The stretch of Hillspoint Road from Hales Road to Old Mill is not an official historic district. But plenty of older, handsome homes line both sides of the street, as it dips gently from I-95 and the railroad down to Elvira’s.
For a long time, a “demolition” sign seemed to doom 158 Hillspoint Road. But the other day, Fred Cantor — who in addition to being an alert “06880” reader is also a very alert neighbor — noticed the sign was gone.
He spotted contractors’ trucks on site. So on one of his walks he talked to a next door neighbor, and a worker. Both confirmed that the home was sold, and will stay.
Score one for preservation!
Fred is not content to just spread the good news. He also passes along the history he’s dug up.
According to tax assessor records, Fred says, the original portion of the home was built in 1803.
Fred found information from former owner Sue Braley on WestportNow in 2013, when it was first slated for demolition. Sue — who sold it in 1996 — said it was originally an outbuilding of the Sherwood House at 160 Hillspoint, then modified for human occupation in the early part of the 20th century, when artists and others began coming to Westport for the summer.
Oral tradition claims that it was a tea room for the tourists, perhaps operated by Edith Very Sherwood, who lived at 160 and was the Westport librarian. (A subsequent owner was) Richard Seyffert, a portrait and landscape painter who began construction of the studio toward the rear of the property.
Felice Holman Valen (the author of over 20 children’s books, including “Elisabeth and the Marsh Mystery” and others clearly inspired by the nearby mill pond) and Herbert Valen (who worked in advertising and later as a “gag” writer for the New Yorker) owned the property from 1955 to the late 1980s.
Westport’s old homes are disappearing at an alarming rate. How nice to read of at least one that escaped a very imminent wrecking ball.