[OPINION]: Save Turkey Hill South!

The saga of 63 Turkey Hill Road South continues. Built in 1920, it’s one of 4 remaining Mediterranean-style houses in Westport.

Neighbors hope to save it from a proposed demolition. Right now, it’s under a 180-day stay. Lisa Fay appealed to the Historic District Commission. She wrote:

As a resident of the Greens Farms area, and a Turkey Hill Road South neighbor for 8 years, I have witnessed the demolition of many diverse homes in the area, and the subsequent building of new homes that share too many qualities of style, size and lot coverage. I feel strongly that buyers, our neighbors – and our town — need urgently to consider what we are losing by letting these demolitions happen.

Firstly, original homes – particularly antiques – reflect a town’s history, complexity and heritage. Just by driving down Turkey Hill Road, a tourist or resident witnesses the wonderful aesthetic and cultural history of Westport. With each demolition, we diminish our town’s unique character. To make matters worse, the new homes built on these lots share few variations in footprint, roof form, and materials.

63 Turkey Hill Road South. (Photo/Robinson Strong)

63 Turkey Hill Road South. (Photo/Robinson Strong)

Secondly, many antique homes – although some in need of repair and updating – could never be duplicated with today’s costs. Antique homes possess a certain solidity, built from wood from 100+ year-old trees, not particle board. These homes have withstood decades of human life and natural disasters, and are still standing. By definition, this makes them, in some senses, priceless.

Thirdly, neighbors lose yet another year of peace and neighborly culture while living in a major construction zone. My Turkey Hill neighbors and I have withstood countless trucks, dust, dirt, traffic, noise and loss of hundreds of trees from lots that have been clear cut.

Thirdly, these demolitions exact a cost to our environment. Most of these materials from demolished homes end up in a landfill. Can’t builders try to work with what they have to minimize the impact on our environment?

Steps leading to the front courtyard at 63 Turkey Hill Road South. (Photo/Robinson Strong)

Steps leading to the front courtyard at 63 Turkey Hill Road South. (Photo/Robinson Strong)

Lastly, demolishing this home reflects yet another lost opportunity to get our town antique preservation benefits right. While the demolition of any antique home upsets me for all the aforementioned reasons, I sympathize with any seller who is in a situation to sell urgently, without regard to the buyer’s intent. Giving antique owners – and potential buyers – incentive to keep antique homes could help stem the tide of demolitions.

Tax relief could provide such incentive. The Mills Act in San Diego provides an example of where tax relief has helped owners maintain the character of their neighborhoods by encouraging preservation. Owners of old homes sign a 10-year renewable contract to restore and maintain their antiques, and in turn receive a 50% discount in their taxes. If Westport intends to maintain its cultural heritage in part by protecting its old homes, it needs urgently to partner with owners in this respect.

Thank you for your leadership in helping to preserve our town’s heritage and character.

108 responses to “[OPINION]: Save Turkey Hill South!

  1. Having lived in Westport for twenty years it has been a great disappointment to see the extent of demolition of original houses
    I am in complete agreement with the sentiments and suggestions in the above
    I have the pleasure of living in a 1925 built modest size house and it has been very little extra cost to make modern improvements new baths central air conditioning etc while maintaining the essential footprint and character of the property
    Peter Swift

    • Bravo Peter Swift… I live in a small loft but w/ 9 1/2 or 10 foot ceilings – one wall of almost floor to ceiling windows – a small tar paper roof for potting flowers etc. – one full bathroom – a small kitchen – three (NOT walk-in) closets. And it’s not killing me as some posting here would have people believe. There are hundreds of thousands of mostly Syrian refugees sleeping very rough now – if sleeping at all – hence I’m appalled at some of the comments reflecting a skewed sense of entitlement here. These comments can be read all over the world. Some of them reflect badly on Westport & the US. I commend you on the stewardship of your “modest” 1925 home. I’m sure it is lovely.

  2. Thomas Orofino

    When first I notice the demolition sign on this lovely home I wondered what, of any greater style or value could replace this home. I have admired this home for many many years and cannot imagine more stately MacManson could replace this structure.

    What a shame and what can we be shamed into doing to prevent these things from happening

    • x Thomas Orofino. – I was very moved by your post re. “What a shame and what can we be shamed into doing…”. I got caught up in answering other pro-teardown posts in the thread & so didn’t give my thoughts on what you have written. A glance at the responses of some here inc. to my posts about the effect of massive new houses on global warming (McMansions which people here say they REQUIRE) & people across the globe paying dearly for the much larger global footprint of Americans – or my request to take into consideration finite resources & take into consideration the feelings of locals at seeing their hometown destroyed: proves that there is no longer “shame” here – sadly. There is no longer an honour based culture here. (Though there once was). Hence people cannot be appealed to via requests to have empathy for others. (Apparently as evidenced by many comments in this thread). It is now simply (& solely) a finance ruled culture. Seemingly not tempered by any kind of empathy or “shame” or honour. As an Orthodox Lebanese person of colour who was born & raised in Westport – I find this really distressing. (Re. lack of honour culture now). After leaving Staples I moved to NYC and many years later moved back to CT – but do not live in Westport & prefer to make my life in NYC & New Haven & Bridgeport. I live in a small loft w/ no car & wash my clothes by hand in cold water & my dishes by hand (re. carbon footprint – global warming – biosphere). So of course I have one bathroom vs. TEN. And “jealousy” does not factor into the equation as someone here insisted it did. Young people & people in the arts & bio minded people do not want to live a wasteful life in a large house where they require a car. They / we want to walk to shops & live smaller. Despite someone’s following one of my appeals re. the effect of THEIR actions on others by saying it was “not (their) problem”: it actually IS their problem. As Westport was written of by global warming experts as one of 1000+ towns in the States that will find itself under water. When I asked for pro-antique-teardown people posting here to have EMPATHY for CT born&bred people re. the decimation of their towns because they hate to fight w/ anyone hence they are taken advantage of – my words were twisted to say I did not want people moving here from elsewhere: despite having explained in an earlier post that my mother came here from Berlin as a displaced person via the Red Cross & my paternal grandfather came after the Ottoman genocide against Syrian Christians – Assyrians – Greeks – Armenians. If one is writing to people who see EVERYTHING in terms of money and how only THEY themselves are affected by anything – who have ZERO empathy for others – they cannot be appealed to via “shame” or honour. As they have no “shame”. This is why others who no longer live in Westport have posted about not wanting to return. I now avoid Westport at any cost. I have not been there even to eat or shop or go to a beach there since 1996/97 – despite living very close near Bridgeport (which is btw a great place – especially if like me one experienced racism growing up in Westport). I commend you on retaining your concept of “shame” & honour. It is invaluable & priceless.

  3. The tax abatement idea is the most intelligent one yet regarding our desire to preserve the older homes being bought for tear down….if we want to preserve the houses, let us prove it with substantial, permanent tax reductions for those willing to keep “historic” houses in place.

  4. Barb Stephen

    Oh, So Well Said!

  5. If I am correct, this home was lived in by the great writer Frank Deford.

  6. Julie Sternberg

    Sad to hear about the possible demo of a home that not only is historic to the town but important to the residential landscape. What can be done by us – the people in the community to preserve “old” homes? Anything or am naive being a “newbie” here?

    • You’ve gone from newcomer straight to village elder if you’re more powdered by the loss of these treasures than perhaps even people who may be from the six founding Fairfield-Westport families… in my view. I’m afraid to even look at the ‘teardown page’ or drive through town anymore… and I’m not the only one to say that. Perhaps we should lie down in front of the bulldozers like in Palestine.

  7. Thank you Lisa Fay. I love driving around the back roads of Westport where I grew up and lived in the area before I moved to Naples, FL. in 1998. The house I grew up in down at Compo was a tear down. I get it. Tiny closets for one thing…having to share bathrooms with your family members. But that was the house my dad grew up in & died in. Where my siblings & I played hide & seek and hung out in the garage attic. My 90-yr. old Mom & I have admired the Dutch colonial replacement. However, my grandparents’ home, overlooking the yacht basin, the original home of Cedar Point YC (where both my grandfathers were active members) still stands enjoying the magnificent yard wher all the neighborhood kids played ball in the spring under the watchful eye of my grandmother sitting on her sun porch.

