Westport’s Place In World History Up For Sale

The commercial real estate listing is pretty straightforward: An 11,000-square foot brick and stone office building on Saugatuck Avenue, close to I-95 and the train station.

There’s a photo —

Eno Foundation

— and a name: The Eno Foundation Building.

But the listing doesn’t give a hint what the Eno Foundation was.

It’s named for William Phelps Eno. He was a Westport businessman known as the “Father of Traffic Safety.” His innovations included the stop sign, pedestrian crosswalk, traffic circle, 1-way street, taxi stand and pedestrian safety island. He designed traffic plans for New York, Paris and London.

For many years, his worldwide traffic institute was headquartered on Saugatuck Avenue, near the Norwalk line.

Believe it or not, Westport — with all our traffic woes — was once the place where transportation ideas that transformed the world were hatched.

William Phelps Eno — who (you can’t make this up) never learned to drive — is no longer around to solve our current traffic issues. He died in 1945. If he were, he could start right around the corner from his headquarters, then work his way through town, ending up at the Merritt Parkway Exit 42/Weston Road/Main Street/Easton Road goat rodeo.

But you can now buy his building. It’s a beauty.

And there’s plenty of on-site parking.

 William Phelps Eno was honored with a plaque at the old Westport YMCA.

William Phelps Eno was honored with a plaque at the old Westport YMCA.

(For more information on the real estate listing — or to buy it! — click here. Hat tip: Kate Schwartz.)

 

22 responses to “Westport’s Place In World History Up For Sale

  1. I think it’s an excellent place to have apartments and affordable/senior housing. The site has already been commercialized,it’s convenient to the railroad and i95 and and Rt 136 at this spot is not terribly crowded with traffic.

  2. Maybe it could be converted to affordable housing

  3. Not that this will be popular among the yachting set.

  4. Dan- That’s a great piece of history. I never knew this even though I lived in Saugatuck for five years and my husband until the 1980’s. It was to me the mysterious brick building. So thank you.

  5. Dick Lowenstein

    WIlliam Phelps Eno was a man who made major contributions to traffic safety. The foundation building has a “scent” of important history. BTW, is the Y plaque correct? I believe Eno died in 1945,

  6. Cynthia French

    Great piece- interesting bit of history

  7. I remember looking at this property years ago. The current owner must have split off the houses next to it. They were a part of the property. It’s a great site but sort of in a dip in the flood zone.

  8. That home was also headquarters of Trailside: Make Your Own Adventure – PBS And a pilot of what was probably cable TV’s first ‘travel & how to make the local cuisine’ tv shows, both developed and produced there.

  9. Bart Shuldman

    What a great place to establish an incubator type offices for young entrepreneurs to come and begin their ideas. Close to the train station so anyone from Yale, Columbia, NYU or eventually the new Cornell Tech Center in NYC can come and start their businesses.

    They could get space and commit to have to keep their business in CT for 10 years. We can begin to grow high tech businesses in CT while we watch GE move.

    Close to train station. We could make a great campus and have Staples be part of it-STEM classes.

    Just thinking of how to help both Westport and CT grow.

    Bart

    • The best outcome would be the result of the interaction of the market for real estate and existing zoning ordinances. The last thing we want is the Town of Westport to get involved “planning” the outcome. That would certainly produce a suboptimal outcome.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Michael. Maybe. But CT needs to attract businesses in order to grow the revenue base. The Governor is about to try and enact huge cuts as to refuses to deal with the out of control pensions. The only hope is to get more businesses into CT and Westport and grow our revenue. Get ready to see the cuts.

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      A trade school, perhaps.

  10. HOW MUCH IS THE PROPERTY? ACREAGE?

  11. So great you posted this, We/Trailside TV all loved working in the Eno House so much that congregating online around this posting, a reunion is now in the works, including a former owner of the house who funded the tv show and other documentaries and is still a Westport local. And, Dan, you will certainly be on the invite list, I think you will appreciate the stories of why that house is so special 🙂