A Teardown On Sharp Turn

One of WestportNow’s most popular features is its “Teardown of the Day.”

Usually they’re old, and ready for demolition. Sometimes they’re not.

But regardless of age and condition, every home has a story. Here’s Kathy Henson’s.

She and her husband Bill have lived at 3 Sharp Turn Road since 1973. They’re only the 2nd owners of the house, on a small street off Whitney. They bought it after Ruth Williams, a Westport teacher, died.

3 Sharp Turn Road. (Photo by Dave Matlow)

3 Sharp Turn Road. (Photo by Dave Matlow)

Kathy is a 3rd generation Westporter. Her great-grandfather was caretaker of the sanitarium — the enormous building, originally a home, at the center of what is now Winslow Park. Her grandfather was the first motorcycle state policeman in Connecticut; her grandmother was Westport’s first female postman.

Kathy’s grandfather started Charlie’s Electric Store. Her father renamed it Quigley Electric, after his family. Her husband and a partner later bought the shop.

Bill’s family had a farm on Green’s Farms Road. The house is still there. It was once featured in Good Housekeeping.

Kathy and Bill knew each other since she was 11, and he was 13. They started dating 3 years later, as students at Wright Tech in Stamford. They married 4 years after that.

(Photo by Dave Matlow)

(Photo by Dave Matlow)

The Hemsons raised 2 girls on Sharp Turn Road. Kathy’s mother moved in in 1980. She lived there until she died, nearly 3 decades later.

“We have a lot of memories,” Kathy says.

The Hemsons sold their house because they’re downsizing. They’ll move to Bill’s family home on St. John’s Place, near Town Hall. Bill sold his business, and now it’s time to relax.

The Hemsons will split time between Westport, and a home they own in Vermont.

When the Hemsons bought their Sharp Turn Road house, it had 4 rooms. They added a few more, but have not remodeled since.

They knew when it went on the market that it would be torn down.

“Everyone wants big houses,” Kathy says. “This isn’t big.”

Sharp Turn Road is on Whitney Street, just south of Webb Road. Across the street are Witch Lane and Peaceful Lane.

Sharp Turn Road is on Whitney Street, just south of Webb Road. You can see it is aptly named, at the end of the street.

The Hemsons had plenty of good times on Sharp Turn. Both daughters’ friends often gathered there. “We could have 5 people for dinner, or 20,” Kathy recalls. “We never knew.”

On Friday nights, they at outside. Neighbors would wander over for cocktails.

Their oldest daughter — who now lives upstate — was blunt about the impending demolition. “It’ll be like we were never there,” she predicted.

Kathy has mixed feelings. “A lot of people complain about big houses,” she says. “But no one wants to take less for it than they can get. Your retirement is in your house.”

She’s glad she and her husband will remain in Westport. The town, she says, “has been very good to us.”

Besides, she says, a Sharp Turn neighbor told them they could come over any time for drinks.

21 responses to “A Teardown On Sharp Turn

  1. If you would go straight on Sharp Turn (before it makes the turn) you would wind up on Sue Terrace, where I was brought up and my parents still live.

  2. I can only assume this will turn into a firestorm of comments about how Westport is going down the crapper because of “ugly McMansions.” Why, Dan, Why? Oh well. You get what you ask for.

    • Actually, I have not “gotten” anything yet. I posted a story about how a woman who lived in one house for 40 years feels about selling it as a teardown. The word “McMansion” never appeared in the story.

      • And it’s a wonderful story, Dan.

        That comment was more directed at the dozens of anonymous commenters who should be coming out of the woodwork at any moment. Now, looking back at it, I can see why you thought that. I wish you allowed us the option to Edit our comments!

        • Wow — thanks! Much appreciated. I agree — too bad WordPress doesn’t have that option. Many people would appreciate it!

    • It is a tedious discussion divorced from reality. Do you think Dan will ever post an article about some new residents who love their new McMansion ? Of course not; real people don’t live in McMansions. Real people live in 1963 split levels.

      • Oh, Emma. Real people live everywhere. Smile and say hello, they aren’t hard to find.

        • I know that, but I am not the one who stigmatizes those who live in larger homes.

  3. Westporter4ever

    DAN!! Thank you so much for telling Kathy & Bill’s story. They are part of my family too, and I have sooo many memories at their house on Sharp Turn. I spent alot of my childhood there!! Lots and lots of laughs!! I’m selling my house on Roseville…and I am also 3rd generation Wesport…sadly we are a breed on the edge of extinction, as I am no longer living out of town….I’ll let you when it’s sold,maybe you’ll be able to help me tell my story as well! LOL it’s a DOOZY!!

  4. We have used Quigley Electric since we moved to Westport 40 years ago! Bill is a gentleman and a very good electrician/craftsman. He always showed up when he said he would, found the problem, fixed it and left the work area cleaner than when he walked in. I hope he can pass his old time work ethic as well as his “business”to the new owners.

    We wish Kathy and Bill a happy, healthy and fun retirement!!

    • REFERRAL(S) PLEASE!

      Has anyone used the new business owners of Quigley Electric? I’m in need of a good, reliable and reasonable electrician! All referrals appreciated! Thank you!

      • The new owner worked at Quigley for a long time. I think he left to start his own business. If you used them in the 80’s/90’s, you will probably recognize him. Great guy. You won’t be disappointed

  5. Melinda Hemson Dubowsky

    Dan, Thanks for doing such a great story on my parents and their house. It’s a very bitter sweet time. I’m excited for them and their new adventure but very sad that my childhood home will be no longer. I will always have the special memories of that house and of course, Westport.

  6. Estelle Margolis

    I’m glad that Kathy and Bill will now be MY neighbors. This is an open invitation to come have a drink with me at 5 PM. I have worked with Bill for more years than I can count. I hope he has taught some young people to be as good as he was. I told Bill he was too young to retire, but he is very wise to want some really quality time without the demands of his job.
    I wish you both the very best . Estelle

  7. Dinosaur Dad

    Another teardown. While each seems like a drop in the bucket, it just seems like slowly, inexorably, Westport’s character is changing. Whether you think that’s good or bad is your opinion. To me, one of the great things about Westport has always been at least some semblance of economic diversity. I believe that’s going away, teardown by teardown.

    • Westport Delight

      And if those houses were not being bought, no one would build them. So, clearly, there’s a demand for it. And that’s the beauty of free market capitalism. “Economic diversity” is not something you or I can control, Dinosaur. It’s just the way it is.

  8. The Dude Abides

    Hardly a tear jerking story as many good memories in that house. I hope they proceeded pleasantly to the bank wishing only that they had sold in the mid-2000’s.

  9. Dear referrals,, if Quigley Electric has been in Westport that long they have to be Great

  10. New owner is great and highly qualified

  11. Dear Kathy,

    I was a little surprised when I read your comments. My wife and I (+our two young kids), are looking for houses exactly like yours. However, you never gave us a chance to look at it and make you an offer. The house was sold before it was put on the MLS (as soon as it was out our agent contacted yours just to hear that it was sold).

    I can tell you that as long as your house does not have mold or major structural issues, which I believe it does not, we would have offer you more than the asked price on the MLS.

    I am responding to this post so potential sellers like you would at least give me and people like me (those who are not looking for new huge house, but a house like yours) a chance to at least see the property and make an offer.

  12. Kathy Hemson

    First thank you for all your comments. We are very happy with our move and look forward to the future here in Westport. Phil who took over our company is a great guy and Bryan who worked with us is still with the company. If you are looking for a great reasonable home there has been one on 19 Roseville Rd. and a great price. A great family home with a long history. Thank you again for your comments

    Kathy