15 Belden Place: 3 Different Views

A photo with this morning’s post about the upcoming demolition of 15 Belden Place — the charming red house on the Saugatuck River, in the midst of downtown — did not show that storied property in the best light.

I took it yesterday, from the dirt parking lot leading down from Main Street.

From that vantage point, many Westporters would not recognize the house that for years has been home to artists, teachers and other less-than-McMansion-type tenants.

But anyone who ever stood at the edge of Gorham Island, and gazed at the soothing marshland just a few feet from Parker Harding Plaza, will recognize this view from 2000, by Andrea Fine:


And this one:

(Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

(Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

Here’s a more distant shot, by Jaime Bairaktaris:


Now you know what the loss of this house will mean to Westport, right?

(Hat tip: Morley Boyd)

17 responses to “15 Belden Place: 3 Different Views

  1. The Westport teacher that lived at 15 Belden for 43 years was Sondra Raymond. One heck of a Lady and devoted educator!

  2. AND two houses were removed at the beach this week…one at Old Mill across from Elvira’s and one on the Shore road. Sad. Losses like these change the character of the town. Little by little we are draining away our heritage.

  3. This has to be one of the top ten classic Westport views. It makes me think of Gorham Island before we let it become a corporate ghetto.

  4. Brace for another hollow 8-30g application designed to hold the town hostage and waste taxpayers time and resources…or maybe a few 3 gabled mixed use McMansion styled structures. This was affordable housing for so many years in its purist form.

  5. The view of the Belden houses is not just a view of the houses or from the houses. It is a view of Westport’s identity. And it keeps coming up because such houses are easier to tear down and forget, rather than make the effort to preserve them as local history for everyone, their children, and their grand children to see, touch, and become part of.

    Instead of these views, soon our memories will be inhabited by the new Starbuck’s garbage dump. Perhaps the town administration’s perspective when it comes to who we are is best conveyed by the annual beads of cold white lights slicing a large unfeeling Christmas tree across from the smaller, colorfully lit tree filled with warmth at the triangle. Westport 2017.

  6. Julie Van Norden

    I love looking at that house in all seasons. I will be so sad to see it go.

    • Julie, please don’t be sad. That’s giving up. The house is still there. What you should be is mad. Mad at the complete pig’s breakfast of density, demolitions and traffic that has becoming downtown Westport. This is all going to play out in public hearings so make your voice heard. If it doesn’t work out and the house is lost, well , then you can be sad.

  7. Bill Boyd (staples 66)

    I feel bad too… but sad mostly at the perceived lack of caring by the present population of Westport … many from new york who seem to have no sense of the traditions and history of this town… every year it morphs into something more like White Plains… shopping and concrete are the priorties

  8. Here we go again. Blame New Yorkers … because Westporters can NEVER do wrong. And of course New Yorkers have no sense of tradition. Is that right? These elitist comments say much more about the unwillingness to take responsibility than the desire to preserve the diappearing character of the town.

    • Bill and David: This is an argument straight out of South Park: Blame Canada! See this and get a laugh: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOR38552MJA. Seriously, it is easy to blame migrants of one kind or another, but the locals have been tearing things down for centuries. Remember Dan’s recent post about the hill overlooking the Saugatuck that was leveled in the 20th century by a Westport-based gravel firm?

      • Re New Yorkers, to paraphrase a rising national leader who hails from New York himself: “…And some, I assume, are good people.”

  9. Chip Stephens - Staples 73

    As an elected town official on the Westport Planning and Zoning Commission I can not make comment or take sides on matters like this.
    What I can say is those of you that CARE and want to have input in decisions like ones like this that will come to us should attend a Thursday night meeting now and then. The calendar of issues is on the Town of Westport Web site. All are welcome to attend and encouraged to speak.
    The public’s opinion is valued and is very much taken in the decisions we make each week.
    If you can not make it to the meetings you are invited to tune in on the cable public stations on Optimum or Frontier. Also stream live and are archived on line at http://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=306 and comment via mail or email.
    Blogging is good but being there to sound off makes a difference.

    • Ellen Lautenberg

      Chip makes an important point. Follow the issues you care about and express your opinion. It doesn’t guarantee an issue will be decided your way but sometimes it will make the difference. And you will know you did your part

  10. There will be a public hearing regarding waiving the balance of the 180 day demolition delay period for this house. The application to waive the demolition delay period will be heard on Tuesday, December 13th at 7 p.m. by the Historic District Commission. See attached link: http://www.westportct.gov/index.aspx?page=745&recordid=12264

    The reason we have a 180 demolition delay period in Westport for buildings over 50 years old is to give the property owner and the Town time to figure out if there is a way to both keep a building that is valued by town while accommodating the needs of the property owner. In this case, according to the previous post, the owner just apparently needs more parking. We are blessed in Westport with thoughtful and caring Town officials and employees. If anyone can figure out a way to keep this house, they can. If keeping this home is important to you, as a first step, let the Historic District Commission know.

  11. Martha Constable

    Already existing — and attractive — affordable housing is a precious commodity. “Parking needs” will always be one of the arguments used in the downtown. But why can’t Westport use its collective brains to find a viable alternative to demolishing our history in the name of more parking spaces?

  12. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    15 Belden Place is described as a gem. The great jewelry designers of their times like Cartier and Tiffany, designed settings that enhanced the beauty of the precious stones they were placing in the settings. 15 Belden place is a jewel placed in a magnificent setting. Timeless settings by Tiffany increase in value with time. 15 Belden Place is such a jewel. Please don’t be sad. Get active, speak up, get mad if necessary and do what you can to save this timeless Jewell. It has unimaginable value to Westport.