Wendy Crowther’s family came to Westport in 1971. They moved into an antique house, which captured the teenager’s interest. A few years later she did the research necessary for it to be listed in Westport’s Historic Inventory.
That sparked a love of Westport history that continues today. It also spurred her to write this commentary, for “06880.”
Having been elated over the RTM’s recent action to “approve the move” that saved the historic Kemper-Gunn House from the wrecking ball, it was particularly disheartening to notice the following:
Westport’s Historic District Commission just posted the agenda for its November 12 meeting. Of the 16 agenda items, 14 are requests to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit. So there are 14 requests to demolish 15 structures in Westport (one is a request to demolish 2 structures on 1 property). Each is 50 years old or more.
One of the 14 requests is a house listed on Westport’s Historic Resources Inventory. Another is located in the Mill Cove Historic District.
A 180-day demo delay has already been placed on each of these structures. However, the applicants are requesting that the HDC waive the remainder of the delay.
I’m always astounded at the number of demo permit applications that the HDC must review each month. But this might be the biggest list ever.
I’m not intimately familiar with most of the 15 structures/homes listed for pending demolition. And I’m not saying that all of them are notable enough to warrant preservation efforts (though I do object to decent, livable homes being relegated to landfill).
However, one of the demo permits involves the 2 buildings on the Geiger Garden Center property.
This property has been in and out of the news for a few years. A site plan for redevelopment was floated through the town’s approval bodies a year or two ago (I think the application ran into difficulties and was withdrawn). Based on the above request to waive the demo delay, I’m guessing a new stab at redevelopment of the site is coming around again.
I’m not a fan of the Geiger house that fronts the Post Road — but I am a big fan of the old barn in the rear. Inside that barn are supporting beams/joists that still have bark on them. I was told by an old-time Westporter that these joists were made of hemlock trees that came from what is now Winslow Park.
I hope the HDC will not waive the remainder of the demo delay for this barn. In the meantime, I hope there might be a way to save it and incorporate it into whatever plans the developers might have for the property.
Or perhaps someone out there would love to put an old barn on their property. Could the developers of the Geiger property be convinced to fund such a move? David Waldman and his partners (of Kemper-Gunn preservation fame) have learned what good sense and good will can come from preservation efforts. Perhaps David can put in a good word for this great old barn.
Westporters have helped encourage some great saves lately. The Kemper-Gunn House was one of those saves. Another was convincing the corporate entity that owns Terrain that they couldn’t tear down the little, vintage house (formerly the Dress Barn) to help improve their parking problem.
Can the barn on the Geiger property stimulate a similar rallying cry for preservation?