Another One Bites The Dust…

WestportNow’s “Teardown of the Day” series is many things.

It’s fascinating, educational, addictive and depressing.

It’s also relentless. Every few days, a new house is slated for demolition. Some of them we’ll never miss. Others, it’s hard to believe anyone would knock them down.

And then there is a house like yesterday’s.

WestportNow featured the home at 14 Charcoal Hill Road. Built in 1928, it was owned by Natalie Maynard, the noted concert pianist, and her husband Harry. They lived there since 1977, after inheriting it from her parents. Just last year, the Maynards proudly placed an “Honoring Our Heritage” Westport Historical Society plaque on it.

The house at 14 Charcoal Hill Road. (Photo/Bob Weingarten for WestportNow)

It’s a Frazier Peters house.

Arguably Westport’s most famous architect, he built over 2 dozen homes here.

Writer Susan Farewell — a Peters expert — wrote:

Were Frazier Peters to build houses today, he’d be receiving all sorts of accolades for being an architect on the leading edge of environmentally-conscious, energy-efficient, sustainable design and construction.

The thick fieldstone walls (as much as 16 inches) typical of a Peters stone house make them energy-efficient; the stones effectively hold the heat in winter and keep the interiors cools in summer….

He segregated rooms by giving each one a separate identity, and through the use of step-downs, varied building materials, and interesting transitions. He was also taken by how beautifully European stone structures aged and compared them to American-built frame houses that “droop and pout if they are not continually groomed and manicured.”

Another important component of Peters’ designs was the marriage of the house and its surroundings. He wrote a great deal about this and was especially enamored with the brooks, hillsides, and woods of Connecticut.

Harry Maynard died in August 2011, 3 months after affixing the heritage plaque to his home. He was 93.

Natalie Maynard died 7 months later, in March. She was 85.

And now — just 2 months after her death — an application is in process to demolish their hom

Their Frazier Peters home.

(UPDATE:  As noted in the comments section below, according to Elise Russi, the Maynard estate itself is applying for demolition. She adds, “they would welcome offers in writing from anyone seriously interested in purchasing the property. It is for sale but not listed on MLS. The owners/executors are listed in the Westport online land records.”)

76 responses to “Another One Bites The Dust…

  1. Jamie Walsh

    Just goes to show that people can have more money than common sense!

    • Anyone can lack common sense

      Harry and Natalie Maynard would probably be very sad to hear you speak of their children/grandchildren like that.

  2. Adam Stolpen

    What a monumental waste.

    I make no apology, I am a dedicated fan of houses by Frazier Foreman Peters.

    Tearing down a home by Frazier Peters is not only senseless, it’s also virtually unheard of in Westport. The only Frazier Peters house in Westport I am aware of being torn down was the one on Gorham Island, and that was a mistake. These houses ought to be appreciated, and virtually all owners of them do, as the Frazier Peters show at the Westport Historical Society recently demonstrated.

    I live in a 1928 Frazier Peters home which have been undergoing extensive renovations for months. It is complicated and not inexpensive; probably would have been less troublesome to have torn the house down and built an entirely new structure…..but easy is not always best. I’d have ended up with a home with marginal character and no history, to say nothing of loosing a perfectly good home at considerable “green” expense.

    Instead of destroying my house I left the exterior and reconstructed the interior of the place. When the work is complete I will have an exceptional property with a modern 21st century interior with all the latest amenities within a historically important and very attractive 20th century historic structure.

    I invite the current owners of 14 Charcoal Hill to contact me and come visit my home to see what a constructive renovation can do for their property. They could find that they are able to totally renovate their property for a great deal less then demolishing and building from scratch…and with a great deal gentler green footprint. That would actually be appropriate given Peters’ environmental friendly approach to building. Charcoal Hill has numerous Peters houses and the Maynard home fits into its neighborhood.

    Would be a shame to trash one of Westport’s real architectural treasures.

