Welcome Home, Eve Potts!

Thomas Wolfe famously said, “You can’t go home again.”

What a crock!

Eve Potts is back. And it’s a tossup who’s happier: she, or the entire town.

Eve Potts, in a recent photo.

Eve Potts, in a recent photo.

The Hamden native first arrived in 1956. She was working as an ad director in New Haven; her new husband, Bob, was an ad salesman for a New York publisher. Westport was a perfect, in-between choice.

The couple rented the top floor of a plumbing shop on Riverside Avenue. For $76 a month they got a great view of the river (and a nearby ping pong ball factory).

That building is long gone. Today’s it’s the Westport Arts Center. That’s fitting, because so much of Eve’s life has been centered on the arts.

Bob was promoted, and the Pottses moved to Chicago for 4 years. But they wanted their kids — they soon had 4 — to go to Westport schools.

They bought a house on Acorn Lane. Several years later, they moved to the corner of Compo and Bradley.

Eve was one of Westport’s most dedicated volunteers. She served the Westport Historical Society, the Westport Schools Permanent Art Committee, and PTA Council. She chaired the Historic District Commission, and helped convert Bedford Elementary School into the current Town Hall.

But in 1991, Eve and Bob moved to Essex. Their kids were grown; he’s a big boater, and the Connecticut River community promised a wonderful, slower-paced lifestyle.

Eve Potts (left) and her sister Marion Morra. The women collaborated on several books, including "Choices" about cancer treatment.

Eve Potts (left) and her sister Marion Morra, at the Henry Ford Museum exhibit of an old Merritt Parkway tollbooth. The women collaborated on several books, including “Choices,” for cancer patients.

Eve’s sister — the late Mollie Donovan, who moved here a few years after Eve — kept her up to date on all things Westport. Eve remained on the WHS board, and often visited relatives in the area.

In addition to many nieces and nephews, her son Matt is in Norwalk; Amy and her 2 children are in Milford, and Abby and her 5 kids are in Greenwich. (Mark is the outlier: He lives in Lawrence, Kansas.)

The pull of Westport remained strong. For several years, she and Bob talked about coming back. It did not happen. He died several years ago.

A few days ago, Eve moved into a sunny, spacious Regents Park condo.

“I can’t believe we didn’t do this 10 years ago!” Eve says.

“I can’t tell you how happy I am to be here. The energy in Westport is so invigorating!”

She’s jumped right back into the arts scene. Although many older artists moved away or died, Eve has found new friends in families like the Bentleys.

The cover of Eve Potts and Andrew Bentley's book.

The cover of Eve Potts and Andrew Bentley’s book.

Nina is a noted artist. From Essex, Eve had collaborated with Nina’s son Andrew on the Historical Society’s book depicting 50 New Yorker covers. (He moved to Westport in 1991 — the same year she left.)

“Andy’s been so welcoming,” Eve says. “He introduced me to all his friends. It’s nice to know a whole new group of people.”

The other day, Eve went to the Westport Country Playhouse. After the performance of “Art,” Andy’s wife — art historian Fiona Garland — spoke.

“It was fantastic!” Eve says. “She’s so bright, and everyone was so engaged.”

After nearly 4 decades here — and then 25 years away — Eve Potts sees Westport through both old and new eyes.

Serena & Lily -- the former Kemper-Gunn House -- now open on Elm Street.

Serena & Lily — the former Kemper-Gunn House — now open on Elm Street.

She is excited at the changes Bedford Square will bring downtown. She looks at Serena & Lily and sees both a beautiful new store, and the old Victorian house before it was moved across Elm Street. It was called the Kemper-Gunn house — because, Eve says, “my lawyer, Ben Gunn, was there!”

Certain things never change, of course. There’s the natural beauty of the beach, and the ineffable charm of the people and our heritage.

It’s easy to knock the 2016 version of Westport. The behavior of some folks, and the destruction of old homes and trees, is a frequent theme on “06880.”

But, Eve Potts reminds us, “Westport has so much going for it. So much of our history still remains.”

Thanks, Eve, for helping us see our hometown from a wonderful, old/new perspective.

And thanks too for coming home.

13 responses to “Welcome Home, Eve Potts!

  1. Pete Wolgast

    Eve was a major factor in the growth of the Westport Historical Society during the last half of the 1990s when Cheryl Bliss, Roy Dickinson, Ann Sheffer and I served as president. She played a major role in the drafting of Westport Connecticut, The Story of a New England Town’s Rise to Prominence” working extensively with author Woody Klein. That book is the definitive history of our town. It has been over 16 years since it was completed. l wish the WHS would consider a second volume covering the years since 1999.

    Welcome back Eve. I know that you really never left!

    Pete Wolgast

  2. Westport is indeed a better place now that Eve is back. I had the privilege of working with her and Andrew Bentley on the WHS book “The New Yorker in Westport” and can attest to her enthusiasm, knowledge, compassion , writing skills and love of Westport. We look forward to seeing her Prius parked at Westport Historical Society for many years to come! Welcome home Eve !
    Ed Gerber , WHS Immediate Past President

  3. Morley Boyd

    Welcome back, Eve! Just don’t let on that you’re a preservationist. Trust me.

  4. Fred Cantor

    Holy cow! Due to her extensive work for the Historical Society, I had always assumed Eve lived in Westport (and I never would have guessed that she lived as far away as Essex). That’s inspirational–and welcome back.

    PS–we got your “The New Yorker in Westport” book as a gift for my (New Yorker, former Westporter) mom and she absolutely loved it.

  5. Don’t know Eve – but great post! Have to comment that the former Kemper-Gunn house is stunning. So gorgeous. Love to see pics of the interior sometime.

  6. Wally Woods

    Yahoo!!! We know the feeling…..can’t stay away from Westport. Denise and I are so glad that you too moved back “down the coastline” like we did last year. Don’t let Morley frighten you about being an avowed preservationist…..be a proud one. Westport deserves you…..
    Wally Woods

  7. Ken and I have been waiting and waiting until you came back, Eve! Is Marion here too? See you soon (perhaps for dinner at the beach?). Oh, this news made our day!!

  8. Brian Pettee

    Agree with BJ Magnes. Great post. I went to school with two of her daughters Amy and Abby, and they have great enthusiasm for every body and every thing. Hope to check out her book.

  9. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    I’ll be looking for this book as well as Gardens at First Light.

  10. One of my classmates just asked me to obtain a copy of “Westport, a Special Place” for him …the gold standard book of Westport History. I look forward to everything!! I can feel the energy!! Welcome home!!!