Westfair Village: Westport’s Throwback Neighborhood

Right after World War II, local real estate developer B.V. Brooks Sr. built Westfair Village for beneficiaries of the GI bill.

Located on an old onion farm directly behind Westfair Shopping Center — Brooks’ strip mall opposite what is now Stop & Shop — Westfair Village’s circular streets featured modest Capes on 1/3-acre lots. He named the roads “Westfair” and “Fairport” — combinations of Westport and nearby Fairfield — as well as “Dexter” (the nickname of his son, B.V. Jr.) and “Brook” (presumably short for his own last name).

In the nearly 70 years since then, Westfair Village has seen many changes. Homeowners added 2nd floors, rebuilt their interiors, and enlarged their small houses. Some became teardowns, replaced by bigger homes (though none qualify as “McMansions”). Large trees provide shade, on once-open lots.

Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)

Westfair Drive today. (Photo/Google Maps)

But 7 decades have not changed one element of Westfair Village. It is still a true neighborhood. Mothers push babies in strollers. Kids ride bikes. Folks take after-dinner walks. Everyone looks out for each other.

There are block parties, holiday parties, and welcome-to-Westfair parties.

In a 21-century touch, there’s also an active website through which residents share news, advice, and recommendations for doctors, lawn services and babysitters.

John DeLibero bought his house in 1983, for $102,000. The other day, he and his partner Ron Johnson invited me over to see the neighborhood they love.

John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.

John DeLibero (left) and Ron Johnson in the back yard of their Westfair Village home.

Ron grew up in one of the 1st suburban subdivisions, in Huntington, Long Island. Everyone knew everyone else. There was the same small-town feeling when he lived in Washington, Connecticut.

In Westport, he says, “people lead more independent lives.” John adds, “It’s hard to know your neighbors when you live on a street that everyone races down at 40 miles an hour.”

That’s why they love Westfair Village. No one drives quickly; the streets are too narrow and curved for that.

With houses close together, they really do know everyone else. And it’s a diverse mix: doctors, retirees, actors, financial folks, house painters. Plenty of people work from home.

The neighborhood has gone through cycles. Returning soldiers and their young wives raised families. Kids grew up; some moved away, others bought nearby. The parents stayed — some until they died.

Today the homes are once again filled with young families, just starting out.

One of Westfair Village’s attractions is affordability. Prices rose from $350,000 a decade ago to $1.125 million (new construction) just before the meltdown. Prices for original (rebuilt) homes are still shy of $600,000.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan -- the same in every home -- was reworked.

This home in Westfair Village started out as a Cape. The 2nd floor was added later, and the floor plan — the same in every home — was reworked.

Building lots are another story. Two homes on Brook Lane recently sold for about $2.3 million.

But Brook Lane is on the far edge of Westfair Village. Mostly, it looks not substantially different than it has for the past 70 years.

The homes are a bit bigger. The foliage is lusher.

Yet up and down the circular roads, kids still play, parents still chat, and couples still stroll.

It’s not a place that time forgot.

Just a place where time moves — wonderfully — a bit more slowly.

 

14 responses to “Westfair Village: Westport’s Throwback Neighborhood

  1. Rosemarie Corr

    I grew up on North Bulkley, which provided access to Westfair Village. I probably babysat for at least 15 families in the Village. It was a wonderful neighborhood with great people!

  2. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Many of my friends at Greens Farms School lived in Westfair Village. It was a great neighborhood back then. I skated on Bulkley’s Pond in the winter with all of my Westfair friends. It was a great neighborhood for kids to grow up.

  3. Michael Calise

    Although these lots are now non-conforming due to zone changes these are the type of lot sizes that should be incorporated back into Westport to provide affordable housing through intelligent zoning rather than municipal housing which is taking a foothold in Westport.

  4. Michael Calise

    P.S. Great story Dan

  5. Jack Whittle

    Great story Dan – and there are quite a few of these neighborhoods left in Westport, where neighbors know each other by name, kids still ride bikes up and down the street, and annual block parties are a solemn tradition. Mid-20th century subdivisions on smaller lots seems to be the common thread; the smaller lot size makes them mostly unattractive to tear-downs and the proximity to each other also facilitates a sense of community. These neighborhoods (in the truest sense of the word) make for a wonderful place to raise a family, and enjoy life in a neighborly way.

    Another great example of such a neighborhood is Calumet – Sniffen – Fillow, a subdivision created in the mid 50’s when Loren Sniffen (proprietor of Fillow Florists) sold off the majority of the land used for that operation on Clinton Avenue. Just two floor plans were used – a cape and a split level, each with an attached one-car garage. Over the years many of these homes have been personalized, but (with the exception of just a few) they remain largely intact. (My experience with this particular neighborhood is personal, by the way.)

  6. Kind of reminds me of the old Richmondville Avenue of the 60’s — we had the same thing on that street. Really fun neighborhood.

  7. Catherine Blount

    Sent from my iPhone

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  8. kelley spearen

    Great article Dan !!!!

  9. David J. Loffredo

    4 Fillow Street – great childhood memories – looks like time stood still (for the most part) when I drive up the road today.

  10. Nice piece Dan. These older established neighborhoods are wonderful places. The Westport police often point out the fact that people who live in them more often than not actually know their neighbors – I gather that this is not the norm in some other types of neighborhoods.

  11. Loretta Santella Hallock (Ridge Drive neighborhood)

    Nice story Dan. It was nice when we had neighborhoods!

    • Westport still has real neighborhoods like those you remember – Westfair Village is a great example of one!

  12. Thanks Dan. My family lived in westfair village when I was very young. I still have many memories.