    We share the same struggle here in Naples to preserve the character & charm that makes it a special place. But FEMA & insurability has made it very difficult, if not impossible, to bring these charming cottages up to today’s lifestyle standards.

    Good luck Westport! Looking forward to my next visit to Main Street this fall.

  8. John Terpening

    To little, to late! I’ve been watching this for fifty years. Let’s fast forward, lets sell Compo Beach to a developer and be the first community to have a high-rise (aka skyscraper) constructed to mirror Miami that when it falls into disrepair will look more like Co-Op City. Let’s urbanize before it is to late to capitalize.
    Oh, I forgot that first we have to tax the stuffings out of all the good little Westporters to pay for a sewage treatment plant the size of Rhode Island in order to keep the sound eco-friendly, not to mention a monorail to get “folks” to the train station because vehicular traffic over the Saugatuck River Bridge has calcified and access to critical services (i.e.Norwalk Hospital) is no longer possible.
    I think most people in this community are in a dream like trance. Has anyone noticed that our little bureaucratic municipality has “allowed” the planing and zoning and building departments to “approve” what one would consider major by-pass surgery on the heart of Westport. I am referring to what was the YMCA. Does this give you any idea as to where we are going?
    All kidding aside. What are our options? A. Hire a city planner from a city like Phoenix AZ who has the experience of watching city limits expand to fifty miles across as it consumes smaller communities into a megagalopogus. B. Sell Westport to Hollywood to use as a set for a sequel to the movie “Up”. or C. approve a zero development restriction for the next twenty-five years and watch truckload after truckload of lawyers jamb into the town hall to protest “individual’s”(developers) rights. Yes, the steamroller is actually a big money machine driven by a twisted legal system. Do your research before you apply an ounce of “common sense” to this situation.
    Money rules, we have lost the aesthetic that made Westport the quaint community that it was. Hold on, enjoy the ride!
    I appreciate the care, insight and wisdom of Lisa Fay. If history repeats itself then I mourn the loss of yet another architectural delight. To those who can not see, this pattern is like smashing diamonds with a hammer. Bigger is not always better.
    As another life long resident of Westport said to me recently as we stood in Oscar’s on their last day of business “Westport is not our town anymore, there is nothing left for us here, it is time to leave”.

    • The monorail you’ve written about could be fun 🙂 …There did used to be a trolley in town. We could have a hovercraft / drone landing pad built over the train station – or just suspended in the air… Perhaps the WHOLE of Westport should be razed all at once and replaced w/ a Jetsons style cityscape. Underneath we can have ONLY horse trails & of course the beach to retain some of the ‘rural’ elements of the town. The brick bathhouses which someone said were old so should be torn down (what the hurricane didn’t take care of) could be replaced w/ environmentally safe eco-plastic bio-plastic so they dissolve and need replacing once a week. Perhaps the bio-plastic could be infused w/ some kind of living organism – so the bathhouses would regrow periodically. In fact why not have all of our homes built of this: no more teardowns & rebuilding – as they will simply dissolve & regrow! Problems solved! Perhaps as some have callously suggested here – we should forget about our sad dreams of preservation – of musty plaster & crumbling brick and embrace the solve-everything-sort-of sparkly future.

  9. Would be interesting to know who filed for the permit? 75% of the demolition and construction over the past 5+ years on THS has been with one local builder not known for any ‘neighborly consideration’. At what point can Westport residents start holding these builders accountable for the systematic destruction of the character of our town? I think New Canaan had the right idea with their rules and regs pertaining to design and zoning.

  10. Really well said. Even though I moved away long ago, I still have a place in my heart for Westport. I grew up there and always loved all the wonderful old homes. I have watched with dismay all the perfectly fine beautiful old homes being torn down for some modern McMansion, the Tear Down of the Day really is an eye opener! The last time I visited Westport I barely recognized the place I grew up in. All the wonderful little shops on Main St. have been replaced with generic “Could Be Anywhere” shops…It is very sad. I briefly spent some time living down by Compo Beach and as I sort through all those Tear Down of the Day I see whole neighborhoods disappear…one after the other being torn down ! I hope something is done before the old Westport totally disappears.

  11. Jerry MacDaid

    Personally, I don’t find the existing house to be particularly attractive nor in keeping with the bucolic New England “character” of Westport. I’m guessing that if anyone wanted to build something similar next to any of the commenters here, they’d be screaming about how out of place it was destroying the continuity and charm of the neighborhood.

    The only thing it has going for it is that it is old letting the “no change to Westport” emotion temporarily overwhelm the general “character” emotion.

  12. Judy Koffsky

    Ditto and Amen to this request. Has anyone driven down South Compo in the last year or two? Almost all of the antique farm homes are gone. In their stead or “Uuughe houses, some seem to be larger then the lot they sit upon!

    Sent from my iPhone


  13. Don L Bergmann

    Lisa Fay is one of so many who rightfully lament the loss of fine, even modest homes, and indeed the loss of neighborhoods. Action items:
    1. Real estate tax benefits, including to promote 8-30g housing within individual houses;;
    2. Pressure on the ZBA, including through the ballot box, to grant variances only for true hardships. Variances can artificially alter free market property values. I and another neighbor successfully sued the ZBA and a builder to undue an inappropriate variance. That is costly however;;
    3. Promote preservation of one story homes by favorable coverage and set back rules for such homes;
    4. Modify real estate tax assessments or real estate taxes to favor long term owners of the same house. This would include adjusting the full “market” impact on older houses that results when a neighbor or a builder tears down a modest home and replaces it with something much larger. The neighborhood land values for all increase even though existing houses have not been altered;
    5. Lengthen demolition delays beyond the present 180 days, but make it applicable only to houses with legitimate historic qualities, not simply age;
    6. Create a Town Planning position that will work on the myriad of Town planning issues, including the preservation of houses that embody character deserving of preservation. and
    7. Review the actions of other towns throughout the nation for sensible concepts and programs.

    Don Bergmann

    • Bart Shuldman

      Big Brother.

      So tax new people that move into town more than someone who has lived in town longer? How much longer? And what will we do as home prices decline once you do this?

      Do people in the ‘smaller’ homes need to pay higher taxes to make up for the loss of bigger homes and their tax revenue? If older homes get assessed less, then what happens to our tax base? If we raise taxes on newer ‘bigger’ homes even more than what they should be taxes, does that destroy our housing market in Westport?

      What defines a home the town wants to preserve? Mediterranean? Country home? How old?

      Ones beauty might be ones ugly.

  14. Sharon Horowitz

    Great question Tyler. Look at SIR Builders and what is potentially happening to 21-25 Center Street– One road down from Turkey Hill. The preservation of older homes needs to be a priority for our town’s leadership. It takes effort, imagination, creativity. Surely for community good will – and legacy–there are ways to work with builders and provide incentives for preserving the historical integrity of our older homes– Architects also need to rise to the occasion, and use their imagination. It is possible to preserve the integrity of older homes, –and upgrade and modernize them–and still make a profit. I applaud Lisa Fay for writing this opinion piece and for coming up with solutions. Other wealthy towns have managed to come up with reg’s to preserve the historical integrity of their street scape and neighborhoods (New Canaan, Ridgefield, Provincetown-and thereby increasing property values) It takes the will of the town’s leadership and great effort from the community to find ways to make it happen. I hear a lot of sadness and surrender in the comments, –and I am willing to work with my neighbors to save what is of value to our town. Please feel free to reach out to me– via Dan Woog if you would like to help.

    • *applause* …I have often thought about why we aren’t asking Provincetown & The Vineyard etc. for their precious advice. I think people here would find it intolerable if they were limited in the colours they could paint their houses… but even if we could only do a portion of what they do – it would be an improvement. I think The Litchfield Hills towns are doing a bit better than us also. (And then of course people rip them to shreds about their restrictive rules as well).

