This fall, the Westport Historical Society awarded its 300th historic house plaque.
They’re available (for a $300 donation) for any house at least 100 years old; any house within a local historic district (regardless of age), and houses less than a century old if either a special event occurred there, a prominent person lived in it, or it was designed by a noted architect.
The most recent addition — 88 Roseville Road — spotlights a bit of often-overlooked Westport history: the Civil War.
According to historian David Press, the home’s 2nd owner, Benjamin Brotherton, was wounded in that conflict.
In July 1862 — with the war going poorly for the north — President Lincoln called for 600,000 troops. Each state and town had numbers to fill. Henry Penfield Burr of Westport was in charge of our quota. A bounty for soldiers to join was set at $480 per year.
The next month Brotherton joined 50 other enlistees in the 250-man 17th Brigade, Company E.
He was wounded in Virginia by Stonewall Jackson’s forces,
and also fought in Gettysburg.
Brotherton returned to Westport. In 1866, at age 47, he married 22-year-old Phebe Batterson. Brotherton’s father-in-law, William Batterson, had built the house around 1860, on 15 acres of land. He gave a half-acre to Brotherton as a wedding gift.
Why such little acreage? Bob Weingarten — the WHS house historian, who compiled much of this information — believes it’s because Batterson was an oysterman. He had little need for farmland.
The current owner is Karen Brewer. She’s lived in New York and the UK (in a converted 17th century vicarage), but with friends and family in Westport — and an admiration for the town, its architecture and history — she’s long wanted to live here.
When the company she worked for moved to Stamford, she found a house with “a sense of time and place inherent in things that are not brand new.”
It was a challenge. The house had been renovated by a builder, and maintained none of the original details. Brewer spent the last 2 years developing a plan. So far, she’s focused on the mechanicals and interior cosmetic changes. This spring, she hopes to restore the original exterior wood siding.
Brewer is a banker — not a farmer, oysterman or soldier. But she cherishes the heritage of her home. And she’s doing her best to preserve it
Now she’s got a historic plaque to honor it too.