    • The demolition of 14 Charcoal Hill is a tragedy, wasteful and shortsighted. As Frazier Forman Peters’ granddaughter as well as an architect, sustainable design expert, and co-author of a soon to be published book on F. F. Peters, my views are backed by experience, research, and familial connection. Adam Stolpen is quite right about the multiple benefits of preserving our precious heritage. By reusing, repurposing and restoring structures, such as this, we save the embodied energy, and materials inherent in the structure as well as cultural value. Peters’ homes are constructed of concrete and stone, built to last centuries rather than decades like we generally build today. Peters took his cues from Europe where he saw century old masonry villages during his WWI tour of duty in France. Isn’t this the cultural heritage that makes a European vacation so special?

      Westport’s heritage must be preserved as well. Precious few historic structures are preserved. Buildings; how they are sited to the land, artifacts, building methods with lessons learned, history of the occupants and building, memories, etc. are non renewable resources. Once demolished they cannot be reclaimed.

      Former owner Natalie Maynard was eloquent when interviewed for a documentary on Peters’ houses last year preceding the exhibition at the Westport Historical Society. She spoke of how the home adapted to her family over several generations. Peters’ houses are designed to accept additions and expansions. What a dream it would be to sensitively retrofit such a property to a high performance (energy efficient) modern home. I may take respectful objection to one of Mr. Stolpen’s statements that it has to cost more to modernize such a property. It does not. Our firm is not alone in accomplishing cost effective retrofit strategies. We have renovated historic properties in Philadelphia’s Society Hill for clients of means and affordable historic properties near Philadelphia’s Temple University to beautifully revive them while also significantly lowering their energy costs. I invite the owners to at least have a conversation about viable preservation options.

      But let’s talk about value…. To replace this ‘in kind’ with a similarly durable, well designed structure would be excessively expensive. It will more likely be replaced with a wood frame mansion, whose useful life will fade and require excessive repairs in 30-50 years. The Maynard house has not needed extensive repairs for over 75 years! And after a proper renovation it will be similarly long lasting. And then there is history, beauty and cultural heritage ….priceless!

  3. OUTRAGEOUS! WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE IN THIS TOWN? GO BUY A MINI MANSION ON ANOTHER STREET. YOU DON’T NEED TO FLATTEN AN ARCHITECTURAL GEM. THERE’S PLENTY OF HOUSES TO CHOOSE FROM OR NON-SIGNIFICANT HOUSES TO RAIZE. COME ON. REALLY?

  4. I lived for many years at 44 Charcoal Hill — another lovely Peters, (although it was more recently added on to) — and I used to walk by this house to and from Coleytown El. & Jr. High every day for eight years … (In fact, me and a friend used to pretend it was haunted, owing to that uniquely cool tower!) …

    What can I say?! It’s the McDonald’s mentality that’s continued to chip away at this town (and perhaps the whole country) … Taste is a quaint but impractical remnant of the past. Simple minds value size, and a population too tired, overwhelmed and fearful to lift a finger to change it, sits on the couch and just lets it happen … Yes, Dan — “depressing!”

  5. As usual, much outrage and no substance. If you all love the house so much, buy it and preserve it. If you don’t care enough about the house to put your own money on the line, then all you have is hot air.

  6. Anon Plaque

    I did not know that a Westport Historical Society plaque costs $300. I would gladly give them $300 if they would accept my returned plaque AND delist my home from their historic/antique house inventory.

    • John McCarthy

      Curious, why don’t you want your house on the inventory list? Unlike being part of a Local Historic District, being on the inventory list should have no material impact on you and your ability to do with your house whatever you choose. What am I missing?

      • Anon Plaque

        John, I agree that it the inventory list has no legal implication in the demolition process. My problem is that people continue to cite the plaques and the inventory list as more reasons to stop a demolition.

        Even the above story makes that reference: Just last year, the Maynards proudly placed an “Honoring Our Heritage” Westport Historical Society plaque on it.

