Nash’s Pond: The (Way) Back Story

Like most Westporters, you’ve probably admired the blue house set back from Kings Highway North, near the busy Post Road intersection.

You may know that behind it is Nash’s Pond.

You may or may not know that the pond — probably big enough to be a lake — was named for the Nash family. In 1835 Daniel Nash was one of the men who helped incorporate Westport, as a town separate from Norwalk, Fairfield and Weston.

You probably do not know that a Nash descendant — also named Daniel — still resides in Westport. In fact, he and his family live in that blue house.

The former Nash ice house -- now Daniel Nash's home. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

The former Nash ice house — now Daniel Nash’s home. (Photo/Frank Rosen)

You almost surely do not know that it was originally an ice house. Or that Daniel and his wife Nicole have spent the past decade restoring it, so that future generations of Nashes can remain there too.

The next generation — his 7-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son — will be the 14th in Westport. The Nashes arrived around 1650, from southern colonies — more than 2 centuries before the ice house was built.

“We’re trying to spruce it up,” Nash says modestly. (He’s doing the same for several other buildings nearby, called “the compound.”)

He’s cleaned the foundation, brought the inside up to code, redone the vents, reshingled the roof and added molding. It now looks like a home, not a business.

But what a history it had.

The Nash family erected a dam in 1879, and built 3 identical ice houses the following year. Workers harvested the ice from the pond, and stored it through the summer. After being sawed into blocks, the ice was sent to New York City for sale.

“It was a booming business, until electrical refrigeration came along,” Nash says.

Nash’s Pond is magical in every season. (Photo/Peter Tulupman)

The family has had a number of different occupations. Nashes have worked as farmers, hat makers, cider makers, and of course ice merchants.

Daniel’s great-grandfather was the last Nash businessman. Daniel’s grandfather and father managed the property. He’s spent much of his time doing the same.

Growing up, he loved the area — the big rock outcropping, stone foundation and waterfall. Every winter, he skated on the pond named for his family.

He and Nicole were married on the pond.They moved into the ice house, fulfilling his childhood dream. As the couple had children, they “carved out” rooms inside for them.

“It’s a work in progress,” Nash says. “We want to make it look fresh for the town. It’s on a major corner, and everyone sees it.”

Daniel Nash is taking his time. He wants to make sure the renovation of the ice house into a home for future generations is done right.

After more than 360 years here, the Nash family continues to care about their town.

And take care of it.

(Hat tip: Frank Rosen)

51 responses to “Nash’s Pond: The (Way) Back Story

  1. What a great story. At a time when our History is being torn down everyday, it’s an inspiration. The Ice Business was very important in New England. Ice Houses that stood for Generations were torn down to make way for “developments” and that unique History is lost.
    Congratulations to the Nash family.

  2. And wasn’t there also a connection to the E C Nash cartage and warehouse facility located on Riverside Avenue, until the 70s?

    • Edward Colt Nash or E. C. Nash, A.K.A. Ebby was my grandfather. Having passed away just before I was born it is a treasure to hear about him from others who were fortunate enough to have know him. Thanks for sharing and thanks Dan for the story. You’re a gift to this town!

      • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

        You are right about Dan being a gift to the town. Since I am an old timer I also know that the Nash family was and is a gift to the town. Wonderful people that put up with us kids and let us be on their property. I used to skate on Nash’s pond. I believe that the idea for a Staples Ice Hockey team was probably “birthed” on Nash’s pond as my brother and friends “played” Ice Hockey there in the mid 1950’s.

      • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

        My mother, nee Martha Myers, SHS ’38 always spoke most highly of Ebby Nash. They were classmates all through school and I knew many people who worked in the former E.C. Nash warehouse on Riverside Avenue.

  3. John Nash Hooper

    Great job Cuz!

