15 Belden Place: Little Red House Saved!

In early December, “06880” broke the story about the proposed demolition of #7 and #15 Belden Place — the tiny, seldom-noticed piece of Main Street property just past Avery Place, opposite Veterans Green and Town Hall.

Not many people cared about the 1st building. But boy, did they howl about the 2nd.

#15 is listed in the Westport Historic District Commission inventory. It sits on the bank of the Saugatuck River (with quite a view!). Readers flooded the comments section of that story — and one with 3 other photos — decrying the proposal.

15 Belden Place (Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

15 Belden Place (Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

We haven’t heard much about Belden Place since then. But today alert “06880” reader — and preservation activist — Morley Boyd writes:

Here’s a testament to the 06880 community and its passion for all things Westport.

At a Historic District Commission hearing Tuesday night — just in time for Valentine’s Day — representatives for the new owner of the iconic red house by the Saugatuck River revealed plans to fully restore the beloved local landmark.

“06880” readers were quite vocal when plans to demolish the iconic early 20th century dwelling surfaced late last year. Westporter Peter Nisenson — the property’s contract purchaser, and principal of Westport-based PEN Building Company — took those concerns to heart. He said, “We heard the public and we took  its advice. In many ways this is now a much more interesting project.”

A 2000 view of 15 Belden Place, taken from Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Andrea Fine)

A 2000 view of 15 Belden Place, taken from Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Andrea Fine)

On the same property, as part of its plan for retail and residential development, PEN intends to also save the large antique building that fronts Main Street which once housed Nappa Sales.

PEN officials noted the uniquely picturesque setting of 15 Belden Place, a building they refer to even on their official site plan as “The Red House.” Provided they can secure the needed zoning variances, the modest structure will remain in its original setting — though slightly raised to prevent further flood damage.

PEN intends to then make repairs as needed to return the house to residential use — but with an eye to preserving its vintage appearance. While the windows will be replaced in kind, the location of the original openings will be kept as they were.

Although the structure will also receive new systems, one thing about Westport’s most famous little house that Pen representatives will  not change: the color.

Robert Storm, the project’s architect, stated: “We peeled off a chip of the red paint. We’re going to match it.”

15 Belden Place, as seen from the parking lot off Main Street.

15 Belden Place, as seen from the parking lot off Main Street.

13 responses to “15 Belden Place: Little Red House Saved!

  1. Wonderful news!!!!!!!!!

  2. Dan, I still think the associated neighbor (Village Square) pics would be of interest to your readership. Richard


  3. Are there any photos of it from 100 years ago? I think Westport is to be congratulated for preserving the past…for the future.

  4. Very nice! Kudos to Peter Nisenson and everyone else involved. Well Done!

  5. Martha Constable

    I commend Mr. Nisenson for his responsiveness and community spirit, in creating what will surely be a win-win solution for his needs AND the town’s. Bravo!

  6. Sharon Paulsen

    Cute house. Glad to hear the restoration news!

    I think I visited this place once (late 80’s or early 90’s?) for a tag sale. But could have been a neighboring home too – a little fuzzy on that memory.

    But I do remember what I purchased at that tag sale – an adorable little lobster trap table. That piece of furniture stayed with me until just a few years ago, when I re-tag-sale’d it, for just $25 bucks. That was probably a huge mistake, in retrospect. 😕

  7. Wow, good win for the preserve Westport’s character team. As Morely can attest, I had my doubts about this one working out. Congrats to all involved.

  8. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    Happy Valentines Day Little Red House. I am delighted to hear that it will be saved. It is a treasure. People do really have hearts.

  9. Not to dampen the celebration, but the little red house isn’t “saved” just yet. As the article says, there are still a lot of regulatory hurdles to cross. The community will need to continue showing strong support for the project.

  10. Lisa Podurgiel

    This is terrific news!!! I am so grateful to Mr. Nisenson for recognizing the beauty of this little gem, and envy the lucky person who gets to live there once it is restored. Hearing that the antique building that fronts Main Street will also be restored is very heartening. Kudos to Mr. Nisenson and PEN Building Company for helping to preserve the charm and character of Westport.

  11. Excellent job and thank you to Mr. Nisenson whom could have gone in a very different direction. Appreciate your sensitivity and thoughtful decision.

  12. Thank you to Peter Nisenson for his thoughtful purchase and vision, not just for the lovely old home on Belden Place, but for remembering that Westport is a town to preserve local history through its architecture. It is still necessary to continue to support such preservation and those residents who will put their talents, energy, time, and money into memories that their children and grandchildren can see and touch when they say Westport is our town.