End Of An Old Mill Era

Emma Morano died on Saturday, in Italy. The world’s oldest woman — and the last person on earth known to have lived in the 1800s — she was 117 years old.

Here in Westport, a demolition permit has been issued for 233 Hillspoint Road. The notice affixed to the side of the building puts its age at 117 years.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

It too has a link to Italy: Most recently, it was the site of Positano. That restaurant closed at the end of 2014. It reopened several months later at its present location, next to the Westport Country Playhouse.

Positano restaurant.

Positano was the last in a storied line of restaurants at 233 Hillspoint. Perhaps its most popular predecessor was Cafe de la Plage.

In between, it was (briefly) the Beach House:

“Beach House,” by Tony Marino.

In the mid-1900s, Westporters knew it as Leo Williams’ Old Mill Restaurant:

Leo Williams’ Old Mill Restaurant, in 1954. (Photo/Bridgeport Post)

Before that, it was both the Beach Food Mart, and Joe’s:

In its 117 years, #233 Hillspoint has seen a lot. The neighborhood has changed — many times. Old Mill Beach has thrived, eroded, and come back to life.

Of course, there were floods, like Hurricane Carol in 1954 …

… and SuperStorm Sandy 59 years later:

(Photo/Matt Murray)

From these photos, it’s likely the property started out as a private home.

Once demolition as complete, that’s probably what it will become again.

But this is 2017. Not 1899.

Odds are good it will not look the same.

21 responses to “End Of An Old Mill Era

  1. Caryl Beatus


  2. Heard that it was declassified as commercial property and that it would be residential. Is that true? And do you know who bought it and what will happen to the space?

    P.S. Have given the evil eye to the person or persons who nixed the 5 outdoor tables request that forced Positano to move.

    • Elisabeth Rose

      I agree! Why couldn’t they have just approved those tables? It would have been lovely to have one restaurant in that area where you could sit outside and enjoy that gorgeous view.

  3. Nancy Hunter

    Cin cin!, Sante!, Gewene!, Here’s tae ye!, and Cheers! to the old place.
    (‘Iwllj jachjaj! in Klingon, just in case…)

  4. Nice set of photos but a sad story. Westport needs its history more than it needs another over-built residence,

  5. Susan Hopkins

    Cafe de la Plage ….. happy memories of days removed.

  6. This has been a restaurant since 1954. Where is the historical society and save westport now?? Sad that this community is losing so much. Elvira’s will be next.

  7. Does Westport have any waterfront restaurants left now? Not in Saugatuck but Compo Beach area? That’s should be one of the perks of living in a beach community – good beach dining — just wondering.

    • No — not in the Compo Beach area. Those that are grandfathered in (like the old Positano) can never come back, once they’re gone. Pearl at Longshore is the closest. There are plenty of places along the river too: Bartaco, the ‘Port (opening soon), Arezzo, Rive Bistro, the Boathouse, Parker Mansion, Whelk, Duck — what else am I missing?

      • David J. Loffredo

        The River is well represented! The Sound is not. What about putting a restaurant in the middle of the Compo parking lot? Rooftop deck??

        • Sharon Paulsen

          Now THAT’s a good idea, IMO.

          Would’ve been nice to have something like that during my growing up days in Westport.

          Could have called it something like … “The Ships II: On Compo”!

          At least there was always the concession “stand” joint(s) at the beach

          Oh well. Sniff.

      • Nancy Hunter

        Sushi, please?

        • LOL…Going to have to try Pearl at Longshore one of these days – looks lovely. I like the idea of Ships II somewhere on the sound.

        • Bobbi Essagof

          Very sad to see that building go Westport can be so stubborn and short sighted at times Outdoor dining at a waterfront restaurant? Sort of a no brainer And now our shoreline and view will be changed forever😥

  8. Linda Parker

    Oh my, Dan – time marches on. When my family lived up the hill on Sterling Drive, the building was the store, and Old Mill Beach was Saugatuck Beach. My sister and I spent great summers there – scraping mica off the rocks, trying to dig for clams, capturing horseshoe crabs and dragging them to the oyster guy, exploring the abandoned beach houses – and swimming too! Great memories, Dan – thanks

  9. Don L. Bergmann

    Note also it is expected that Elvira’s will be sold shortly. Few know who the buyer is and I think no one knows what will be the plans of the buyer. Those of us in the neighborhood and probably most who pass by hope that something comparable to Elvira’s will continue.
    Don Bergmann

  10. Blair Satter

    Leo William’s was my dads landlord. He lived next to the Greens Farms post office. My dads studio was up stairs. I work at an assisted living and one of my residents was the head ched at Cafe de la Plage for 20 years.