The Supreme Court Comes To Westport

Abe Fortas (courtesy of Wikipedia)

Abe Fortas (courtesy of Wikipedia)

As Sonia Sotomayor prepares for next week’s confirmation hearings, 1 Westporter’s thoughts turn to another Supreme Court justice.  As with everything else in the world, there’s a Westport connection.

Adam Stolpen — an attorney and local resident for over 50 years — spent many weekends with Abe Fortas and his wife Carol at their Minute Man Hill summer home.  Fortas was a Supreme Court justice from 1965 until 1969, when — after being nominated by Lyndon Johnson to replace Earl Warren as Chief Justice, yet not receiving Senate confirmation — he resigned under pressure.

“Abe would work around the house, while Carol — an Arnold & Porter senior tax partner — gardened at their 19th century farmhouse at the very top of the hill,” Stolpen recalls.

Nearly every day,  the couple walked to Compo Beach.  They’d drink martinis, swim in the Sound, and get burgers and dogs from Chubby Lane’s (the concession stand prior to Joey’s), Stolpen says.

Sometimes they were alone.  Often, they brought high-powered Washington guests.   Justice William O. Douglas and his wife visited; so did Isaac Stern.   Lyndon Johnson came too, Stolpen says, though not while president.

When the Fortases moved from Westport, they offered to sell their large farmhouse on Minute Man Hill — with water views and several acres — to Stolpen.  The price:  $60,000.

He declined.

3 responses to “The Supreme Court Comes To Westport

  1. Originally heard the following observation-appreciation of Westport from my grandparents and their siblings who would come from NYC & LIsland and stay with friends who were part of The Town’s summer-artist community: what made (makes) Westport so much fun and so comfortable for everyone – no matter how noticed and hounded they were in other locations – was that Westport is a first name only community, i.e., Westporters were more eager to get to know the people who lived and visited residents – as persons – than in their last names and thus who they were during the work week.

    • Very interesting comment. I know that was one of the reasons Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward stayed here so long. I wonder if it still holds true today?

  2. I think so. And thanks to this article I’m making sure to appreciate that quality again. Albeit while I continue to sign Anonymous 😉