  15. Robin Scarella

    Lots of luck, bigger bigger, newer newer, sad to see the trend keeps happening. The one that went in place of mine has 7 bathrooms. Really!!!!

  16. The irony is that Westport already has in place most the tools that other communities have used, more successfully, to preserve their character. We have a Historic District Commission; we have an inventory of historic resources; we have a demolition delay regulation (which although not preventing demolition gives a “time out” to explore alternatives). We have a process for establishing local historic districts and properties. Our Planning & Zoning Commission has adopted regulations to encourage preservation of historic resources. We have design review of commercial structures and have been exploring the creation of a Village District (I’m not sure where that stands). We also have access to tools at the state level, such as conservation easements and scenic road designations, recently accomplished for Bridge Street and a portion of Compo Road North, that help protect scenic viewsheds. The one tool we have not tried is the local tax credit. Everything else is in place..

    So how can we make these tools work more effectively? Speaking only for myself, I wonder if community support for preservation might be strengthened if the town set an example through the preservation and celebration of its own historic and culturally significant resources. When it comes to municipal buildings,our first choice as a community should be adaptive reuse, rather than building anew. Earlier this year, I was heartened when the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance and Planning & Zoning Commission were willing to take a chance and endorse a feasibility study for the adaptive reuse of Golden Shadows, a structure with great potential that has sat empty for years. If we are successful, we can demonstrate that preservation can create economic value as well as preserve community character.

    Helen Garten

    • I would love to see more older or historic buildings / houses turned into low income / elderly / disability housing – as it seems like a two birds w/ one stone solution. Especially re. houses / buildings near shops and/or the train.

    • Bart Shuldman

      Helen. I just have to ask–with a school budget at over $100 million a town budget that approaches that much and over $100 million in debt, how does Westport collect the necessary property tax dollars needed to pay for all this? If we start to truly limit home construction to a certain size or certain design (scary) will the smaller houses have to pay much higher property taxes? Or will we cut back our school budget and lessen our education?

      Just thought I would ask.

  17. I couldn’t agree more. I’ve lived on Turkey Hill South for 5 years and over that time seven houses visible from my yard have been torn down, soon to be joined by a eighth. And there’s countless more in the rest of the neighborhood, many that have been on the market for over a year. The new houses are so similar it’s starting to look like a subdivision.

    This Mediterranean style home is beautiful and unique. I have a hard time understanding how this makes any aesthetic or even economic sense, especially with the vacant lot across the street, from a tear down that was abandoned.

    • I think the people who build and buy these houses probably don’t see anything wrong w/ “looking like a subdivision” 🙁 …My theory is they grew up in parts of the country where subdivisions were the norm and so having no intrinsic from-the-womb attachment to the beauty of old unique homes and hence they are unable to appreciate them. Those neural pathways weren’t formed in time… Where we are charmed & warmed by beauty & history – they see a cobbled together pile of mouldering wood or stone or in this case also beautiful plasterwork…

  18. I am 21 years old and my grandmother is a resident of Turkey Hill Rd S. This house has been my absolute FAVORITE on the road since the day I started paying attention to houses. Upon going for a walk with my boyfriend and seeing the demolition sign I practically cried. As a kid I specifically liked taking the back roads with my parents just so I could see that house on the way to my grandmothers. My parents home in Fairfield is also constantly surrounded by dust, loud noise, and rude construction workers who park and leave garbage on our property. What is so wrong with selling an original house and not rebuilding it?! As a young adult it honestly saddens me that so much history and lovely antique houses are just thrown away! Why do we need a thousand ugly houses the size of schools?! This is a gorgeous home… If I wasn’t 21 and had money to afford it I would have bought it in a heart beat and restored it. Too many beautiful buildings in these towns are torn down and destroyed! Please please!!! Do not let this house become yet another pile of dust!

    • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

      Hold on to your dream Sasha. I’m an old Westporter who was transplanted due to employment. One of our sons and his wife have done exactly what you talk about. They have purchased old homes and revitalized them making only cosmetic changes inside and out and refreshing the home’s gardens. In each case they were the ones who sparked a change in their neighborhoods by showing what could be done while still maintaining the original character.

      • Mary Schmerker, Staples 1958

        I should have added for clarity, they do not flip houses. They bought, refreshed and lived in until they had to move for jobs and then repeated in their new location.

  19. Thus far an overwhelmingly strong sense to this topic leans towards preservation, but how do we proceed from ‘talk’ to ‘action’ so that the footprint of our decidedly historic region can be protected? So much talk about ‘closet-space’ as a deciding factor in bringing in the wrecking ball; it’s laughable. But its as scary as hell because it causes one to wonder what these people are thinking? Despite their so-called vision, they are narrow-minded and decidely not forward-thinkers.

    Look at the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion in Norwalk: the 60-room, Second Empire-style ‘country house,’ a prototype to the magnificent Newport, RI Gilded Age homes (predating them by a generation of two) was slated for demolition. But 50 years ago, with its trees already cut down and holes burrowed in its granite walls, it was slated for immediate implosion. Providentially, a team of forward-thinking preservationists, the JLSN, went all the way to the Supreme Court to save it in its eleventh hour.

    Today, The Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum proudly stands as a vibrant element in our 21-century community as well as an irreplaceable cornerstone of our history.

    Bottom line: our history is irreplaceable and we can’t unring the bell. If we blow it, it’s game over.

  20. This story begins with the reference, “one of 4 remaining Mediterranean-style houses in Westport.” What and where are the other 3? I think one may be the office building at the corner of North Sylvan Road and the Post Road. This is a magnificent work that kept the original stucco house with a red tiled roof and added more structures in the same style to make a unique office building. The original home was known as the Post House. I was inside it several times when I was a kid. In World War II there were rumors of a German spy there. Not so. I did a painting of the house in 1950. The place looks better now than I ever remember. People like Dan Miller could learn something there.

  21. As a lifelong resident of Westport I couldn’t agree more. Call it progress if you like, but the wonderful New England town I grew up in has given way to the ostentatious McMansions of the narcissistic 1%.

  22. Jerry MacDaid

    Dan Miller is right. The market has spoken. It seems the majority of buyers in the Westport price range are looking for new/modern and larger (which is easy) rather than old/quaint/charming/historic (which does not come without issues). Dan even had a piece on this a few months ago: https://06880danwoog.com/2016/04/04/new-home-construction-piggy-bank-or-used-car/

    Having moved several times for work, including having bought and sold older fixer uppers, I can personally attest to new being well worth it. Old always has unexpected issues and lifestyle constraints while living inside a construction zone when redoing a place quickly loses its charm. Oh, and a rehab, done right, almost always costs more than expected with the cost, quite often, being unrecoverable.

    In many respects, Westport has brought this on themselves. Zoning decisions to limit density resulted in large lots that historically were under built for whatever reason. You don’t see quite the same “tear down replace with McMansion” propensity in most of the denser “historic” neighborhoods because there is no room for them. They also tend to be “real” neighborhoods rather than imaginary ones like Turkey Hill South. Unfortunately, the price points reached in Westport as well as what is required for any of this to make sense dictates larger homes. These past decisions, I would suggest, are also what is driving the shortfall in affordable housing.

    Westport continues to make questionable zoning decisions as evidenced by the recent Center Street “controversy”. Maybe if the town allowed subdivision of some of these larger lots, we wouldn’t be seeing McMansions but retention of existing dwellings supplemented but smaller, more affordable new construction. By the way, with new hi-tech septic systems, you don’t need 1-2 acres to support a non-sewered house.

    • We do ‘get it.’ We moved here in 1990 BECAUSE of the antique home.

      We are still here. They tried to show us others but we were looking for a home with historical significance. Some people, Thank God, still do understand and appreciate the importance of preservation in certain cases. This is where we become stewards. Thankfully, there are choices still out there should one desire them.

      This region is a touchstone of history. You can’t get around that, but if you try to demolish every trace of it you’ll only rob future generations of having their choice of living in homes such as ours.

      And, you’ll not be looked upon well by them…should you care.