        • John McCarthy

          agreed. but as you know, the HDC can only delay a demolition, not stop one unless a house is under its protection in a local historic district. And a plaque or inclusion on the inventory list would only be one factor in the HDC’s decision. You can take the plaque down, but getting off the inventory list might be tough.

  7. “As usual, much outrage and no substance”.

    I couldn’t agree more. If people don’t have the money to buy an expensive house then their opinions about the “value” of the house mean nothing to me. I mean really, if you’re not rich, you have no right to hold any kind of an opinion on mansions. OK, you can have an opinion, but no one should listen. The only opinions that count when it comes to expensive houses are the opinions of people rich enough to buy them! If you don’t have the money, keep your mouth shut!

    Oh wait, that doesn’t sound like America, where everyone has a right to voice an opinion. Well, here’s to you, Mr. RICH and Anonymous, another brave, soul willing to stand up and be counted for his or her opinion, just as long as no one knows who you are.

    • Anon Plaque

      JW, I remain anonymous because I am trying to keep my home under the radar of the historic groups in town. These people want to limit what I can do with my antique, but not historic, home.

      I have too much “skin in the game”, so I choose to publicize neither myself nor my home. Thanks again to the Professor for this outlet.

  8. I met Natalie Maynard on two occasions. She was quite elegant, and very well respected here in town for her ability to take talented kids to the next level. She will be missed. That house was the home of a lot of wonderful music and inspired teaching in addition to the significant architecture and design. It’s will be sad to have it taken down. A house like that contains the echoes of great music and joy. It’s a loss.

  9. Kathie and Scott Bennewitz

    We too live in the Charcoal Hill/Greenbrier neighborhood and in a Frazier Peters house. His houses are so livable and we, too, have taken care of our house, working with architect Joe Schott to thoughtfully renovate later additions to fit the warmth and aesthetic of the original house, the last reamining wood (vs. stone) structure designed by him in Westport.
    Frazier Peters’ houses add so much character to Westport and this neighborhood’s unique streetscape, which is all to quickly disappearing. When we moved in about 7 years ago, neighbors walking “the hill,” stopped on more than one occasion and thanked us for not tearing down our house. What are the new builder/owners of the Maynard’s distinctive residence going to do? Will they clear all the trees and build a big house that sits empty and unsold, just like a neighboring property? This is really getting out of hand.

    Just last year the Westport Historical Society presented a marvelous exhibition “Frazier Forman Peters: At Home with Stone,” expertly curated by Bob Weingarten with the architect’s granddaughter, that honored Peters contribution to the landscape of Westport. As Bob wrote, “Frazier Forman Peter’s homes can be found from Virginia to Maine with a concentration in Connecticut. He designed and built over 36 known stone houses in Westport between 1924 and 1936. His designs are well known for his unique fieldstone wall construction method as well as their spatial organization and sensitive placement in relation to the natural environment.” http://westporthistory.org/exhibits/frazier-forman-peters-at-home-with-stone/

    This show brought attention to the many benefits of his well-built and attractive structures, not tearing them down. We are proud to live in and care for our house that now proudly hosts a WHS plaque commemorating Frazier Peters. We hope proper sense will prevail with the Maynard house and its future.

  10. This would be carnage of the worst kind. After the recent Westport Historical Society exhibition on Frazier Peters, Westporters should be aware what demolishing a house like this would mean for our town.

  11. A commuter, who loves westport.

    Wasn’t there also a house that was part of the freedom trail, that was on the demolition list? I know the historical society worked hard with the owner to try find alternatives, rather than tearing it down. I hope the historical society reaches out to these owners as well. There is so much to chose from in westport that is on the market already, or houses that are not historically significance, I don’t understand the need to destroy history.