  4. Chip Stephens

    I am not sure of the lineage but Ebby Nash, who lived on the pond with his wife Sue, until his passing in the 70’s was a strong presence in Westport. He was a strong presence in local business, with his Nash Allied Van Lines Moving and Storage at the warehouse mentioned above, and his leadership as a town father and warden of the Christ and Holy Trinity Church in town. Like his fellow and past town fathers Ebby was a generous and hard working individual for his beloved home town.
    Ebbys family still is involved in business in town with her family’s wooden playhouse sales still standing on the compound and his son Lloyd is still active in CHT church and a Boy Scout leader here in town.

  5. Mary Gail (Horelick) Gristina

    My father used to cut ice for the Nash’s (he was born in 1912) and when young spent lots of time at the pond.

  6. What a wonderful story! Love Westport’s history and seeing it preserved. Thank you to the Nash family!

  7. In the early 50’s when I moved to Westport as a teen-ager, this very pretty girl named Mary Anne lived in this house. She and her family shared one apartment and another was occupied by the Hope family. We met, we dated and have now been married almost 60 years. We swam in the pond, swung from the rope swing near the dam. WE ice-skated there in winter and my bride remembers when Ebby Nash piled the neighborhood kids into his Model “A” Ford and drove up and down the pond on the ice. I fished the pond often and caught the biggest yellow perch (16 inches) of my life. A year or so after we met, my bride moved to Old Hill, but our romance continues to this day. This house will always share our memories. – Dick Alley

  8. Bonnie Bradley

    What a beautiful and meaningful labor of love this restoration is, created by Dan and Nicole. It enhances the whole area and reminds us again of our long, productive history. They deserve lots of credit for all the determined work which had to have gone into it. The old Westport spirit still prevails!

  9. Nash’s pond is nice but there are a lot of other ponds in town that are not discussed or posted on here. Like the one on Tupelo:

    • You’re kidding, right? This is a blog, not a comprehensive history of every pond in Westport. If you send me some info on the wonderful centuries-old history of Tupelo pond, and the families that have lived nearby — or any other story idea — I’m happy to consider it.

    • Mary Ann Ruta Mirkov

      Really? Just enjoy Dan’s story. My brothers and I were lucky to have grown up on Nash’s Pond in the 60’s. My Dad built several homes on it. Great childhood memories of skating, fishing, catching fireflies and climbing trees. A wonderful time to be a kid in Westport.

  10. Great story. My family ran a summer camp in northwestern Connecticut for many years. The refrigerators in the Dining Hall kitchen were built in the original ice-house, which was filled with ice cut from the lake each winter (where the campers swam in the summer). The ice was stored in sawdust, and would last through the summer. Electrical refrigeration did not become available until the late 1920s.

    • Francis Fiolek

      Hi Scott..Sorry to get off topic (apologies to other readers)..was your family’s camp on Bantam Lake by chance? I know there used to be a big ice house there.

  11. Michael Calise

    Great story Dan. The Nash family has contributed much to Westport and there is no doubt that they will continue to do so.

  12. My mother talks about Great Grand-mother Nash who would visit their home up in Ridgefield–not sure if she was on my grandmother or grandfather’s side–(Mr great great grandfather was Capt Serino Allen). Lloyd Nash was my classmate (Staples ’66). I’ll be sure Mom catches this post — she can add more color than me. Of course, I had many skating birthday parties on Nash’s Pond.

  13. So glad to read about preserving Westport history. What a wonderful story and how terrific to have this remain in the same family for all of these years!

  14. Kris and Lloyd Nash (grandma & grandpa)

    Thank you, Dan for this wonderful post! There are in fact still Nash businesses right here on the compound- Great Outdoor Toy Company, in front of the blue house, is owned and operated by David Engert and his wife Leah Nash. Nice Threads , at #17 Kings Highway , is an embroidery company owned and operated by Tim Nash and his wife Belkis. We all love Westport and are proud to be part of its history!

  15. Awesome story Dan, and the fact that a Nash family still lives in Town, and in fact lives in the original Nash buildings, was unknown to me but wonderful to hear. That’s the equivalent of a Lees family still living in the Richmondville Mill buildings, a Jesup still living in the Jesup Green area, or a Sherwood still living in any of the various Sherwood family buildings.

