Saying Goodbye To The Bedford Estate

The Bedfords giveth.

And the Bedfords taketh away.

One of the town’s most philanthropic families — think the YMCA, schools, the Westport Woman’s Club and much, much more — has long owned property on Beachside Avenue.

But Ruth Bedford died last June, at 99. Now her estate, at 66 Beachside, is slated for demolition.

Bedford demo

The sign notes that 3 buildings are intended to be torn down. All are 114 years old.

The Bedford family also owns a 2-story house at 225 Green’s Farms Road, opposite the Nyala Farms office complex. It too was built in 1900.

And it too is slated for demolition.

33 responses to “Saying Goodbye To The Bedford Estate

  1. Peter Jennings Talbot

    Why?

  2. The Bedford family has made their mark on this town in many ways. Their impact will be felt forever. 🙂

  3. Jane Johngren

    I can’t believe it! I spent my childhood living on Beachside Avenue – my father took care of the grounds of a different Bedford estate and we therefore lived in a tiny apartment over their three-car garage. That family was hardly ever there, but somehow my mother met Ruth Bedford, who was the nicest person, to everyone. It may have been Ruth who allowed us access to another beach on the road, since “ours” was not swim-friendly. I was never in the big Bedford house or on the grounds, and I imagine its current condition may not be good, but this is tragic. Was this action stated as part of her will? Can nothing be done?

  4. Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

    How many were there when the REAL Bedford estate on Beachside was torn down. It was the first private house I had ever seen with elevators.

  5. What a shame that these great old properties are to be demolished. No doubt there will be huge, hulking hedge-fund monied castles going up in their stead as Westport continues to do its makeover from a lovely New England architected town to a generic display of new wealth and nondescript demonstrations of financial achievement.

  6. What a depressing, wasteful and culturally ignorant approach.

  7. I’ve been in Ruth Bedford’s house many times. The house that she lived in she told me was the carriage house for her grandfather’s estate.

    • Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

      Jack, that is correct. The link above has photos of the original mansion on the corner. I went to the clean out auction with my Mom sometime in the 60’s right before it was demolished. What a place.

  8. Dan, are you privy to who bought this estate? What a pity! Someone who can afford this can afford to keep the main house.

    Leigh gage

    • Bruce Fernie - SHS 1970

      Leigh, The main house was demolished in the 60’s. The house to be demolished now is the carriage house… a really nice one.

    • Dick Lowenstein

      The posted sign says the demolition application may be examined in the Building Official’s office (presumably in the Post Road Fire Dept. HQ). It should have an applicant’s name, whether personal or corporate.

  9. Mary Maynard

    Everywhere I go, there’s a garish, too big, cliché of a house that takes no influence from the land or the town “they” plant it in. Why spend millions on a house that has no individuality? Mindless, greedy builders and unthinking buyers. Now it will happen on Beachside. mmm

  10. My only comment is “Why”?

  11. Mary Maynard

    Greed, Margarita, GREED. mmm

  12. I know that many people in our town are lauded for their preservationist endeavors. It is so sad to lose such meaningful landmarks from our history.

  13. Notice of Lament To Demolish; my town lets itself (be) evicerat(ed).

  14. I don’t have a position one way or another about the demolition of these houses as I have no knowledge about them and whether they are worthy of preserving (architecturally, structurally, functionally, etc). I will go out on a limb, however, and guess that they, or the original homes they relate to, were very much the equivalent of today’s hedge-fund mega-mansions. Are people seriously lamenting the demolition of robber baron estates because they may or may not be replaced by a hedgie mansion? I appreciate and support appropriate preservation and site-sensitive development and density, but in this case the cries of “whoa is us” fall on particularly deaf ears. By the way, my 11 year old son wants a new iPhone 6. If anyone out there has one, he has a 1989 Motorola analog flip phone to trade. It’s a single-owner, well-maintained, charming antique with a well-worn patina that can’t be replicated.