  12. John McCarthy

    Want to get your neighborhood under some real and meaningful protection from the HDC? Get some neighbors together to set up a Local Historic District. We did it in the Gorham Avenue neighborhood. Only 2/3rds of the property owners on the proposed district need to approve being in the district. Local & State historic commissions and RTM approval are the only additional hurdles required. If you are serious about this, and not just interested in complaining, contact the HDC and learn what you can do.

    • Anon Plaque

      I feel bad for the 1/3 of the property owners that may not want to be included in a historic district.

  13. Would love to see some photos of the inside. It is hard to find a lot that size – I’m guessing that is the incentive to buy and knock down. I just hope they don’t cram 2 or 3 houses on the lot.

    • Hi GI, I’m pretty sure it’s two-acre zoning on Charcoal Hill. (It is for me around the corner.) With the 2.32 acre lot size (WestportNow) building more than one house would not be possible.

  14. A lot of assuming and hand-wringing going on here. Appying for a permit to demolish is likely just one step the heirs are taking. If they are required to wait 180 days, there is plenty of time for a willing buyer to purchase the home and remodel, expand or live in it as is. The media attention here and at WestportNow may help find that buyer. If no one wants to save the house, a builder or teardown buyer won’t have to wait a full 6 months and won’t have the uncertainty down the road.
    I’ve said this before – none of us know the owner’s situation and it is a bit cruel to impose our “wants” over their needs. Further, Frazier Peter’s own home on Charcoal Hill has been on and off the market for the last few years, and no one has stepped forward to purchase it. It takes a unique buyer willing to forego modern features that we take for granted today.
    Finally – just because a home sits beautifully on the property or has some provenance doesn’t mean it is livable or marketable. Dan highlighted the home at 108 Cross Highway to great hue and cry. No one has stepped in to save it or remodel. Many of these older homes have seriously low (like duck walking through the doorways low) ceilings, no basements, old wiring etc. There is no easy fix for that.
    I always hope someone will want to purchase and save these character homes and especially save the landscape, but I don’t castigate the owners, who likely know best and certainly don’t want the town to further limit the rights of property owners.

    • Points well made. I will concede that when an old house, owned by significant members of our community is being considered for demolition, it’s an emotional issue. There are likely more factors here than are being considered by many, myself included.

  15. Elise Russi

    Natalie’s family has NOT sold the house. According to the Historic Commission, they are apparently the ones who filed the demolition permit. I was told that they would welcome offers in writing from anyone seriously interested in purchasing the property. It is for sale but not listed on MLS. The owners/executors are listed in the Westport online land records.

  16. Can someone tell me what the point is of the Westport Historic District Commission application? It is just to add 180 days to the process and give some “breathing room” before tear-down for parties to reconsider/someone to step in? More importantly does this cost tax payer money? If they ALWAYS say yes – then what a waste……

  17. Stone is not good insulation – add that to the list of work needed.

  18. Kathie and Scott Bennewitz

    It is also a potential double loss of Westport cultural heritage. In 2006 at the Westport Arts Awards Frazier Peters was added to the town’s Heritage Roll for his contributions to architecture and in 2012 before her passing Natalie Maynard was given the Arts Awards’ highest honor, a Lifetime Achievement Award for music.

  19. Old and Grey

    Oh boy…here we go again. Buy the house if you want to preserve it..otherwise button your lip.

  20. If the family is really interested in selling the house, they should list it and get it on the MLS. Otherwise it’s nothing more than a well kept secret. Who knows, there could be a Frazier Peters house lover just chomping at the bit to buy and restore it?

    In the meantime, with so many Frazier Peters’ houses in the Charcoal Hill area, as well as other antique and vintage homes, the neighbors should get busy and establish a Local Historic District as John McCarthy suggests. It’s the only way to protect historic houses and neighborhoods. Charcoal Hill is the perfect neighborhood for such an important undertaking, since it’s rich with architectural history, and would easily qualify.

