This Old Boiler

All around Westport, homeowners proudly display plaques bearing the dates their houses were built: 1884. 1720. 1683.

(Others, of course, proudly display the many gables and great rooms of the homes they’ve built to replace those historic ones. But that’s a different story.)

There’s a lot going on inside old homes too. Yesterday, Gault honored Westport’s oldest boiler.

It’s fitting. The company — recently renamed Gault Energy & Home Solutions —  is the oldest business in Westport. By several decades.

Gault was already 57 years old — just a little younger than Mitchells of Westport is now — in 1920, when workers installed a coal-fueled heating unit for the Abbott family.

The 96-year-old boiler in the Salmonds' basement.

The 96-year-old boiler in the Salmonds’ basement.

The Dutch colonial on St. John Place has been renovated several times since Woodrow Wilson was president. But the boiler was the same.

This week, company president Sam Gault presented homeowners Willie and Anne Salmond — a retired couple — with a state-of-the-art new one. It’s quite a 45th wedding anniversary gift: The value is $11,000 (including installation).

(And it came not a moment too soon. Sleet fell yesterday, on the coldest day of the fall.)

Sam Gault (right), president of Gault Energy & Home Solutions, delivered a new state-of-the-art Energy Kinetics System 2000 boiler to Willie and Anne Salmond.

Sam Gault (right), president of Gault Energy & Home Solutions, delivered a new state-of-the-art Energy Kinetics System 2000 boiler to Anne and Willie Salmond yesterday.

The Salmonds — who moved here in 1984, when Gault was just 121 years young — have an interesting story themselves. They raised 3 children in Westport, but also traveled extensively for work. Among other things, he served in Uganda with an HIV/AIDS prevention program, while she did foundation work in India.

Both are members of the Saugatuck Congregational Church. He’s recently taken on preaching assignments there, and at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Willie is from Scotland. Anne is from Northern Ireland. Both grew up in homes where heat was a luxury. In fact, coal was used in bedrooms only if someone was sick.

As a New England winter nears, the heat is welcome — especially since Anne has arthritis.

Gault's new logo (and name).

They thanked Gault for its generosity, noting that since retirement they wanted to spend their money on what Anne calls “things you can see. We ignored the old dinosaur in our basement.” Now, they’re inspired to take on other domestic  projects.

Here’s one final twist: The original owners of the Salmonds’ house — the Abbotts –are related to the Gaults through marriage.

How’s that for a heart-“warming” story?

10 responses to “This Old Boiler

  1. Hey Sammy, betcha my old coal burner is older. It’s disconnected and in Weston though.

  2. Our American Standard only dates to the 1950s but holy cow, the build quality is astonishing. With a just a few modifications and updates it’s very efficient. The furnace has no pump – it’s really just iron and water – so when the power goes out we open one of its cast iron doors and throw in some firewood. Problem solved.

    • x Morley Boyd

      Careful — the “time to move forward” person who posted earlier may follow you onto this thread

  3. Back then, everyone were cousins–the Gault family are cousins of my grandfather Sereno Jacob (grandson of Capt. Sereno Allen who’s portrait now hangs in the Wspt Historical Soc.). My mom will probably pick up on this and can fill in the blanks.

  4. I thought my boiler was old at 68 years young! It certainly was built to last, but not necessarily to be energy efficient!

  5. A. David Wunsch

    I wonder if that white patch on the old boiler is asbestos. Good to have it gone from the house.
    ADW Staples 1956

  6. Hooray for the Gaults and their generosity! It sounds as though they couldn’t have helped a nicer couple.

  7. Robert Mitchell

    Great happening for a wonderful couple! And, Happy Anniversary!!

  8. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    What a wonderful heart warming story to wake up to this morning. The Gaults have always been wonderful. After my Dad died and my stepmother was hospitalized their furnace was making strange noises. The Galts came out that same morning and took care of the problem immediately. They are one of the families and businesses that make Westport wonderful.
    Happy Anniversary!