    • David J. Loffredo

      I hope that everyone who buys a new home realizes in 15 years when they’re done with the schools and ready to hit the road that no one will want it. The worst houses in town are those hastily constructed in the 1990’s and 2000’s (many by a developer now claiming to care about architectural integrity and historical preservation). Too big too tear down, these cheapo big boxes will sit and sit and sit on the market. So go ahead, grab you’re 2016 special just like everyone else – white exterior, grey interior, dark floors, yada yada yada….

      BTW – if you want an authentic original, I still have one for sale – http://www.18indianhill.com

    • You tell em’ Dan Miller. Tear down those quaint little 4000 sf houses and let’s move forward as you say. Then let’s have the billionaires kick out those pesky millionaires and turn this town into a place where a hard working hedge fund manager can spread his wings without having to deal with all those poor folks who are stuck in the past. By the way Dan, who appointed you the taste czar of Westport?

  23. Sharon Horowitz

    Jerry–A text amendment was passed to allow your very suggestion to take place i.e. Enable the historical home preservation for this center street house, and others going forward. We all thought it was a win win. After all the town and community did to support the builder – he came back with a design-that if you look at it, does in no way preserve even the street scape integrity of the house. He wanted to put up 3 big houses -and when the town rightfully said his proposed design was not in keeping his “intentions” -he said too bad. you can read the minutes if you want to understand what happened. I still maintain there is a way to maintain history along with new/modern features. I also think there is a market for smaller homes that incorporate updates -it requires the right architect with a little imagination.

  24. It’s unfortunate that this property was never actually listed for sale. The new owner recently testified at a public hearing that he instructed his broker to “knock on doors” in this particular neighborhood. Of course it’s merely speculation, however I suspect that but for this predatory move, the house would have ultimately attracted a more sophisticated buyer.

  25. I have hesitated to respond to this post as I found some of the comments disparaging those of us who ADORE & want to preserve this beautiful & unique house to be hostile. As a local who was born here over fifty years ago this has long been my favourite house (aside from the white shingled antique w/ black shutters which is wedged on the sliver of hill where Main Street meets Cross Highway & the fieldstone house built by the father of Mrs.Baker on Clinton Ave. complete w/ matching playhouse he built for her). Re. the comment stating it is simply an “old” house with no other significance which does not fit the “character” of “Westport” & “New England”: Westport is KNOWN for the DIVERSE & ORIGINAL architectural vernacular of it’s homes/houses traversing FIVE centuries. People who are involved in art & design & architecture & antiques & preservation GET this. As do many longtime locals who simply love the TRUE “character” of there town: VS. the Sturbridge Village / Disneyland town FAKE “New England” – FAKE “character” that a commenter here wrote of. (I think many of us have had quite enough of ACTUAL antique houses being torn down to be replaced by cookie cutter fake ‘colonial’ & ‘Victorian’ McMansions – that btw as another commenter pointed out – won’t last the 200 & 300 years that their predecessors did). Please understand that does not make us/them sentimental fools who have moved away & live elsewhere (as stated by the previous commenter above). Some of us were born here & still live here. It is really very sad when some people attack other people’s LOVE for precious historical houses & places which once they are gone are lost FOREVER… and for which they have a profound personal attachment. Last but in no way least – re. progress (etc.) mentioned: The houses which have been replacing these horribly disrespected antique gems are often humourless charmless hideous – RATHER than examples of cutting edge interesting contemporary architecture found (usually now) elsewhere – which I would love as well. Nobody can make you feel the same – but please refrain from disparaging the emotions of those of us who LOVE this house & other antique & also significant mid-century modern homes that have & are being pulverised here at what sometimes feels like almost lightening speed. Dyed in the wool Westporters can hardly be expected to call for a round of applause every time yet another piece of their home town is obliterated by people – who are usually from AWAY and/or who seem to have a particular LOATHING for antique architecture and for the emotions & thoughts of longtime locals.

    • I should add x “21 year old” Sasha – I completely empathise w/ you being nearly in “tears” upon seeing the “demolition sign”. The thought of THIS perfectly placed original charming atmospherical home being demolished makes me feel almost physically ill.

      x Mr.Boyd – This “knocking on doors” which you have described vs. potentially attracting architecture & antique loving restorationist homeowners is really tragic.

    • PS: When I wrote “people – who are usually from AWAY” I was joking w/ the use of the word “away” – based on a previous commenter writing of the house not fitting in w/ his concept of an authentic “New England” town (by using the New England colloqualism of someone from ‘away’… like the words ‘wicked’ & ‘down-‘ this & ‘down-‘ that). It is difficult to tell w/ email – so I thought I would clarify that – lest someone / anyone get the feeling they are unwanted. My mother is a DP (displaced person) who was brought to the States by the Red Cross & my grandfather escaped the Armenian – Greek – Asyrian – Syrian genocide during the Ottoman Empire – so my point was to joke about what & who belongs in this commenter’s concept of an authentic “New England” – that he described in regard to this Mediteranean style architecture which he percieves does not belong here.

      • Jerry MacDaid

        Zoe – I presume you are talking about me when you refer to the “previous commenter”. Let me help you with your jumping to conclusions.

        I don’t particularly care about “authentic New England” but only make reference to that construct since that is the typical whine from anti-change commenters on this site. I am not originally from New England and, frankly, despair over the lack of ranch, brick, Tudor, Mediterranean*, etc. houses in Westport. But I get over it.

        I am mostly bothered by the rampant hypocrisy of many of the commenters here. They whine about change but most (any?) do not voluntarily put deed restrictions on their properties ensuring that no one can tear them down and replace them with a McMansion in the future. Why? Because they don’t want to diminish the value of their property. Why? Because they inherently understand that someone else might value the property for what they can turn it into rather than what it is. But they bitch and complain and demand intervention when someone else sells their property and, shock of all shocks, the buyer wants to tear it down and build what they happen to like.

        Personally, I’m OK with you, or anyone else, buying, building or living in whatever sort of house you/they like on the property you/they own? Call me crazy but, there it is.

        As best I can tell, even the author of the letter referred to in the article has not deed restricted her “historical” house which has been on the market, unsuccessfully apparently, for the last 6 months. And even she apparently did a significant rehab (at least per the listing which also does not mention deed restrictions) such that the interior bears little resemblance to the Victorian it once was. Don’t recall Victorians with pools either but hey, I’m cool with pools.

        * I actually like “Mediterranean” style houses but this one is not a particularly good one, in my humble opinion. Pretty obviously, the seller concluded that up there weren’t going to be many takers either despite the outcry in the blog. You, of course, may have a different opinion. Which is OK by me.

        • I was actually referring to comments of several posters – but which included yours Mr.Macdaid. So you are only wrong by half this time. Re. telling me you are “not from New England”: I say this w/ love People 🙂 we KNOW who you are by the things you say & how you say them. One dead giveaway is referring to things as *belonging* in ‘New England’ or not (as in your earlier tempest in a teacup post) or ‘New England’ references made REVERENTLY in general. Usually locals if & when they are COMPELLED to refer to ‘New England’ – will do so in a way that sounds as if it were the WORST thing in the world and they would rather be anywhere else. Examples: ‘I’m so tired of this New England weather.’ … ‘My car is in the shop and I can’t find anyone to drive me anywhere.’ (Empathic questioner who lives elsewhere: ‘Can’t you ask someone to help you?’)’I live in New England. I’m afraid to trouble anyone’ … ‘I am moving to Copenhagen – as even in Scandinavia people are friendlier than in New England.’ & so on & so forth. Even for things about ‘New England’ that are adored people (locals) SOUND as though they loathe it here – in order to be politely self-deprecating. Or as a Connecticuter would say: not get too big for themselves. Thus I knew you were NOT from “New England” without you having afterward explained that. What w/ the concept you put forth of certain architectural vernaculars not fitting in to “New England” whilst every New Englander wishes they’d been born in Marseilles or Sicily or Gibraltar which is EXACTLY where THIS particular house LOOKS like it was born. And which is WHY people from town are so VERY much in LOVE w/ it. I foresee people fighting tooth & nail for this house that you & others think is not THAT spectacular. People are frankly sick & tired of the cavalier destruction of our precious historic & irreplaceable architecture.

