That Old House

Plenty of readers have admired the new header photo at the top of “06880.”

(If you subscribe by email and have no idea what I’m talking about, here it is:)

Plenty of Westporters — myself included — have long admired the house in the middle of the Mill Pond, but never known the back story.

(I have been inside. Back in its uninhabited — and my younger — days, it was a favorite party destination. I really hope the statute of limitations is up.)

But only Wendy Crowther emailed me with some very intriguing info. This very alert reader wrote:

The photo shows the cottage that I’ve heard called “The Hummock House.” It is the small shack sitting on a hummock (a rounded knoll, or in this case a rocky sand and mudflat) in the middle of the Sherwood Mill Pond.

Old stories say that it was once a part of the gristmill that sat at the foot of the pond (where the tide gates are today). When the mill was destroyed by fire in 1891, an unburned portion (perhaps part of the barrel and cask-maker’s shed) was floated out to the hummock. Once there, it served as a guardhouse for the shellfish beds in the pond.

Despite the fact that there is no electricity or plumbing, it has been occupied over the years, on and off, by a resident who obviously lived very simply and preferred privacy. A few years ago the cottage was put on the market, along with 6 watery acres surrounding it, for $1.5 million. It came with an option to buy the clamming and oystering rights to an additional 30 acres. I don’t know whether it sold.

I cropped the header photo, by the way, from a larger (and very beautiful) photograph I found online. I believe the photographer is Jeff Giannone:

18 responses to “That Old House

  1. VETDOC at Compo

    So, that’s the story……….I have always wondered what the history was behind that old house.
    Thanks Dan for enlightening!

    I learn something new here every day!

  2. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    Funny, I don’t remember that cottage, but my Uncle Frazier Scott and his family lived on the Mill Pond and one very cold winter we went skating up and down the Mill Pond. On the way down, all we did was open our coats and the wind would move us. Coming back against the wind was a different story. I don’t think the Mill Pond froze over very often.

  3. Is accessible by low tide?

  4. The Dude Abides

    Apparently the Mill Pond house did not sell. A tad pricey at 1.5 million. I do believe it was occupied in the 60’s as one night we were “skinny dipping” in that general vicinity and the tenant came out to yell us off. All I remember was a big man with a beard. My gal was afraid of her own shadow so never went near it again. Seriously cool though.

    • Did you hear any banjo music?

    • The ownership of a private shellfish bed can be worth quite a lot. i think the price may have been based more on the bed than on the house on the little island rising above it.

      • No electricity in that house either or running water. We had that discussion about the beds. Better off buying Lehman Brothers stock.

      • Do you know where are sales of Westport’s private shellfish beds published? I never see that information. It would be interesting to see how much recent transfers of ownerships sold for.

  5. VETDOC at Compo

    Great story!


  6. that is a really beautiful photograph. it really captures the sensation of that house for all of us who have watched the area change over the decades without having to see that house change at all.

  7. Doze it !

    Drain the bloody pond and build McMansions. AKA Starter Castles.

  8. I think it is gorgeous, even with–and perhaps especially because of its inaccessability and aloneness…That entire area is magical to me. We live in a little house down near the beach but I am drawn to the Mill Pond.
    Does anyone know– ??? Can you get a permit and learn to hunt for oysters and clams? …and, (better ??)–would you eat them?? : ) I’m new here from the South! And have enjoyed poking around Compo and learning bits of its history– thank you, Dan– love 06880!

    Oh! and also– who does the Cairns (rocks statues))?? They are back again!!
    Thanks for the photograph!

  9. You can get a shellfishing permit from town hall. There are beds where you can clam, but you need to get a map of them when you get your permit. Clams and oysters from water such as that in the Old Mill Pond are not healthy to eat until they have been duperated (spent some time in clean water), and taking shellfish from privately owned beds is illegal.

  10. Virginia Gilbertie

    What a beautiful scene from a beautiful town! Thanks, again, Dan!

  11. there is no mystery about this house or the owner, where are you people from ? Westchester?

  12. Westport Aesthetic

    could you please post more photos of the mill pond