Right after World War II, local real estate developer B.V. Brooks Sr. built Westfair Village for beneficiaries of the GI bill.
Located on an old onion farm directly behind Westfair Shopping Center — Brooks’ strip mall opposite what is now Stop & Shop — Westfair Village’s circular streets featured modest Capes on 1/3-acre lots. He named the roads “Westfair” and “Fairport” — combinations of Westport and nearby Fairfield — as well as “Dexter” (the nickname of his son, B.V. Jr.) and “Brook” (presumably short for his own last name).
In the nearly 70 years since then, Westfair Village has seen many changes. Homeowners added 2nd floors, rebuilt their interiors, and enlarged their small houses. Some became teardowns, replaced by bigger homes (though none qualify as “McMansions”). Large trees provide shade, on once-open lots.
Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)
But 7 decades have not changed one element of Westfair Village. It is still a true neighborhood. Mothers push babies in strollers. Kids ride bikes. Folks take after-dinner walks. Everyone looks out for each other.
There are block parties, holiday parties, and welcome-to-Westfair parties.
In a 21-century touch, there’s also an active website through which residents share news, advice, and recommendations for doctors, lawn services and babysitters.
John DeLibero bought his house in 1983, for $102,000. The other day, he and his partner Ron Johnson invited me over to see the neighborhood they love.
John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.
Ron grew up in one of the 1st suburban subdivisions, in Huntington, Long Island. Everyone knew everyone else. There was the same small-town feeling when he lived in Washington, Connecticut.
In Westport, he says, “people lead more independent lives.” John adds, “It’s hard to know your neighbors when you live on a street that everyone races down at 40 miles an hour.”
That’s why they love Westfair Village. No one drives quickly; the streets are too narrow and curved for that.
With houses close together, they really do know everyone else. And it’s a diverse mix: doctors, retirees, actors, financial folks, house painters. Plenty of people work from home.
The neighborhood has gone through cycles. Returning soldiers and their young wives raised families. Kids grew up; some moved away, others bought nearby. The parents stayed — some until they died.
Today the homes are once again filled with young families, just starting out.
One of Westfair Village’s attractions is affordability. Prices rose from $350,000 a decade ago to $1.125 million (new construction) just before the meltdown. Prices for original (rebuilt) homes are still shy of $600,000.
This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan — the same in every home — was reworked.
Building lots are another story. Two homes on Brook Lane recently sold for about $2.3 million.
But Brook Lane is on the far edge of Westfair Village. Mostly, it looks not substantially different than it has for the past 70 years.
The homes are a bit bigger. The foliage is lusher.
Yet up and down the circular roads, kids still play, parents still chat, and couples still stroll.
It’s not a place that time forgot.
Just a place where time moves — wonderfully — a bit more slowly.