  26. Don L Bergmann

    To add to my earlier comment in which I listed several actions that could be pursued to retain older houses, we undertook major renovations on our house on Sherwood Drive. We preserved the foundation and first floor and know that what we achieved could not have been achieved at the same cost had we undertook a tear down. I believe there is much miss information about the cost effectiveness of renovations versus tear downs. I also believe that builders are often responsible for that misinformation, though many people, I believe mistakenly, are unduly fearful of renovations.
    We love our home and we saved a lot of money by going the renovation route.
    Don Bergmann

    • Jerry MacDaid

      As for whether your renovations cost less than tearing down and replacing, quite possibly. But the real question is value to a third party (without emotional attachment to what had been there) after your renovation versus what it might have been had you torn down and started from scratch.

      Having done significant renovations on multiple houses, I can assure you that the cost is generally more that you originally plan for (unless you are very careful, willing to cut corners, or plan for a hefty contingency) and cannot always be recovered via resale. On the latter, I can attest to that from unplanned corporate relocations in healthy real estate markets.

      Maybe we just did a crappy job but even folks selling redo’s of kitchens and bathrooms point out that unless you are replacing something heinous, don’t expect full recovery of cost for no other reason than others often have different tastes.

    • Brilliant Sir! ***applause*** I need a floor in my tiny loft now (really)…

      • That ‘Brilliant Sir! ***applause***’ comment was meant for Mr. Bergmann – as I posted it directly there (and his pro-renovation anti-demolition efforts) – not in response to Mr. MacDaid’s comment – which it appeared after. (We are sometimes ruled by unforeseen technicalities…)…

  27. There are a LOT of people in the world that would be happy to have ONE bathroom… and not everyone needs or wants walk in closets the size of a children’s nursery (or larger). Why does the WHOLE of Westport have to bow to the tacky ostentatiousness of a small number of people who feel like they will expire if they don’t have a McMansion to rattle around in – footsteps echoing. I find your concept of necessity really depressing & not very healthy… including for the PLANET. There is such a thing as a carbon footprint. Someone else commented here about “narcissism”. I think this is a concept well worth visiting re. loads & loads of “bathrooms” and loads & loads of “closets”. There is a REASON monks live in cells & “share bathrooms”. It is a reason WELL worth visiting.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      If you follow Dan’s blog, you will find that most of the good citizens of Westport, including many commenting on this post, have little interest in allowing modest, affordable housing in their town and certainly not in their neighborhood. However, they are perfectly happy venting with righteous indignation about tear downs and McMansions though. Funny that.

      • I am aware of that Sir. Obviously as I posted after the Selectman’s post here in this thread (in response to something she wrote) about how I would love to see the town turning antique & vintage properties into affordable / elderly / disability housing – near shops and of course if possible the train – I am not in line w/ those people you write of. Please see the bottom of the thread for someone else’s comment about the hostility exhibited towards people wishing to preserve a sliver of Westport’s charming architecture (in addition to my first one posted near the end of thread stating the same. My first one is toward the end because I went back & answered people’s comments afterward). This is simply a row between creative people & historians and people who I am GUESSING are in STEM fields – finance – math – IT – computer etc. That is WHY anything we who are for preservation say no matter how heartfelt is just shooting arrows past the ears of those against preservation. It is virtually impossible to convey how we think & feel about this architecture & these houses & the streetscape of the town. There is no receptivity. It is quite useless. Meanwhile OTHER towns are able to find compromises & solutions. (Probably because not SO MANY finance & IT brains in them). The reality is that a different sort of people have moved into Westport – replacing the creatives – so this is simply USELESS.

    • People in Westport & CT have had large houses w/ acres & acres of property for ages without demolishing one of a kind beautiful antique & vintage homes and replacing them w/ architecturally hideous tacky monstrosities that look like enormous plastic doll houses only in muted tones. The excuse for this given by the purchasers / owners is that every child etc. needs their own bathroom – or people need cavernous kitchens when they SAY they don’t even cook or entertain there and so on. I never said anything about “small” houses on “small” parcels of land re. real estate. I was speaking of something more profound which apparently has soared straight over your head. (See at ‘monks cells’). You have missed the point of everything I wrote of in my post. (Camel > eye of needle. Look it up perhaps). And btw young people are moving to cities and don’t want to own houses at all – small or otherwise. So who is going to rattle around in these made to not last houses.

  28. Thank you so much for this piece, Lisa. I read it this morning when I didn’t have time to respond, but it stuck with me all day. You articulated beautifully what I’ve been feeling for a long time.

  29. Or conversely: time to perceive life as a living preserving patient healthy respectful circle of seasons vs. a line leaving destruction debris & refuse behind.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Destruction like you mean the builders these houses did to the lovely and bucolic farmlands that preceded them? Or what they did to the Native American inhabited woodlands that preceded the farms? Or what they did to the pristine glacial plains that preceded human habitation? Actually, probably a few sets in between each of those as well. Just which set of destructors are you OK with?

      Or maybe a healthy respectful cycle of seasons includes change, growth and renewal rather than stagnation.

      • 🙂 (*clapping*) Was that followed by a bow & perhaps a large expanse of heavy velvet curtain closing in a gilded theater somewhere in the robber baron era? What is your point exactly Mr.MacDaid? Here’s what: you lost me at glaciers! Hahaha – there are Native people all around you… It’s a LIVING culture & they’re a LIVING people. How this issue of preserving this house metastasized into the above comment from you – should be of interest to anyone trying to sort out how to have a rational argument w/ someone. We were discussing the imminent destruction of a house people want to see preserved. Leaving a beautiful & much loved house standing is very far off from we will all of us “stagnate” and what DIE – like a fish without water… or something? Hahaha… Sorry – you lost me.Yes you’re very right – houses were built on farms – farms on cleared forest – farmers murdered Native Americans who themselves had cut down trees – etc. etc. etc… the person building the house killed some insects etc. laying the foundation… and the world goes round & round. Basically every single one of us aside from children should be begging forgiveness. I never said the people who built this house were gods able to survive without consuming / destroying anything – nor do I find that to be a rational argument in favour of making the house they built into kindling – as that seems to be your point. (The people who built this house who apparently reminded you of the opening narration of ‘Our Town’. Read it if you haven’t & you will see what I mean here!). This is becoming surreal. Let’s not move out onto a ledge here. (I don’t think there’s room for any more – it’s gotten a bit crowded frankly). What I SAID was – and only to respond to the “stagnate” comment – that there is a way to move through life in a patient appreciative manner w/ introspection into the past – present – (& imagined) future vs. what the commenter was espousing & apparently you are espousing – that to appreciate our beautiful historic buildings is something we must leave BEHIND us or perish. Was the kitchen sink heavy when you dragged it into the thread? I get suspicious when people start cyber-shouting at me to move forward or “stagnate”. That’s not our ONLY choice re. this unique & historic town. We can look AROUND at the town as a WHOLE also. Which was my succinct point to the previous commenter.

  30. Sharon Paulsen

    The comments on this post that have a decidedly backhanded, passive aggressive negativity (usually filled with “facts” to warrant masked hostility), directed at the folks who have some really good points about the disruption and environmental impacts of teardowns/rebuilds, is somewhat disconcerting to me. The method is like click-bait for which embattled defensive responses ensue (classic stuff that the passive aggressive types thrive on, and it finally bugged me enough to respond as well. Clicked, baited, drank the Kool Aide).

    And yes, of course emotions play into the ideas presented in this article.
    What would we have without emotion, of which home buying and selling plays a significant part.

    Sentiment, appreciation of land and architecture, our unique dwelling places, and a strong feeling of wanting to preserve either historically significant homes, or homes that are just interesting for what they are … these shouldn’t be labeled as a form of stagnation.

    Creatively open minds understand this inherently. It doesn’t require explanation to those who inherently think in this way. That’s a focus of the author’s message, as I see it, and I believe was well presented.

    This concept applies to any locale … we just happen to be talking about now in 06880.

