About That YMCA “Eno Path”

Last month, I posted a story about an odd plaque in the Westport Y.

Placed near the stairs by the pool, it honored the “William Phelps Eno Memorial Pedestrian Mall.” Inquiring minds wondered not who Eno was — every Westporter knows he’s the Westport businessman and traffic safety pioneer who “invented” the stop sign, pedestrian crosswalk, traffic circle, 1-way street, taxi stand and pedestrian safety island — but rather, what’s up with that “memorial pedestrian mall.”

Here’s a partial answer. It’s straight from Jay Sherwood. Yes, of the Sherwoods.

He says:

I grew up at 26 Church Lane (now the Spotted Horse). My bedroom faced the street, and the 3 homes across it.

35 Church Lane -- the Krellen house, now called the Gunn House --was just outside Jay Sherwood's bedroom window.

35 Church Lane — the Krellen house, now called the Gunn House –was just outside Jay Sherwood’s bedroom window.

At Elm and Church Lane was Mr. Krellen’s (sp?), home, which still stands. Next was the Lewis home. In the 1940s and ’50s it was occupied by Miss Lewis (who ran the Educational Toy Store, where Metro Swim later was) and her mother. Next to that was a home with a beauty salon on the 1st floor.

In those days I could peer between the Lewis and Krellen homes, and see the hills west of the Saugatuck (Old Hill section) until Klein’s Stationery built its addition.

The Y grew in size too. First to fall (late ’60s?) was the beauty salon. Then the Lewis home made way for the Weeks Pavilion in the late ’70s. There was supposed to be an outdoor walk from the parking lot off Elm Street to Church Lane. I remember an artist’s rendition of it. But next thing I knew, the “path” was inside the new building (which was built right up to the property line).

The William Phelps Eno plaque.

The William Phelps Eno plaque.

I do not know why there was a change in plans. Perhaps the owners of 35 Church Lane did not want an open public walkway so close to their property. Funny though:  Kids and even older folk always trespassed onto 35 Church, between Church Lane and the parking area in the rear. Either the “Y” was closed or they simply wanted to walk outside. They created havoc with the stone retaining wall. The problem continued until 35’s owners put up a fence along the parking area.

One response to “About That YMCA “Eno Path”

  1. David A. Waldman

    Very interesting post. As one of the new owners of the Westport YMCA and soon to be “Bedford Square” project, I can shed some light on the “memorial pedestrian mall.” You are correct that the path ended up inside the building and is now only accessible to the public when the Y was opened (clearly not the intention of the original path). Just last week my partners and I asked the Board Of Selectmen to allow us to relocate the internal path to a new exterior location. This was required because the path is actually a pedestrian easement which falls under the Selectmen’s duties. The newly designed Bedford Square will celebrate the “memorial pedestrian mall” as it was originally intended. Upon completion of project, Westport residents and visitors from all around will be able to walk from Elm Street to a central public piazza and at that point can proceed to either Church Lane or Main Street . If you would like to see the plans of the new path please visit http://www.bedfordsquare.com

    I was unaware if was named after Mr. Eno but can assure you that the new path will adorn his name (and plaque) and remain accessible and open to the public 24/7.

    I guess what is sometimes old and forgotten can and will be new again and even better.