Friday Flashback #47

July 4th marked the 56th anniversary of one of the most famous events on Gorham Island.

Around 2 a.m. that morning in 1961 Brendan McLaughlin — a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive — shot and killed his father during a family argument.

The murder took place in the McLaughlins’ old Victorian house on Gorham Island. The house was originally built on Main Street, then moved to the island.

The Victorian house on Gorham Island in 1971. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

McLaughlin fled. An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road. He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.

Officers chased him into the parking lot, where he shot officer Andrew Chapo. A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.

Chapo and Bennette recovered.  McLaughlin died several weeks later.

The other famous Gorham Island event was when that handsome — if haunted — home was demolished, over a decade later. Another structure nearby was also razed.

Today a 40,000-square foot green-and-gold-glass office building fills Gorham Island.

Which no one except those who remember the old house calls it anymore.

Close-up of the Gorham Island house, 1973. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

16 responses to “Friday Flashback #47

  1. i have spent many happy hours being child-sat in that house.

  2. Peter Barlow

    Does anyone remember where on Main Street this house previously was, and what is there now? And why was it moved to Gorham Island?

  3. Thanks for the beautiful pictures of this long gone piece of history. I never had the nerve to get that close to it…All us kids thought it was haunted 🙂

  4. Joyce Barnhart

    What is it if it’s no longer Gorham Island?

  5. It was a creepy-looking house, haunted or not!

  6. Mary Cookman Schmerker '58

    I remember it as beautiful but mysterious because of its location on the island. I don’t remember it ever being on Main Street. Does anyone know when it was moved? Can it be spotted in any of the magnificent old pictures we are treated to on 06880?

    • Peter Barlow

      Woody Klein’s book says the house “was moved in the early 1960s to Gorham Island.” Nothing more specific than that. I would have guessed it was moved in the 50s but I’d like to know more.

  7. Joyce Losen

    I always thought it was a shame that the Town didn’t buy the island, house and all. It was beautiful and mysterious.

  8. Chip Stephens

    The house was razed one day (night) with no permits or town agency permission. When the owner was asked to explain the illegal demolition, the answer was simply…. oops I did not know that I needed permission….

  9. Morley Boyd

    I could well have it wrong but I seem to recall learning that the house stood roughly near where TD Bank on Main Street is now. The town mulled buying the island. A committee was formed. And that took care of that.

  10. Bonnie Bradley

    Thanks, Morley. Now I won’t get in trouble for my opinion. 😊

  11. If it’s not called Gorham Island anymore, what is it called?

  12. We moved to Westport in 1971 and I always intended to walk around that house – so intriguing on that island, both remote and seemingly accessible. I was sad to see it go – and to watch demotion of Baron’s house on Rte 136 and Post Road corner where the dog park is now.

    • Actually, that was the former Westport Sanitarium. The baron owned it — but his house was Golden Shadows on his other property, on South Compo. It’s still standing.

  13. Thomas W. Nistico Sr.

    Danny, This one was special !

    Sent from my iPhone