    While many of the points made by the “get over it gang” are valid as well, I can’t help but comment on them as off-putting.

    (I experienced Westport childhood and early adult years in many types of homes: a Frazier Peter’s, a cape, a couple of cottages, and a condo. And these do not include my post-nest homes in Easton, Fairfield and Trumbull. Gives one perspective and huge appreciation for that Frazier designed dwelling, in hindsight. And it’s not just emotional appreciation … this time, lol).

  31. The house is a goner Dan.As well meaning as the WHS block is, the builder will wait out the 180 days, pay a little more out on his probable mortgage in the property and get it all back plus more due to its prime location.

    Not all houses demolished are losses- I don’t think many people will miss 1950s split levels. The only way to protect the house is to have the owner establish Landmark status. If they do not all the petitions in the world will make little difference. It is up to the seller.

    We attempted to save a house from Demolition. The owners felt that by land marking the house it would reduce the sale price value (it often doesnt) so refused. Meanwhile they were able to afford shipping their for horses to France by plane.

    And so it goes. Everyone concerned about the loss of houses she contact the Westport Historical Society and ask for information on Landmark status.

    • I believe you meant to say that people should contact the Westport Historic District Commission.

  32. I find it perplexing that in the village of Westport a small theater can’t be built or parking issues overcome, but go into our neighborhoods and clear cut the land, decimate their character and inject them with steroid homes is not a problem. If Westport can’t change the tide of what has been done to the neighborhood of Turkey Hill South, then the town should be renamed SIR City or Coastalville. There are only a few architectural gems remaining on Turkey Hill South. Where will the steroid homes be in 100 years? Will they become multi family dwellings, or torn down because they will be completely out of sync with the future of our planet? They certainly won’t be kept for their architectural significance. When showing visitors beautiful examples of american architecture, I drive them through Southport where they seem capable of being steroid free.

    • x Lauryn: Fairfield isn’t chained by the weird reputation that Westport attained over the years – OUTSIDE of Westport itself – as a nesting ground for the very wealthy – attracting people seemingly in droves willing to sow swaths of giant Barbie doll houses across the former sleepy CT fishing / farming town. (The boys at Staples worked on lobster boats when I was there in the late 70s if anyone wants a visual… ). Probably that was due to the people in the arts – a bit more of whom resided in Westport than Fairfield. Places like Milford & Fairfield were able to keep a bit of the pewter vs. gold candlesticks customs of not showing off one’s wealth – even if one has it. (Something which is gone in Westport. Exhibit A: the *new* Christ & Holy Trinity Church). That said – a few years ago the small house of Gustave Whitehead was demolished in Fairfield – preceded by the usual bureaucratic scrambling followed by the inevitable sadness. He is believed by many to be the first aviator to fly a plane in the States. (It’s contested among historians on either side). He was a German American who changed his name. (Probably anti German sentiment has not helped his recognition over the years). Other than that the architectural bloodbath horror has not descended on Fairfield yet. Fairfield also has a larger population… and more diversity in income. You’re right Southport still looks really lovely & real vs. the toy train town that Westport is becoming. Westporter’s w/ a sense of humour should make some street art consisting of lifesize plastic toy train people figurines in front of some particularly resiny looking buildings.

  33. I am horrified that this fantastic house would be considered a tear-down by anyone with any taste and appreciation for good architecture. I have been in this house countless times when my Godparents, the Cogeshalls owned it and 10 acres of property surrounding it, including the other Spanish style house, This house has great originality and charm, including a polished brick floor in the dining room, and hand painted (by a well known painter of the 20-30’s) beams in the ceiling of the living room. The Coggeshalls had splendid antiques in all the rooms, which helped also to create a warm elegance. I pray someone with sophistication and taste will step forward and buy this treasure. We live in Washington, so it would be impractical for us to buy it.

    • I’m so sorry for you – given your very personal connection to the house. That has to be difficult. The inside sounds really interesting… Perhaps something lucky will occur at the eleventh hour.

  34. Many knowledgeable people have made complex arguments for and against the prevailing view of “progress” as demolishing the old to make way for the new. I am a part-time resident, and I see both sides of the issue, but I wrote to Dan Woog about this house a couple of months ago, when the demolition sign first appeared. I have loved 63 Turkey Hill Road South from afar for twenty years, and will be sorry to see it go.
    Westport’s character has always been a standout in Fairfield County, with a rich artistic community, a relatively diverse population, and a reputation for being more “individualistic” than other suburban towns. Progress, in the form of the replacing eclectic housing with oversized “statement” dwellings, accompanied by the “mall-ification” of Main Street, seems to undermine Westport’s essential nature. A lot of the changes that have taken place are a done deal, but the continued loss of unique character shouldn’t be the inevitable future.
    There has to be a way to achieve moderation here, and to formulate and enforce realistic policies that allow progress without sacrificing architectural and historic value. The changes on Turkey Hill Road South are immoderate; too many existing homes have been swept away and replaced by emblems of the third Gilded Age we live in. These huge houses that incorporate a mish-mosh of architectural styles won’t be the historic homes of the future. Because the houses lose their value once they are occupied, Westport is set up for a potentially endless cycle of teardowns. Moderation seems like an antiquated notion, but I hope that those who push for progress and the preservation-oriented can meet in the middle somehow.

  35. Sharon Paulsen

    Interesting info, Wendy G.

    My curiosity is sparked!

    I’d love to see interior shots of this home. Polished brick floors and uniquely painted beams – how cool is that!

    And per Zoe K., I also would hope that someone with a restorative vision (and pocketbook, lol) might swoop in at the last minute.

    • Wendy & Sharon:
      I wondered about this also! Specifically if the “beams… painted by a well known painter of the 20s/30s” were painted w/ designs? (As I’ve never heard of nor seen that done w/ exposed beams). Can you tell us Wendy? 🙂

  36. Elaine Marino

    I find the following quote, by William Arthur Ward, fitting for this situation: “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

    Rather than go on and on about these hideous, monstrous homes and how they have ruined the character of Westport (the people who live in them surely disagree), why not put the focus on the negative effects of tear-downs that cannot be disputed? The loss of healthy trees on a property can be measured (e.g,. 10 trees x $1,000 penalty per tree removed). The effect of increased rainwater drainage on surrounding homes can be measured (e.g., neighbors were forced to upgrade their drainage systems due to sizable new home next door at a cost of $30,000 each – reimbursed by new homeowner). The waste generated (wood, brick, concrete, metal, glass, asphalt, etc) can be measured and fees imposed per square foot. The area of grass removed and replaced by the new structure can be measured, as grassed areas help the environment by absorbing rainwater, etc. All of these environmental effects and many more can be measured and result in some (large) amount to be paid by the new homeowner.

    These tear-down fees may not stem the tide of tear-downs, but at least they will result in a fund that could be used in the future to save a home from being torn down. Is this idea feasible?

    • Jerry MacDaid

      Various fees for the perceived negative impact of large houses (Pigovian taxes for the economists out there) may be feasible and may be a good way to deal with the issue. At least, I suppose, to the extent a majority of Westporters actually think that large houses are an issue and are willing to vote in the fees. As you note the people buying the large houses seem to like them and there are plenty of others that are not bothered by them so who knows where it ends up if it went to a town wide referendum.

      Of course, if fees were imposed there would likely be unintended (or maybe intended but just not discussed) consequences.

      The most likely, at least in the near term, probably would be downward pressure on Westport property prices. While I suppose a developer might try to raise selling prices by the amount of the fees, it is questionable whether buyers would be willing to pay an increased “premium” to live in Westport versus other area towns without similar fees.

      More likely, developers would have to take smaller margins (questionable) or adjust downward the price they are willing to pay for “developable” properties by the amount of the fees. Or maybe development becomes uneconomic (which may be the point of the fees anyway). However, lower/fewer/no bids from developers equals less demand so more properties available for “real buyers” but at a lower price point (since the current high bid is no longer there) across all price ranges (due to ripple down effect) until supply/demand equalizes.

