Big Change On Main Street

For years — perhaps decades — the Main Street streetscape has been marred by the dilapidated condition of #257.

Just beyond Kings Highway North, as you head out of town, the handsome home had fallen into disrepair. There was often someone puttering around, but paint peeled and the roof sagged.

Recently though, work has been done.

257 Main Street

The work is not finished. But already it looks so much brighter and better.

Even the moldings sparkle.

20 responses to “Big Change On Main Street

  1. It’s a lovely Italianate Victorian again. Great that it’s being taken care of!

  2. Julie Van Norden

    I love that house.

  3. Susan Hopkins

    A gem … simply beautiful.

  4. She’s such a Beauty.

  5. So happy to see this. One of my favorite Westport houses

  6. Jack Whittle

    All I can say is thank God, finally.

    PS I believe this is the Lees’ former home (Lees Manufacturing Company – Richmondville mill, Lee’s Pond, etc.)

  7. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    So pleased to see the home loved again. If my memory serves me Jack is right about the house being the home of the Lee’s.

  8. Sharon Paulsen

    Nice to hear a good “save the house” story. Keeps a bit of charm to a town.

    Is this a historically significant home? Couldn’t tell if it had a build-date on the siding.

  9. Sharon Horowitz

    I too, am happy to see this. It certainly adds to the charm and character of Westport. Thanks to the owners for doing this and I hope you have much pride and joy in the house.

  10. Ruth A. Lees
    b. 1 September 1898 – d. 25 June 1997

    • Ruth A. Lees is the woman who inherited & owned & lived in the house for years… She must have grown up in it from infancy… The last of the Lees family members to live in the house…

      • Thank You so much Miss Lees – for keeping this house intact for a third century to love. You must have had a lovely & magical childhood there… on the water & in the wood. From when I was a child – I thought of you every time I passed your fine house. You are remembered…

  11. Saundra Clements

    Wow! It looks beautiful.

  12. I’m so happy to see the house so beautiful. I want to comment its sturdiness. It’s been moldering since the 70s and is strong enough to be here after all the years of needing at the very least an exterior paint job! mmm

  13. Obviously Miss Ruth Lees who never married and lived in this house her entire life – presumably from infancy until she was nearly one hundred – could not afford to paint her house in her old age – which comprised the decades the house fell into disrepair that so many are recalling here. I commend her on the depth of her pride – so very much in evidence: that despite obviously being without funds or help to paint her house she did not make a fuss of pleading w/ townspeople to assist her in fixing her house – as at anytime people COULD have done – which would have put a close on all the negative comments. The issue for me is not how ‘terrible’ a state this beautiful house fell into after it’s owner became increasingly elderly: but rather why nobody volunteered – in some way that allowed her to retain her pride – to paint her house & repair her outbuildings. Miss Lees could have sold her house for a teardown etc. – as I watched in horror as other houses on Main Street became car parks. The beauty & significance of this house – is that a girl then a woman – remained in it her ENTIRE life for almost ONE HUNDRED YEARS and despite apparently having few funds for it’s upkeep after becoming elderly – kept it in ONE stellar piece for – Gxd willing – younger generations of Westporters to come. That’s where I believe the focus should be rather than describing endlessly the state of her house that I’m sure without the help & goodness of others – she could do nothing about. Someone from elsewhere who posted on a geneology site – mentioned meeting the very elderly Miss Lees in the 1990s in “her house on Main Street”. She should have the same if not MORE respect from locals rather than focusing on some years of peeling paint… The house looks lovely now – and that is in no small part DUE to the person who loyally guarded over it for years vs. ‘allowed’ it to fall into disrepair.

  14. Tony D’Amico bought this property (the Victorian house was built in 1883) from Ruth Lee for almost nothing in January 1996. As far as I know, he still owns it. He let her live in the property until her death a year later. It had been a lifelong dream of his to own the property. He would work on it from time to time, but always refused offers of help — a lot of people, including my husband, offered to lend him a hand just out of pure fascination with the place. I have no idea if Tony has done anything with the interior, but when I was last in there in spring of 1997 (I lived next door at the time, at 251 Main Street), it was a mold-ridden, water-damaged, dilapidated mess though I could see the bones of what was, and still could be, a wonderful old house, especially the library. The kitchen hadn’t been updated since, it looked like, the very early 1930s. Honestly, it looked like what remained of a hoarders house after most of the hoard had been removed — a lot of damage and neglect.

    I’m glad to see there’s been some work on it. Would love to see this property restored.

    • Sharon Paulsen

      So much interesting info and backstory on this property.

      For so many years, I drove by and coveted this home – something about the architecture just drew me in (and of course, the location).

      This is a “designated” historic district/section of Main, correct? If so, I’m guessing that renovations and restorations would be more difficult and costly to enact, because of permitting and other restrictions, right? A daunting endeavor for anyone, especially an elderly owner.

  15. BobFatherley

    Thank God the owner finally saw the light. It was a tragedy in the making.