This Old House

In the mid-1930s, WPA photographers fanned out around Westport. They shot 133 houses — all, at that point, at least 100 years old.

Eighty years later, the Westport Historical Society is preparing an exhibit, documenting preservation and changes to those even-older-now homes.

WHS logoHouse historian Bob Weingarten found over 90 of the photos in the WHS archives. He’s now curating the exhibit.

But a lot changes in 8 decades. Some of the houses have gone to that great scrap heap in the sky. Others remain — but have been so altered, they’re unrecognizable.

Twelve of the photos have not yet been identified. Bob hopes “06880” can help.

Each Wednesday, we’ll post a photo of one of the unidentified houses. Click “Comments” to let us know where you think it is. If you’ve got a back story, add that too. The more info, the better.

We’ll start next week. In the meantime, here’s a “practice” house.

Lost house 1 - March 4, 2015

It’s still standing — and the WHS and I know where it is. If you do too, click “Comments.” (Hint: It’s changed a lot since the 1930s.)

Then check out “06880” next Wednesday, for our 1st truly “lost” house.

28 responses to “This Old House

  1. Rick Leonard

    Two guesses: 57 Kings Highway North or the Cross Highway home that was almost torn down a couple years ago. Great idea by WHS, can’t wait for this exhibit!

  2. Thinking that same Cross Highway house or another thought on North Avenue used to be a farm…..

  3. Martha Stewart’s “project house” on Long Lots Road?

  4. Baker Avenue near its intersection with Imperial.

  5. Hiilspoint, just north of the school. Number is about 82 or so.

  6. Is this the house on Cross Hwy that there was so much controversy over???

  7. A. David Wunsch

    Dan: Thanks for doing this. I love WPA photography. If possible could you list the photographer?
    A. David Wunsch
    Staples High School 1956

    • I will check. I’m not sure the photographers are listed. By the way, so far no one has come close to identifying the house!

  8. Jackie Fuchs

    Is it Scott and Zelda’s?

  9. Morley Boyd

    I gathering that this was a guest house when the WPA photographer came along. Except for the setting, it sure looks the Levi Downs House – which is now Tavern on Main. Was that building moved?

  10. sandy johnson

    I also think Cross Highway house

  11. Dorothy Abrams


  12. on canal street

  13. Jack Farrell

    Can the WHA put them all up and not identify their location? You can run a daily contest and see who comes with the most correct locations. The winner gets a free subscription to ‘06880’
    Have them do one a day?

    • We’re doing one a week. And everyone gets a free subscription to “06880” — unless you want to chip in a donation!

  14. Kathie Bennewitz

    Thank you for this great article –and a second serie of guessing games–for bob’s show. It’s a great community outreach for building exhibitions!!

  15. Sharon Paulsen

    On Riverside Ave., near what was Bedford Jr. High, or perhaps up a side street a bit, nearer to Kings Highway Elementary??

  16. The McLaury House—Myrtle Ave at corner of Avery Place?

  17. Christopher Saxe

    87 Partrick Road?

  18. So many different guesses! I’m guessing it’s in Westport! So do I win a prize yet?
    (I’d be really embarrassed if it were MY house — a Coley house from the early 1800s)

  19. Is that a sign to the right of the front door? And can it be read on the original image?

  20. “Morehouse” at beginning of Woodside.

  21. This is where Tavern on Main is located. It was formerly a school house. It was also the home of illustrators Robert and Marie Lawson who lived in Westport. All credit to my wife if this is correct.

  22. Wendy Crowther

    I agree with Morley Boyd – Levi Downs house. I’ve seen all the Westport WPA photos. They’re fantastic. I think I may have also seen this house represented in more graphic form in the old Westport Directories (but I’m guessing on this). It may have been in the form of an advertisement because the sign by the front door looks familiar. I’m thinking it was a curiosity shop or had something to do with fabrics. Darn – can’t remember.

    Love this idea, especially for the houses that are not labelled (most of the WPA photos ARE labelled). There may be someone out there whose grandma lived in one of them. It would be great to get them identified.

  23. Wilton Road, across from Partrick Road ?

  24. Kevin Martin

    I’m with Dan Aron. It is the original building that is today Tavern on Main.

  25. To follow up on my comment yesterday, the oval sign says, I think, something to the effect that guest rooms are available for rent. If the structure is, as I suspect, the Levi Downs House (Tavern on Main), it must have been moved a bit and/or set atop a new rubble foundation as the grade and setting seem completely different. In the 1920’s and 30’s buildings in the downtown area shuffled about with some regularity (Spotted Horse, Red Cross, Avery medical building, Christ and Holy Trinity parsonage (now up on Compo North, I think), the (lost) house on Gorham Island, the houses in the back of Colonial Green, etc.). What couldn’t be moved in whole was deconstructed and used in new construction (houses on Violet Lane).