      If the fees are massively economically prohibitive, new construction could grind to a halt with whatever knock-on effect that has. Not sure how many construction workers actually live in Westport, but impact on surrounding towns and CT unemployment would likely be negative with further negative impact on CT’s fiscal mess. Of course ultimately some sort of equilibrium will be reached there too.

      Possible other knock-on effects: Higher property tax increases as new, higher valued properties will not be there to absorb a disproportionate share of town budget increases. Maybe more kids in schools as Westport becomes relatively more affordable to families. Or maybe fewer kids in schools as seniors find living in Westport more affordable and/or selling less economically attractive.

      Probably other positives and negatives that haven’t popped to the top of my head but your idea is well worth discussion.

    • The issue is not simply about what TYPE of homes are built after teardowns – that “people who live in them” seem to prefer… Or that some of us prefer not to see a swath of giant beige Barbie doll houses marching over our previously uniquely ornamented landscape. Or don’t want to feel as though we woke into the episode of The Twilight Zone where the couple discovers that they have been taken by a giant child to live in a toy train village that only resembles an American town. It is not about being anti-change or anti-progress or “stagnation”. I find it really ASTONISHING that so many people here are apparently not comprehending what this article is about and what preservationists are fighting for. Nobody is HORRIFIED when post-WWII pre-fab houses w/ attached garages facing the street (in danger of asphyxiating their residents!)… the garages seemingly the focal point of the design – become teardowns. Human formed vultures descending on antique homes sometimes even SEVERAL CENTURIES old for ONLY the land underneath them – could easily tear down many of the post-WWII hastily built homes that were put up in two weeks. (Literally in two weeks).The issue that this article is about w/ THIS house and other antique houses is that they CANNOT BE REPLACED. The issue of tearing down pre-WWII & pre-WWI & Victorian & post-Colonial & Colonial houses is the destruction of historic works of exquisite craftsmanship & building art & also of the historic sociological & anthropological knowledge that they impart to us. McMansions can be built on land taken from underneath post-WWII pre-fab cookie cutter houses that have been torn down. Knock yourselves out w/ those! Nobody is crying over a hastily made particle board & plywood house w/ factory doors coming down! We are BEGGING people not to take the JEWELS of history & CRAFTSMANSHIP. The 19th – 18th – 17th century homes. The 20th century unique gems – the 20s & 30s & early 40s storybook homes and even the mid-century modern architectural one-offs built by masters AND the BEAUTIFUL ARTISANAL home that is the SUBJECT of THIS article.

      • Jerry MacDaid

        Actually, if you read closely, while the “trigger event” for the letter is the proposed tear down of the antique Mediterranean style house, on balance it is not antique specific. The “firstly” and two “thirdly” points are affirmatively non-antique limited. Indeed, much of the outcry against tear downs both on Dan’s blog and on WestportNow covers a wide range of homes that hold sentimental value and not just “architectural significance” value.

        Just as a reference point, here is one of Dan’s posts encapsulating the debate. https://06880danwoog.com/2014/08/05/suddenly-a-teardown-doesnt-sound-so-bad/

  37. Elaine Marino

    I am all for preserving lovely antique homes; but the sad reality is that no matter how many times we BEG a builder not to tear down an antique jewel; it happens anyway. Instead of seething over the many “beige Barbie Doll houses” in Westport, and writing on this blog how these owners must be out of their minds to want such ugly homes, one practical approach would be to hit the builders where it counts (i.e., in their wallets). Forcing builders to consider about the environmental impact of their actions by levying a monetary penalty to tear-downs, not to mention building a fund that could be the savior of a future tear-down, would be a step in the right direction.

    • x Ms.Marino. (?) I mentioned the environmental impact in earlier posts. (When btw nobody else had yet). Both your & Mr.MacDaid comments mention the sort of houses people like & prefer to live in. I was simply pointing out that that is not the issue. That there are plenty of teardowns that would be welcomed by nearly everyone and which could be replaced by McMansions. That has NOT yet been addressed here. Rather it’s been a black&white argument. I realise it is not a fairyland we live in and that there are economic & democratic rights issues to contend with. I was addressing points made by others & the flaws therein: Tear down ancient works made by artisanal masters OR befall “stagnation”. I did not say that it was you who made all the points I was addressing. Other communities in New England w/ homes traversing five centuries of buildings manage better than we do. They have to cope w/ economics & issues of ownership & freedom as well. This is true for European countries also. (Even after American disregard for antique buildings having decimated architectural jewels there as well – along w/ the people such as my family IN them). As a local who was born in Westport long before this devastating & callous SCOURGE who is also a trained traditional artisan – I find the loss of one of my favourite houses in Westport – which happens to be the focus of this article – a painful dystopian HELL. So that I now this moment have a very real headache. I am frankly DONE w/ a LOT of the insensitive arguments put forth here. A search of past 06880 articles will show that until recently I have never commented before. Aside from one on music involving my brother etc. – my recent posts have only been on our abysmally vanishing town (and / or the history of lost architectural town landmarks) in response to comments put forth by others (“stagnation”) etc. which do NOT adequately address the issue of preservation – which other towns are able to compromise over. Telling people to move “forward” or “stagnation” will result etc. is not a constructive dialogue. The truth is MANY Westporters are heartbroken about people who have taken over their town and are metaphorically stabbing it to death. The fact that it is most likely the same people responding defensively w/ soulless comments (please see above) does not surprise me. But what I find equally disturbing are people trying appear as if they are the more rational and “realist” as if people who are horrified at the blatant & callous destruction of a town’s FIVE CENTURIES of architecture are somehow NOT “realists”. I am a “realist” ALSO. The reality is an entitled NARCISSISTIC few have & are acre by acre destroying a town’s eclectic & varied architecture that people literally travelled from far & wide in the past to see. Please read my posts if you think I only referred to “antiques”. I also referred to contemporary homes built by masters. And the callous disregard for the environment & leaving a small carbon footprint is embarrassing! People in Africa & Asia at world environmental summits are rightly furious that they are told to watch their carbon footprint when Americans are the bulk of the problem… and then this new breed of Westporters go on and on SHAMELESSLY about how they – children etc. – just CANNOT “share a bathroom with their parents”! OH (*back of hand to forehead*) THE HORROR! Of sharing a bathroom! It’s shameful for me to be even loosely associated – having been born there a quarter century ago – with that sort of narcissistic entitlement. As I stated in an earlier post: There are people all over the world who would be happy & grateful TO HAVE ONE BATHROOM. And I own neither house nor car – should anyone be calling me a hypocrite.

      • To the people who need a full bathroom for every single infant in their house plus guest bathrooms & a cavernous kitchen when they only eat take-away or dine out – who posted above w/ understanding for the requirements of McMansions: There are millions of Syrians living rough now People – without “a bathroom” OR a HOME & with only their nightmares for shelter. Please temper your words – for people who can read any post from anywhere. We live on a sphere.

        • Correction: I meant having been born there over a HALF century ago. …I’m not 25.

    • Bart Shuldman

      This town would crash. The new building has tempered the increase in property taxes that are needed to pay for the town employee pension plans and OPEB. Then also add in the almost $200 million budget and over $100 million in debt. The increase in value the new homes brought have helped keep our taxes from growing. Take that away and watch as home values get crushed while everyone pays much higher property taxes.

      Then also watch as potential home buyers avoid Westport. Either they cannot get a home they want as they can in other towns or they decide the high property taxes against other towns is too much.

      Your decision that you do not like someone’s idea of a nice new house would cause considerable financial harm in Westport. And let’s remember it takes a seller to find a buyer. Anyone with an older home would see considerable loss of selling value. Wow. What a mess.

      Sorry to read that some seem jealous of someone’s opportunity to build a nice new ‘bigger’ house that might have more bathrooms than you do. I believe this is America and we live in freedom. But maybe not in Westport? Really?

