Like many Westporters, alert “06880” reader Wendy Crowther has been watching the departure of Geiger’s with sorrow.
Unlike most of us, she’s done more than just drive past the former garden center property. Yesterday she wrote:
What you see in the photo below represents about 3 days of work, done in fits and starts.
This morning I saw some people on the roof of the main barn. They appeared to be removing roofing tiles. By noon today they were gone.
Several days ago, guys in hard hats removed a small portion of the roof from the smaller, east addition. Yesterday they removed the rest. Now you can see the supporting rafters.
They appear to be going at a turtle’s pace, which could be a good sign. Hopefully they’ll index/mark everything as they remove it (a good deconstruction process).
I’ve put out feelers to Coastal Development a few times (via P&Z hearings and your blog) in hopes of getting answers to 2 important questions.
1. Have they hired a barn expert to guide them through the deconstruction process? Ordinary builders make terrible mistakes if left to their own devices.
2. How is Coastal Development planning to store the deconstructed pieces until new uses are found? Hopefully it won’t end up in a giant pile under a tarp somewhere.
My heart sinks as I see this barn come down. It has sat in that exact spot for at least 150 years.
Only a few owners lived or worked on the site during all that time. Those owners ranged from the Coley/Burr family (who farmed in the area), to 2 pastors of Greens Farms Church, to the Winterton/Harris family, who lived on the property for 100 years (long enough that the corner was once known as the “Harris Switch” – a trolley stop). Then came the most recent proprietors: Parsell and Geiger.
Westport loses another part of its history as this barn comes down. For some it was an eyesore. For others it was a treasure – a reminder of Westport’s evolution from the days of early settlers and farmers, to those who left New York City in summer and on weekends to escape the heat and crowds, to budding entrepreneurs who, in quaint ways, brought flowers and shrubs into our own backyards.
Today, commercial developers are the “new entrepreneurs.” Some care nothing of the past and seek only to build their own profit margins. Coastal Development did at least try to save the barn, but zoning regulations made that hard to do. I hope our zoning regs might change in the future to better encourage preservation.
I hope that Coastal will treat this barn with care as they dismantle. For me, it is one of their biggest litmus tests. Will they walk the talk?
Whether they do or don’t, my heart will continue to break a little bit each time I drive by. The corner will look drastically different next year at this time.
Westport is losing another piece of its rural, agrarian past. Some will forget that soon enough as they pull in to do their banking.
PS. When I pulled in to take this photo, I noticed that all of the glass was removed from the greenhouse. Does anyone know whether someone took advantage of the “free greenhouse” offer? Perhaps those who took the glass are coming back for the structure? If anyone knows, please let us know.