This Old House: Identified!

The whole point of “06880”‘s “This Old House” series is to help the Westport Historical Society in advance of an upcoming exhibit. They’ll be showing great photos of old homes, to illustrate changes in Westport. 

But some images — taken as part of a 1930s WPA project — are hard to identify.

House #4 — posted 10 days ago — has been confirmed. It’s the handsome home of Birchwood Country Club, visible from Kings Highway South. The back of the photo said “Allen (Bailin). Riverside Avenue.”

This Old House - March 25, 2015

WHS house historian Bob Weingarten explains the delay in confirmation:

I need to apologize to your readers, especially Marc Isaacs; Jill Turner Odice, who agreed with Marc, and Neil Brickley, who wrote that Marc was correct and  I should re-consider this location.

When I first read Marc’s comments [he said it was originally the Josiah Raymond Inn. and was moved to its present location prior to the 1930’s], I reviewed the Connecticut Historic Resources Inventory. It said the house was built in 1835 by Josiah Raymond. The form identified the location as 25 Kings Highway South, also known as The Birchwood Country Club “Clubhouse.”

The Birchwood Country Club House today.

The Birchwood Country Club House today.

I discounted this as the house for 2 reasons. First, on the back of the WPA 1930s photo the words “Riverside Avenue” appeared and there was no indication from the history that the house was moved.

Second, the photo I had on file was of the front of the house. Although the WPA 1930s photo does show the front, this architectural design was prevalent in houses of the Federal period in Westport.  My mistake was not having a visual view of the side of the building.

After hearing from Neil, I visited the site. With an appropriate photo angle I can visually confirm that the Unknown House #4 is the Birchwood Country Club “Clubhouse.”

Looking at the photo you can see that the front porch does have sidelight windows, the side portion of the building has the same structural elements and windows as identified on the WPA 1930s photo. Too many  elements to be a duplicate built house.

Thanks again to Marc Isaacs, Jill Turner Odice and Neil Brickley.

5 responses to “This Old House: Identified!

  1. Jill Turner Odice

    🙂 Glad they identified it !

  2. Deb Rosenfield

    What I find so fascinating is just how many houses in Westport have been moved. Conjures up the scene from The Shipping News. Does anyone know why a house, back then, would be moved rather than disassembled and the wood reused? Were only houses of historic significance moved or was this practice more or less a common occurrance, say if some land was sold off? Just curious….

  3. Peter Barlow

    The first thing I noticed on the early photo of this house was that it was overloaded with shutters on the upper level. Maybe in those days people actually closed their shutters once in a while, in which case they were useful. Nobody does that anymore – shutters are just decorative or colorful accents. So in the new, present day view, I was delighted at the way the shutters were done – just ONE to a window. Perfectly nice! People obsessed with symmetry may still have reservations, but I like it!

  4. Deb Rosenfield

    I was just reading about shutter styles on the Timberlane website and thought it was interesting that colonials often had solid panel shutters on the first floor and louvered panels on the second floor. Hard to see in the photo above if this house was shuttered in this manner.