      • ?! I did NOT say I do not like nor want “nice new house(s)”. In fact re. ‘NEW’ I wrote the opposite. Are you familiar w/ the field of architectural design? Also you will see that I myself mentioned “freedom”. Also it is clear from everything that I have written that nothing I wrote in any of my posts has anything to do w/ “jealousy”. Preservation of history & a smaller responsible carbon footprint w/ respect for OTHER HUMAN BEINGS living across the PLANET (to reference only two examples of what I wrote) have ZERO to do w/ “jealousy”. Nor am I anti-teardown – as evidenced by WHAT I wrote above. Sorry I can only engage in nuanced intelligent arguments and as I stated I am DONE here. The world does not spin on “jealousy” – but it is a symptom of narcissism to BELIEVE that it does.

        • Re. The “town would crash”: I also wrote of the economic compromises which OTHER New England towns w/ similar circumstances have managed to somehow make work – if not perfectly – at least better than Westport has. Others have said this (inc. please see above). This (anything I say) is useless – as others have also pointed out. People are frankly taking advantage of the fact that born&bred Connecticuters loathe a confrontation & having a massive row over anything – even MORE than massive plasticky houses. I think the main thing is probably keeping one’s Soul intact vs. measuring one’s status by bathrooms. Bathrooms? Hahaha. Really? It’s so rudely poetic! That people REQUIRE so MANY of them! Goodbye!

          • Bart Shuldman

            At the end it appears this is an insult to our new neighbors who are moving into Westport. While they might prefer white and grey and paired kitchen cabinets (not my taste) we should welcome them with open arms.

            Westport needs the turnover and the increase in property values to support the lifestyle and education most desire. If not, as costs rise and therefore property taxes increase, will we drive our senior citizens out? Who else will we drive out?

            We also have somewhat strict building regulations including what is called coverage. Limiting a size of house to the size of the property.

            I welcome our new home owners. Thank you for coming, thank you for moving to Westport and thank you for wanting to be here. It’s a great town!!

            • Bring on the density. What could possibly go wrong?

            • I wonder who is moving in. I was recently told by a parent of a fourth grader that teaching positions are being reduced due to declining enrollment.

              • Bart Shuldman

                Werner it would not surprise me to see declining enrollment. Maybe someone with better knowledge can add into this conversation.

                If true it would show that Dr Landon was off base requesting to expand Staples. But hopefully someone can let us know what is happening with student population.

                At a minimum Westport and all towns in Fairfield need to be very careful the next few years. Already GE has decided to move out and the STAMFORD financial firms are moving back to NYC. And with the states financials in crisis, how many more companies will leave?

                We have many many homes on the market. Prices have declined and therefore they deserve a revaluation. The effect will be higher property taxes for most as the upper end in Westport is feeling the decline the most.

                While some who have posted have their personal opinions about the new houses, Warner, we should embrace with open arms. As long as they follow our towns zoning laws we need to see homes either refurbished or in some cases knocked down and new homes built. Those homes will be assessed higher and help to limit the effect of higher property taxes.

                • Werner Liepolt

                  No Landon Wing of Robotics and Drones at Staples?

                  • Thomas Orofino

                    Enrollment in our school system is a roller coaster ride. As young folks move in have kids the system grows, as these young folks become empty nesters enrollment declines. This cycle is also affected by home prices which need to decline, as we are now experience, so young parents can afford to move to Westport. It’s a cycle that will never end

                    • Bart Shuldman

                      Thomas. What is affecting home prices are a combination of GE moving and the financial firms leaving CT causing people to sell and baby boomers not wanting to retire in CT due to the very high estate tax and death taxes. We have too many companies and people fleeing CT due to the financial crisis. One real estate broker told me it’s the worse real estate market they have seen. Too many sellers and not enough buyers.

                      Many companies I speak to are contemplating their move out as our Governor and his leadership threaten something called a Unitary tax. Even our own Steinberg (sorry to bring him into this but he voted for this mess) helped vote for budgets that have put CT in crisis.

                      Milenials with eventually move out of NYC and into the suburbs as they have children and cannot afford to pay for private school in NYC. I have 2 that moved but they went to Westchester instead (Bedford was very nice). If Westport can maintain our schools and change is made in Hartford we have a chance to get home prices back up. Next year will be critical as the states budget will run a deficit and there is no rainy day fund left.

                      Your vote is extremely important.

                    • Werner Liepolt

                      Anyone moving to Westchester doesn’t mind high taxes.

                    • Bart Shuldman

                      Lower home prices and no news about financial crisis in NY. Add to that shorter Metro North commute and about the same total cost of ownership and people (I now have 2 friends that avoided CT) are looking away.

                      People use to move to CT due to taxes and none people are avoiding or leaving CT due to taxes. The news about CT, including the poor ratings by services like CNBC and GE is not helping.

                      Hopefully Westporters will make the right decision when they vote. The worst is yet to come.

                    • Werner Liepolt

                      Lower home prices in Bedford? You’re kidding right?

                    • Bart Shuldman

                      Sure but add in Katonah. My friends moved to Katonah.

                    • Werner Liepolt

                      Add in Mahopac, too, while you’re at it. This is apples to oranges. Nothing comparable. Fact is there aren’t enough high paid execs with elementary school kids to fill the bloated houses you advocate. Westport schools will shrivel and die without good quality housing and LOCAL salaries that enable young families to start out here. And I am not talking subsidized housing.

  38. Mark Demmerle

    Today’s large new homes might become tomorrow’s assisted living homes. It remains to be seen who will be moving to Westport to buy large homes in the future, or Connecticut for that matter. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about where ‘the millenials’ wish to reside and, it’s not the ‘burbs’. Sharing a 10,000 SF equipped with an elevator and a fire suppression system might be an attractive alternative to ‘aging in place’?

    As far as tearing down beautiful homes is concerned,…there is no accounting for personal taste and, as is the case with any project architectural or otherwise, generally speaking the one who controls the finances controls the project.

    • Jerry MacDaid

      It will be interesting to see if Millennial’s views change over time as they get older, have kids/families, etc. Young and single have never particularly wanted to live in the ‘burbs. It’s “boring” if you don’t otherwise have connections. As true 20-30 years ago as it is today.

      • Mark Demmerle

        It will be interesting to see the demographics of Westport and Connecticut in the future since the phenomenon of tear down of the day and the emergence of XXXL homes is a relatively recent development.

        • Bart Shuldman

          Mark-a big part of the ‘tear down’ situation we see in Westport is the ‘spec’ home. Builders buying smaller homes and building bigger ones. We have 4 in a radius of less than 1/4 mile from our house

          Can these homes find buyers? Big question. If they do then they built homes people want. The market is flush with these builders ‘spec’ homes. Inventory in Westport is high, probably too high.

          One benefit to Westport, once the bigger ‘spec’ home is built, Westport should receive the higher property tax to reflect the new larger home.

          Hopefully builders will stop ‘spec’ building and finish their existing projects and stop flooding the market. Then ‘real’ buyers who either want to live in the smaller home appear or a buyer who wants to ‘tear down’ and build ‘their’ home. We also have one of those near us and so far the new house looks beautiful.

          • Mark Demmerle

            I understand completely. Occasionally, an individual with a vision for their home, one who is consciously aware of what motivates them to choose to live in a particular manner, will create a special residence. People who are sensitive to this approach will appreciate the ‘spirit of place’.

            I assume that demolition of the Turkey Hill house is to make way for a speculative offer? I don’t know.

            There certainly are other architectural solutions to updating and adding living space to the site that includes the preservation/ renovation of the mission style home.

            Evidently the person in control of the finances sees differently.

        • Oh, it will be wonderful in the future.Finally, the right people will be living here. They’ll all live in suave, glossy confections. Most important of all, there will be rainbows with buckets of cash at their ends to support the “lifestyle and education most desire”. It won’t be anything like Westchester. This time it will be different.

  39. Zoe Kassis: I am sorry be so late in getting back to you, but I have not been looking this sight for many weeks. The name of the artist who decorated the beams in the ceiling of the living room was Peter Hunt. Thank you for your interest in this unique house. The property used to have 10 acres, including the other Spanish style house facing Clapboard Hill Rd. The property next to the Coggeshall’s was theirs, and contained an apple orchard which some of us played in. John Hersey, the famous author and his family, used to live up the hill a bit, on the other side…I hope the new owners have kept their senses and decided not to destroy it.