  21. Someone who loves this town

    Why do people move to Westport, where there are many old, charming homes, just to tear down a place? Why not move to a town that has exclusively new homes so their $3mm home will feel right at home? There are many, many Westporters who already own a lovely home [so won’t be buying another] and love to drive through town and look at the “streetscape” and ambiance of the variety of homes. Anonymous who so loudly and constantly proclaims the right of people with money to do whatever they want isn’t considering the COMMUNITY we live in! It takes a village to keep a town livable, attractive and full of caring, activist residents. Just because one CAN tear down whatever they want, is that the kind of community they wish to live in? Yep, I guess they do want selfish, arrogant neighbors to match their own personalities.

  22. Jamie Walsh

    To the previous anonymous poster…thank God for caring activist….they tend to get things done and rarely hide behind anonymous posts!

  23. My Grandfather Frazier Peters had a real passion for his houses. Frazier helped my Mother and father build a house of stone but when the next addition was not built in stone he refused to visit the house aver again. I am sure Frazier would turn his nose up at my wooden house. Too bad I can never own one of his homes.
    Anne Kerr
    Castleton Va

  24. When I first moved to Westport in the mid-70s and thought to buy a house here, it was a Frazier Forman Peters’ house that caught my eye and heart. It was close to Westport, but over the line, in Wilton. And although my offer was, by a little, the highest one, it was turned down by the sellers in favor of a buyer from New Canaan — who was downsizing from her own just-sold Frazier Peters home. It seemed I had tried to enter a very select group! I recently helped proof the new book co-authored by Peters’ architect granddaughter and in reading it, was only captivated anew by the beauty and functionality of these homes. Perhaps there’s a sentimental yearning here to be a part of an earlier time, when the design of a home’s interior reflected a family’s simpler life; when a house could be and was “married” to its land; and concepts of “sustainability” predated the word. I guess there are many of us who would like to see this Frazier Peters’ building — a shared community treasure — not “bite the dust.”

  25. Does anyone know why they want to tear it down?

    • Elise Russi

      The Maynard estate does not particulary want to tear it down and they have not yet sold it. It has not transferred. It is for sale and anyone is free to make the executors a written offer. The house need not be torn down if a purchaser steps forward to preserve it.

      • David J. Loffredo

        Since it’s not listed on MLS, what will they be willing to sell it for? Let’s get it sold on Woog’s blog – can’t one of our Realtor readers make some inquiries and report back?

  26. Anonymous….nice peanut gallery commentary…anonymous and equally obnoxious as well…no guts no glory…no activism…no results…remember that and you have an “active day”!

  27. It’s a little misguided to always blame the “wealthy” for teardowns. Most of these properties are purchased by developers. True that they sell the new homes to wealthy people, but those buyers rarely ever know about the history of the property. Ask a realtor, many wealthy people buy newer homes because they don’t have time to deal with fixing up an older home.

    Nobody ever seems to blame the pre-developer owners for teardowns, but that is where the “blame” should often lie. In this situation, it’s apparently even more the case, since it’s the family who has owned the property since 1947 that has applied for the permit.

    While I too would prefer that houses like this be saved, I’m very much against forcing an owner to do so.

    Why don’t all you people who speak so passionately about saving old homes actually do something about it, rather than just complain. Here are some thoughts to get you started:

    First, register your own home as a Local Historic Property. McCarthy can probably tell you how. The HDC should allow almost any home to get this designation (raised ranches, etc. since they are all linked to the history of the town).

    Second, get involved with the Historical District to identify all the gems in Westport. [By the way, I think the Historical District should stop giving out plaques and honoring homeowners who do not designate their homes and Local Historic Properties.]

    Next, assemble like-minded volunteers to create an incentive for the homeowners of these gems to designate their homes as LHPs. I’d recommend finding an architect who will work for free, a realtor who will agree to sell the property when it comes up for free, and some contractors who will donate their time to help preserve these homes. I’d also organize and lobby the town to give some tax incentives as well. It’s a lot of work, it’s better than just complaining on blogs.