  15. sandy johnson

    It certainly is a shame that the original town of Westport where I came to live some 30 years ago is now going the way of the many other non descript mansion type towns = nothing like the old New England lovely towns. Guess I’m just getting old and hate to see the loveliness of “old New England” go the way of what I consider the ugly huge show off mansions!

  16. Unless someone wants to keep Ruth’s house as a guest house the real value is the land. After the old estate was demolished many years ago her land is a long rectangle coming off Beachside. What she really loved was the lawn, known as the “emerald lawn”. Henry & Jim have done a wonderful job maintaining it!!!

    Sitting and sharing a scotch with Ruth Bedford was both a wonderful experience and an education.

  17. Westport is really becoming like so many other towns that all just kind of blend together. Oversized McMansions with so many dizzying architectural details that are capable of causing vertigo if you stare at them to long! Many new homeowners seem incapable of taking an older existing structure and creatively adapting it in a tasteful way for modern living. They seem to want big, new and shiny.

    • Jamie, you are 100% right. This property is a bit different. Whoever buys this will probably put up a true mansion. Not a McMasion. The buildings are close to the road and the lot goes way back.

  18. jerrymacdaid

    Righteous indignation? Seriously? Where was the outcry over this house: http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2_5/comments/westportnow_teardown_of_the_day_16_sunrise_road/ ? Or this one: http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2_5/comments/52599/ ? Or this one: http://www.westportnow.com/index.php?/v2_5/comments/52544/ ?

    Oh…you saw the pictures. You were not impressed. They weren’t “special”…just old. This house, however, is really old. Well, not Revolutionary War old, or even Civil War old. But older than most of us. So even though you haven’t seen it (the picture is about right for what most people can see), it must be a horrible mistake to take it down. Oh the humanity!

    Guess what. I have seen it. Not the inside, but I have seen the outside. Not my taste (and probably not most of the poster’s here either) and, as posted above, the real landmark estate house was torn down years ago. This was just the carriage house. Google the listing – they barely show pictures of the house because there is no point as that is not what will sell this property.

    By the way, it is a lovely house, but nothing special except probably to Ruth Bedford and perhaps others who shared memories with her. But special for the memories, not because the house is some architectural landmark or specimen. Special just like the three houses above would be to families that lived there but that no one seems to be mourning.

    As for the horrors of a McMansion: NEWS FLASH KIDS- this isn’t a half acre lot where an out of proportioned house will be built. It’s a 7 acre waterfront property where, guess what, mansions are built. Always were, always will be. If anything, it will bring back some of the grandeur of Westport beachfront property. And, guess what, just like the current house, you probably won’t be able to see whatever is built there either.

    This property is not even close to making the list of things that anyone should get worked up about…even if “town character” is at the top of your list.

  19. Jerry…. You are correct in that the people who are going to build on this lot will probably build a structure worthy of the lot it will stand on. I was not comparing the McMansions to what will be built on this property…simply that many architecturally pleasant and older structures that embrace character are being thrown in the dumpster for ….well…not so attractive structures that all kind of look the same.

  20. I am so disgusted and discouraged by the teardown mania in this town. I am left with such a helpless feeling. As we stand by and watch, the very fabric of our town is being demolished along with these old homes.

  21. I like the people Michael, but I also like the architectural and visual character of the town which is changing into another homogenous styled community.

  22. Lois Ann Lovejoy Johnson

    I attended with my mother, Lois Sherwood Lovejoy, the wedding of Lucie Cunningham and Stuart McKinney at the estate in the 1960’s. Yes, a shame to see the homes demolished, but this is 2015 and change is inevitable. After all, change is the constant in our lives.

  23. I used to live on the “wrong side” of Beachside Ave, growing up in the 1950s. Friends of mine were the sons of caretakers on the estates. We used to fish off the Bedford’s dock and spend many days wandering up and down the beach fronts.

    What was fascinating was that many of these houses, run by servants, were ‘open’ all the time, since there were constant comings and goings by staff and service people. As kids, we used to wander in and out of them without once being bothered.

    Think of it, my divorced mother was able to buy a house on Beachside Ave, on a secretary’s salary.