In its 3 decades of existence, Remarkable Book Shop made a remarkable impact on Westport.
As Mitchells celebrates its 55th anniversary, we marvel that the 4th generation of family members waits in the wings.
But those 2 town institutions have the life spans of fruit flies, compared to Gault.
Westport’s oldest family-owned business is 150 years young this year.
You want a historical reference? It was founded two years before Abraham Lincoln won his battle to pass the 13th Amendment. You know — that ancient event Steven Spielberg is about to win multiple Oscars for.
On Thursday, the company will kick off a year-long anniversary celebration. They’ll find many ways to honor their heritage — moving from a one-horse and wagon hauling enterprise, through freight hauling, grain threshing, seed supplies and lumber to coal, masonry supplies, home heating oil, and now biofuel, propane, electricity and standby generators — along with their century and a half of commitment to Westport.
While the details of the “150 Years of Community” celebration are hush-hush, one item is significant. The press event will be held at the Gault family’s historic Compo Road South barn.
You’ve driven past the barns a jazillion times — they’re on the right, a half mile or so from the Post Road as you head to the beach.
But you may not know — I sure didn’t — that they are historic structures. Their timber frame construction reflects the building traditions of American farming.
A Connecticut Trust researcher says, “the Gault family showed uncommon ingenuity by integrating a variety of materials from their lines of business, including brick and stone masonry, into the barns to create a truly unique complex.”
The barns have endured since the time when wagons gave way to automobiles. That was the early 20th century — and the Gault company had already been around as long as Mario’s has now been a Westport fixture.
While many Westport barns have, um, bought the farm, the Gault family used theirs in evolving ways — to “support and take advantage of changes in the community over time, from dairy farming to lumber and feed grain, to coal and home heating delivery.”
The Gault barns are prized by historians and curators for their architectural bones and historical narrative. They’ve been lovingly preserved and maintained.
In fact, says the Connecticut Trust, they’re among the Top 10 historically significant barns in the state.
Big deal. The Gault family — and their company — have been #1 in service to Westport for decades longer than those barns have even existed.