  28. Susan Walton Wynkoop

    One of the stated missions of the Westport Historical Society is to increase awareness of the importance of preserving our Town’s heritage and its historic buildings and landmarks. We can aid in achieving this by letting the public know who to contact and/or how to help in this mission.
    Through the process designed by the Westport Historic District Commission we will add our support in trying to save this property from demolition. As one of our past Presidents stated, “Ownership of an historic house is not an accident: it is a privilege and a choice that brings with it certain responsibilities, both to the prior owners who have sustained it through many eras of change, adversity and ‘progress’, and to the community it honors by providing daily visual reminders of a proud, shared American heritage.”
    SUSAN WALTON WYNKOOP
    PRESIDENT, WESTPORT HISTORICAL SOCIETY

    • Anon Plaque

      Since we are quoting, here is how the Fifth Ammendment ends: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

      The restrictions which the Town keeps adding to old homes is indeed a “taking” for public use. The value of my home is lower with these restrictions. My property rights are lower now than when I bought my home. I suggest we get rid of these ridiculous demolition delays for all homes in Westport that are not part of a historic district.

    • As a matter of practice, would the Westport Historical Society pressed for these homeowners to have their home designated as a Local Historic Property?

      The Westport Historical Society is great, but maybe there needs to be a Westport Preservation Society with a sole mission of saving historic properties?

  29. Since so few home owners in this town do more than look out for themselves and their wallet,s it is no surprise that all varieties of injustices happen. The town officials work to make the wealthy tax payers happy and then point the finger at other departments to blame every atrocity that happens. Until this town is run by people who care, the people currently running P+Z, ZBA, and PWD will ruin any charm and fail to preserve any land that is left, as their jobs are to follow town code that nobody works to alter. Blame yourselves or work to change the rules that the monkeys are just follwing to earn their paychecks.

  30. Wendy Crowther

    There seems to be two increasing trends in Westport. One is to bypass putting a house on the market by going right to the tear-down developers in hopes of a quick, direct sale. The other is for the current owner (often an heir or someone who doesn’t actually LIVE in the house) to apply for a demo permit the moment the house is put on the market, if not before. By starting the demo-delay-countdown-clock early, developers or teardown buyers are attracted to the site quickly. By the time the negotiations and closing take place, and the new house plans are drawn up, the 180-day delay has elapsed and the demo equipment can be on the the property on day 181.

    I find these trends disturbing because it doesn’t give the house, or any potential buyer who might be interested in its history, quirkiness, or character, a chance to get in the game. The turn-around is too quick and the exposure is too small. No “save” is possible.

    Dave Matlow and his “Teardown of the Day” feature in WestportNow has helped point out how prolific the teardown mentality is in Westport. And we historic types will continue to be horrified by what we see, especially because it’s rare that these wheels, once in motion, can be stopped.

    Most developers aren’t interested in restoration. It’s a much quicker and cleaner job to tear down a house and start over rather than retrofit it. Many buyers, especially monied ones, are uninterested in acquiring something “used.” Creating their own, unique, custom mansion is the status symbol du jour.

    The only thing that was able to temporarily put the brakes on teardowns was the recession. As the economy improves, Westport will see an uptick in teardown applications and we’ll continue to lose some of our historic heritage, house by house.

    I wish I COULD buy each of the endangered homes that Dan and Dave Matlow have highlighted. I wish I COULD sensitively restore each of them to appeal to modern families who could then appreciate them as much as I do. But I don’t have that sort of bankroll. I own a simple, little 1920 farmhouse, which has now become a relic in Westport. Though I love all 1400 square feet of my house’s quaint, comfortable, intimate, historic charm, and I intend to grow old in it, I sadly must come to grips with the idea that it too will be demolished someday, unless Westport becomes a ghost town of McMansions, or the cost of energy goes through those multi-gabled roofs. No matter what, I’ll do my best to protect this baby of mine, and will also preserve the stories of the many families that have lived here before me (I’ve researched them all). I won’t let this place go down on my watch. If I win the lottery, I’ll save the others too.

