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REO’s 157 Riverside Avenue

Westport’s Historic District Commission reviews the proposed teardown of any home over 50 years old.

Sometimes they’re lovely, architecturally significant treasures.  Usually they’re outdated, 51-year-old split levels.  Almost always, the commission says “yes.”

But what will they say when REO Speedwagon fans learn that 157 Riverside Avenue is may be bulldozed into oblivion?

The ’70s rock band — best known for “Keep On Loving You” and “Take It on the Run” — released their 1st album in 1971. The most popular track was “157 Riverside Avenue.

Yes, that’s our 157 Riverside Avenue.  REO Speedwagon stayed there — directly across from Bedford Junior High School (now Saugatuck El) while recording in Bridgeport.  According to Wikipedia, that song “remains an in-concert favorite.”

(They’re still touring.  On September 15, you can catch them at the Kansas State Fair.  Little River Band too!)

But back to 157 Riverside.  Nick Thiemann — an attorney who lives next door — recently wrote to the Historic District Commission.

He does not object to the demolition.  However, he said:

While it would not appear that Washington slept there, it does seem as though someone did.  Whether this historical significance is relevant to your deliberations is a question you must determine.

Over the years that I have lived here (since 1968), I have been asked periodically if this is “really the REO Speedwagon 157 Riverside Avenue.”  Not often to be sure, but probably more often than neighbors of many the other houses you have designated as historically significant.

Okay.  It isn’t Big Pink.

But its ours.

And REO Speedwagon’s.

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157 Riverside Avenue -- hidden by trees, like a true celebrity house.

We flew into town on Sunday, had to find a place by Monday
Tried Bridgeport and Westport, ’til we found a place that we thought would do
157 Riverside Avenue.

Saugatuck River’s flowin’, mother nature’s colors were showin’
So cold, so rainy, we couldn’t help feelin’ blue
Not enough time, too many things to do.

We met a young girl on Main Street, wanted to just pass her by
She was homely, so lonely, she said, “can I make love to you?”
We shouted 157 Riverside Avenue.

It’s over, Miss Lena, we’re leaving, such a pleasant stay, I must say.
So nice, so easy, we hate to say goodbye to you
At 157 Riverside Avenue.

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