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.
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.
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)