a time, Westport is starting to look like just another late 20th suburban development.
From personal experience, I urge buyers of old homes to live in their house for a year or two before doing any substantial work: make friends with the house, the property, and learn the vernacular of the neighborhood.
If you’re new to the area, take a bike ride down Cross Highway, and turn left on Redding Road (that’s Fairfield, sorry Gordon!) for a neighborhood of beautiful old homes, many of them modest farmhouses. And closer by, near 161 Compo Road South, check out numbers 123 and 140, both modest antique farmhouses, lovingly restored by their present owners and exquisitely charming inside and out.
Thanks for showing these old houses. I read the Historic District Agendas and try to visit the places they consider for demolition permits but sometimes I can’t find them or it’s too late. The topic of tear-downs is one that is discussed almost every day among my friends, old-timers and new-comers alike.
Jo Ann Davidson
I drove by this partial teardown a week or so ago, and our digital camera was off being fixed so I had no way to take a photo. I had the same reaction: we need to document these wonderful homes (old and new) that gave Westport it’s character. Thanks to David Matlow and Gordon. Ten years ago you’d drive down a street and there would be an old farmhouse, a small, pristine cape, a modern house set back, a Victorian home from the 1800s, and it was so charming. We are ALL going to lose if there is just stone fence with 4’ high wooden fence atop it, hiding any views, for mile after mile in town. We’ve solved bigger problems: any ideas about what we can do? Lovingly from someone who moved here in 1946 to Roseville Road (originally called Poor Town Road, according to my late-102-year-old neighbor, Mabel Summers!), Linda
Its not that things are changing, its the rate at which things are changing. Westport’s real estate is undergoing the natural (and sometimes unfortunate and disconcerting) state of evolution. Whose fault is it? Should the seller pre-qualify the buyer and demand that the buyer only renovate rather than obliterate their home? Do we seek to regulate (ugh!) in an attempt to control this remaking of our residential landscape? Or do we accept this change as the natural progression of our town and our society and try to move on? Kindda reminds me of the Town’s struggle with the Long Term School Renovation/Building Program and the many other Town-wide issues surrounding those who advocate for change and those who don’t. Yet this one is centered on our individual rights to own and maintain our personal property.
I happen to know the person who now owns this house and she has done everything to try to save it. Her engineer and her contractor both said that it was too far gone. She got demolition permission from the Historic Distric Commission as the house had historic designation, and she must rebuild so the the outside of the house looks just like the old one. She even called me before demolition so that I would not think badly of her.(I live in a 1740’s farmhouse which she sold me when she was a RE broker) I remember well how excited she was when she bought the house and we talked about how much fun it would be to restore it. This is not a case of disregard for an old house. It is a case of too many people letting it go until it was too late.