    • Thanks, Jack! And I’m amazed I knew something about Westport’s history that you did not. The Nash family keeps a low profile — but they are a true town treasure.

  16. I don’t know why I have a memory of this but I’m almost certain it was Nash’s moving company that moved us here from Queens in 1963–and I never made the connection before with Nash’s Pond. Now, if you can tell me that there’s some connection between our Nash and Nashville, I think that will set a new benchmark for “where Westport meets the world.”

  17. Great story and boy do I feel old! I used to work with Grandma Nash (Kris) at the Organic Market and remember Daniel as a little boy in diapers 🙂 I lived off of King’s Hwy and loved Nash’s Pond! I enjoyed the entire Nash clan, such friendly and nice folks! Good to hear some things have not changed in Westport!

  18. Michael Krein

    Great story Dan, It is great to hear from Dick Alley..Alley’s
    Anglers (sp) was a column in the Westport News like forever. I hope you are still doing well and still “pulling em in” and exaggerating on the size (16 in. ???) Best to all

  19. Jill Nash von Schmidt

    Thank you all for the wonderful comments & memories of the pond and our family. Westport was an awesome place to grow up!

    I love seeing the ice house painted blue and I sing the praises to all my family for keeping up the property & making it all look so beautiful.

    Thanks, Dan for running the story, and thank you to all who commented. Blessings to you all.

  20. I love your historical articles. But I have to raise an issue over that 1879 date for the dam. I have an original copy of a map of Westport from Beers Atlas of 1867. On it you can clearly see Nash’s Pond and the dam. Perhaps it was rebuilt in 1879 or maybe moved down stream. Here is a link to photo of that corner of the map. https://goo.gl/photos/CDREiEVuK3Hqi888A

    • Interesting. Bob Weingarten of the Westport Historical Society sent me a photo of a concrete block with the date 1879 on it. Your suggestions may be right.

      • There was an older damn in place before the modern /current damn. I believe it was erected in its current configuration to generate more powerful water flow to the mill.

  21. Love the history stories. I live near the pond in a home that was originally built 1930 ish. I’m wondering whether there was an orchard in the area, as there are many very old apple trees around.

    • There were orchards all around the pond, my family ran a cider press and even distilled hard cider. All there at the mill building next-door to the ice houses.

      • Love knowing the history. The core of my house was built around 1930 at corner Stonybrook/Sylvan. Any ideas of why building there? We imagine it as an orchard caretaker as a start.

  22. Luisa Francoeur

    What a good story, Dan ! I have fond memories of skating on Nash’s pond growing up since we lived nearby off Kings Highway North. Sometimes the ice was smooth and perfect and other times it was bumpy and ripply depending on the weather. One of the Nash boys, Reed, was a classmate of mine in elementary school. We started at Bedford Elementary (now Town Hall) and were redistricted to Kings Highway once the new Staples was built creating a cascade of school changes.

  23. A wonderful story Dan… it brings back many fond memories of childhood;
    in winter shoveling off the snow to play hockey..summetime, the rope swing down by the dam…. fishing , swimming (swimming past a log with turtles sunning themselves on it) and some duck hunting…. Hats off to the Nash Family….

    • I caught my first Rainbow Trout in Nash’s Pond while standing on the dam in the spring of 1962. I was amazed at how beautiful the fish was–and also a bit sorry that I had pullled him out of the water. As John K. has also recalled above, during hot and humid summer afternoons, we would sometimes use the rope swing on the south side of Nash’s pond to swing out over the water and drop ourselves into the cool waters below. Not having smartphones to subvert our natural inclinations in those years, It was also a good place to meet other teens on warm summer afternoons. The Nash Family has done well to keep this property in their hands and the community has benefitted greatly over the years from their wise and generous stewardship.

  24. Bill Boyd (Staples 1966)

    I skated on it in the early 1960s but because its set back from the road I havent seen it in decades… I love the family history you shared

  25. I guess the memory is still OK. That was a while back. – Dick

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