Geiger’s: Going, Going, Gone…

The deconstruction of Geiger’s barn was going well — board by board, piece by piece.

But a couple of days ago, a bulldozer rumbled in, and finished the job.

Now the barn is gone. So is the main building.

Geigers Collage 2

Two acres of flat land sit on the corner of the Post Road and North Morningside. Soon to come: a commercial/residential complex with 12 residential rental units — 2 of them classified as “affordable” — plus a retail building.

And a bank.

16 responses to “Geiger’s: Going, Going, Gone…

  1. mary schmerker

    What a shame to see such a wonderful landmark disappear.

  2. Bobbie Herman

    So sad. And I loved their flowers.

  3. Gil Ghitelman

    A bank sounds like a great idea but I think a nail salon is what’s really needed.

  4. When I think of Geiger’s, I think of a celebrity sighting there roughly 15 years ago and facing the classic dilemma: do I go up and say anything or should I take the typical Westport stance of just letting the person be to go about his or her business?

    The thing is, it was Nick Ashford, and I have long thought that the string of songs he and his wife, Valerie Simpson, wrote for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell were some of the most incredible songs of the 1960s–ones that have unquestionably stood the test of time.

    Nick was looking by himself at some plants. (I think he and Valerie had a home near Christie’s at the time, so I guess he was checking out some possibilities for his property.)

    I just wanted to briefly tell him how much I thought of those songs (and others) and of his immense songwriting talent–and thank him for the great pleasure he had given me and other music fans. But, after quickly going back and forth in my head–I decided not to say anything and let him peacefully go about what he was doing.

    In hindsight, I wish I had gone up to him. I think it would have given him pleasure to hear some thanks and praise from a music fan. And, the bottom line is, he didn’t seem in a rush (so I don’t think I would have been imposing on him).

    Of course, Nick Ashford is gone now so that opportunity will never present itself again. (And I think Valerie Simpson sold that home a few years ago–possibly after Nick’s death.)

    • Bobbie Herman

      The Ashford/Simpson house was on the northeast corner of Cross Highway and Bayberry Road. It was sold to Melissa and Doug Bernstein, who tore it down and built a 29,513 SF “dwelling” with 45 rooms and 12 bedrooms. It’s hidden behind a fence, so you can’t see it driving by. Nick and Valerie held a Fourth of July party every year, complete with music and fireworks. I could see and hear them as at the time, I lived right across the Merritt from them on Sturges Highway. I always wished that i could have been invited.

      • And before THAT it was the Rabinowitz home (Susan Malloy’s/Ann Sheffer’s family). The 32-acre property stretched to what is now the Westport-Weston Health District and Rolnick Observatory. In the early 1950s the property was considered as a site for the “new” Staples High School — when the Riverside Avenue buildings were overcrowded — but eventually the present North Avenue site was chosen (it was closer to town). Meanwhile, the US military wanted the Bayberry Lane property to build the Nike Missile launch site. The family donated it for $1 — with the provision that if the military ever left, it would revert back to the town. Which is why he Health District and Observatory are there now.
        To read more, click here: http://06880danwoog.com/2011/10/11/when-the-cold-war-came-to-town-photos-tk/

  5. Mary Maynard

    Who knows where the “deconstructed” barn is? Derrida? mmm

  6. Carol Mata

    So long Parsell’s!

  7. Wendy Crowther

    A good portion of the barn was still standing when it was crushed into a dumpster on Saturday. This wasn’t supposed to happen!

    Due to pressure from historically-minded town residents, the developer arranged to have a salvage company deconstruct the barn, piece by piece. This effort was moving along nicely (see Dan’s blog post on April 25th). However, deconstruction seemed to come to an end about a week ago or more. At least 1/3 to 1/2 of the barn was still standing when the backhoe pulled down the rest on Saturday. WHY? The front entry (seen in Dan’s top photo) was a newer addition to the barn (though part of it contained very old timbers). Look closely at the photo and you can clearly see portions of the old barn sticking up behind it.

    What happened to the remainder of the salvage job? Did the salvage company bail out? Did they run out of time? Was this just a half-assed effort to shut-up preservationists? I’m angry that a good portion of that barn is headed to the dump. Coastal Development – please explain!

  8. Joyce Barnhart

    I’m sorry to see Parsell’s go. It never really became Geiger’s for us, and the Parsell name could still be seen as a ghostly shadow on the white house in front. Since we live in condos built where we used to buy corn from a farm stand, I can’t get too sentimental, but I’m glad I lived in Westport when there was a pink ice cream parlor a short distance from where Winnie the Pooh and his balloon lived downtown, and where we could walk a few steps from the movie theaters for chocolate fondue after a show.

  9. Matthew Mandell

    Just great, the barn which was only to be partially saved is gone. So we have a few pieces. Not what was supposed to happen. Maybe we get a few boards in one of the new buildings, but I believe some are going elsewhere. That is not preservation, that is only an homage.

    The whole barn would have been saved if the P&Z had done either of two things.
    1. Modify their regulations that allow for flexibility in commercial zones to aid in historic preservation. Currently such flexibility exists in residential zones.
    2. Approved the amendment to the regulations that the developer worked out with preservationists that would have saved the barn and given the flex needed in return.

    What a shame. Compromise was at hand….

    • Chip Strphens - Staples 73

      Reality check!
      Realize that saving the Parcell / Geiger “barn” would not have saved much of the barn beyond what was saved by deconstruction, those saved parts should appear in the new buildings. As is witnessed after many of our decisions the Monday morning quarterbacking fails to address the many issues we must face in these instances.
      For example:
      What is saved usually means original historic foundation is gone, outside sheathing and additions gone … leaving salvaged beams and cosmetic historic façade (they wanted to move the barn)

      Allowances must be made to attract saving the barn, importantly, usually means allowing extra parking on residential adjoining property or giving a waiver on “affordable housing” requirement

      Importantly, allowing the concessions like above, then you have every other property claiming the old house on their lot is historic to get the allowances, and there are quite a few old houses that are not historic.

      We work hard to analyze these historic saves one by one, some like the Gunn house get saved, some like the Terrain house get saved but are crumbling, and others are like the Geiger barn would not have been saved as is and concessions would have burdened adjoining neighbors.
      Cut the commission some slack for trying to manage preservation in overall fashion for Westport.

  10. Russ Fortier

    What? No nail salon?