    • Wendy,

      Why wouldn’t you seek Local Historic Property designation for your property? Wouldn’t this protect your home from becoming a tear down?

      • Wendy Crowther

        Thanks, JD. Yes, it would provide some protection. However, I’m not certain it would qualify for this designation for a number of reasons. One reason is that some alterations were made over the years by former owners that might disqualify it (e.g. it was formerly a clapboard house but is now shingled). However, my research into its former owners is an attempt to build a case toward some sort of helpful historic status, particularly as it relates to a much larger property it was once associated with. It’s a work in progress, alive and well on my desk. Thanks for your interest and for the suggestion that might help others as well.

        • I sincerely wish you luck on this. If there were some sort of Westport Preservation Society, you could probably structure an agreement with it that would legally prevent future owners from tearing down the house: maybe a real lawyer could comment on this.

          If the Historical Society won’t qualify your home, then a preservation society is really something that the town could use.

  31. It’s not the Westport we remember anymore, it changed a long time ago. Still a lovely town – longshore, the beach, etc….. McWestport. Too late – it’s done.

    • It all started to go to hell when those greedy rich people put in indoor plumbing and electricity. Before those enhancements, most of the town was full of shit and in the dark.

  32. Since I’ve only lived in Westport for six years, I have no memories of the “Westport that was” and cannot credibly comment on the ever changing environs. And yes, I agree, the owners do have every right to manage the property as they see fit. I imagine it must be very hard for them to see discourse such as the above, knowing they have their own reasons for taking this action and knowing their parents once loved the home so dearly. I am a Realtor and would be happy to help in any way I can, but I suspect the owners have not gone that route for a specific reason and not having a Realtor is not one of them. All that said, I too live in a heavily Frazier Peters populated neighborhood (although not in a Frazier Peters house myself) and I find each and every one of my neighbors’ homes simply stunning in their own way. If any were removed for any reason I would be terribly sad. I feel the same way about this house. If it has to be removed, then it has to be removed, but it will still make me feel incredibly sad…not for any other reason than it’s a really pretty house that was once really special to its owner.

  33. Just take a ride through Fairfield in the Greenfield Hill section, there are so many well preserved 18th, 19th and distinctive 20th century homes. The town of Fairfield as well as many other CT towns such as the ones in Litchfield county, ie Bridgewater, Roxbury, Washington etc. have their old New England charm preserved. Much of Westport already has that fake, set design, Disneyesque look well installed. Just like the garrish flimsy backdrops/set designs these new houses imitate (think Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives), their plastic building materials and crass new designs will not stand the test of time; they will be outdated and broken within five years, having crushed 200 years of history in their wake…

  34. Dinosaur Dad

    We’ve just finished trying to buy a house in Westport. We looked for two years. For what we could spend (roughly $600-$800k) all we could get was old, run-down, and tired – and even then those with decent lots were snapped up by builders and replaced by McMansions. The charm, diversity, and personality that was once Westport has been replaced. Pull up the drawbridge, lock the gate. Money rules.

    • My mother’s familiy began spending summers in Westport the 1920’s. Many of the houses in the Compo beach area were not winterized. Times change. For a town that claims to be “progressive” there is much whining about change and longing for the past.

      The busybodies who would restrict the rights of others, should remember that some one builds those houses they don’t like, people are employed in the construction process; jobs are created. But then what to the busybodies care; the have theirs and screw everybody else.

    • Whining is Whining

      Not sure what Interested Reader is talking about, but Dino Dad sounds like a childish whiner: “I want to live in Westport so badly, but it’s too expensive, so it must be a greedy, soulless town”. Dino Dan, there are nice homes to be had in Westport for $800k: you’re just being unrealistic or maybe you’re someone who is overly concerned about keeping up with the Joneses.

      Hopefully one of the other whiners who have become disgusted with what Westport has become will leave town and demonstrate how they aren’t greedy by selling you their house at well below market rates.

      I’m not trying to silence anyone here, but the whining is just annoying.

  35. interested reader

    It’s really too bad that the “whining” is used at the drop of a dime on Dan’s blog. It speaks volumes about the new attitudes that have infiltrated Westport. No one is whining just because they see things differently from you — Emma and the other anonymous posters here. Being derisive, greedy and rude is why Westport is being ruined. There’s far more to Westport than money and mcmansions. Or there used to be. It had is own unique culture, great feeling, much more of a mix of folks and a beauty all its own including some wonderful older homes, and that’s being lost – so allow people their emotions about that before the bulldozers move in.

    Those of us who remember what Westport was and how great it was do lament its loss — not of just the older charming and more HUMBLE houses but the soul of the town that is being distinctly changed if not totally lost. Thanks to Dino Dad and others here who really care that Westport not be turned into a place that no one wants to live other than those always using the lovely word “whining” hoping to mock those who care into silence. I’ve never seen a blog where the word “whine” pops up so frequently. I think there are more gracious and mature words to use – don’t you? Perhaps consult with one of the “old timers” here on the blog who really cares –yes even about some of the older houses in Westport . Old timers here seem to take the care and time to search out words that express their views without mocking another and perhaps they like dictionaries –there seem to be some genuine wordsmiths hanging around this blog, thankfully. Oh wait, am I whining too?

    • Yes. And looking backward. And wanting to restrict the choices of others to suit your preferences. I have lived in Westport since 1978. One characteristic of the town that has not changed is the willingness of the residents to gripe (whine) about the choices made by their neighbors. Your attempt to claim the high ground is laughable, what is more derisive than the term mmansion. Who is more bigoted than those who claim that the newbies are derisive, greedy, and rude ?

      The the resistence to change on the part of many; justfied by a claim to higher standards and pristine moitives is not sustainable. The greedy are those who want something for nothing.

  36. Above all, let’s not forget that my new novel SPACE CASE is available on Amazon, and I’ll be speaking at the library on June 6 …

  37. former Westporter

    My father grew up in Fairfield, I, along with my five sisters grew up in Westport and we all saw the changes. Change and progress are “good” things, and inevitable for a town to survive, however I don’t feel the overall changes in Westport are “good”. Money definitely rules the roost there. Because of those undesirable changes, not one member of my family lives there anymore, including either of my parents and we are all living a very comfortable and happy lives elsewhere. We call it NY creeping up the CT shoreline because it is working it’s way slowly where I now live on the southeast CT shore. It is lovely here with lots of waterfront, culture, and money however MONEY doesn’t rule the roost here! It is a better place to raise my children where values replace what money can just buy.

  38. Enough Whining

    Not sure what Interested Reader is talking about, but Dino Dad sounds like a childish whiner: “I want to live in Westport so badly, but it’s too expensive, so it must be a greedy, soulless town”. Dino Dan, there are nice homes to be had in Westport for $800k: you’re just being unrealistic or maybe you’re someone who is overly concerned about keeping up with the Joneses.

    Hopefully one of the other whiners who have become disgusted with what Westport has become will leave town and demonstrate how they aren’t greedy by selling you their house at well below market rates.

    I’m not trying to silence anyone here, but the whining is just annoying.

  39. Whining about whining is one of the most annoying things on the Internet, Belittling comments by calling them whining is cliched and childish. And yeah, I admit it, I’m whining about whining about whining.

    • Enough Whining

      Touche, Jake A.

      It’s a good reminder to try to find the positive in people and situations. It’s easy to get into a negative mood; and once that happens, you can find fault in anything.

      Have a good weekend all.

  40. Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!