New Teardown In Old Neighborhood

Over the past few years, the Compo Beach Historic District has lost several homes to demolition.

Next up to go down: 15 Roosevelt Road.

The other day, neighbor Larry Hoy wrote to the Historic District Commission:

Please halt the demolition of this 92-year-old home in our historic Compo Beach neighborhood.

15 Roosevelt Road

The destruction of our neighborhood must stop. Too many of the original homes have been destroyed to make way for McMansions. Two homes on Roosevelt Road were torn down in recent years and replaced with homes  that are out of scale in our neighborhood.

Both new homes required variances for which the owners claimed they had large families. As it turns out, both homes are now occupied by single people. These illicit variances have paved the way for the destruction of this once beautiful street.

A large house replaced a smaller center-chimney colonial on Roosevelt Road.

11 Roosevelt Road has recently been saved and tastefully restored. This is the approach that should be taken with 15 Roosevelt Rd. Preservation — not destruction — is the only acceptable solution for this house in our neighborhood.  Please help us halt this destruction!

11 Roosevelt Road was recently restored with additions, but only minor changes to the facade. (Photos/Larry Hoy)

Speaking of history: Two streets in the Compo Beach Historic District — Roosevelt and Quentin Roads — were named after Theodore Roosevelt’s youngest son. Quentin Roosevelt was killed in his airplane over Normandy on Bastille Day, during World War I.

(The Historic District Commission will consider the application for demolition tonight at 7 p.m., in Town Hall Room 201.)

22 responses to “New Teardown In Old Neighborhood

  1. Do what we did in the Gorham Avenue neighborhood, get Local Historic District status. That designation gives the HDC real power over what happens and doesn’t happen in your neighborhood.
    http://www.westportct.gov/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=277

  2. OK! I can respond to this. 15 Roosevelt Road is where Bill & Jack Mitchell grew up; the rehab was next door where I lived a couple of years as a toddler; and the big redevelopment is 5 Roosevelt Road where I lived most of my formative years. My grandfather, Bradley Kellogg, owned all 3 at one time. (3 Roosevelt Road, the most prime lot in town across the street from the Yacht Basin was my grandparents’ home & is still standing.)

    My mom, Sally (Kellogg) Deegan, and I did stopped at 5 Roosevelt Road 7 or 8 years ago and knocked on the door. No one was home — but we liked what we saw.

    I am a Realtor here in Naples Florida since 1999. No one likes to see a tear-down (scraper). However, I know that Roosevelt Road can flood in a hurricane. I have witnessed my fair share there from the Big Blow in January of 1950 to Hurricane Carol in 1954 or 1955. FEMA will not allow an owner to improve a property (excluding the lot value) more than 50%. The dirt is gold…

    These houses are sweet. But I don’t know how a family of 2 adults & 4 kids got by with 2-1/2 bathrooms; no vanities or large walk-in showers; and closets that are maybe 1/4 of what is considered the norm today. Okay, I know, who has a family of 4 anymore… All those Roosevelt Road homes were beautifully built mostly by Phil Punzelt (whose home was at the current rowing club site on Riverside Ave & another family cousin).

    I love driving down Roosevelt Road on a nostalgia tour & do when I come visit my kids. But the reality is harsh.

    I’m Sally Kellogg, my sibs are: Brad Kellogg, Hope Kellogg Kokas & Don (DB) Kellogg. We always comment that we were the luckiest kids in the world to live down at Compo where every day after school was “outward bound.”

  3. P.S. My grandfather Kellogg names the roads “Roosevelt” & “Quentin” — he was a very conservative Republican and didn’t want any ties to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      So many Kellogg names that resounded with me. Was a classmate of Hope’s (Hope she’s doing well) a year or two behind Brad in school and your mother is in the running for the Nicest Lady In Town of All Time Award. My mother grew up on Appletree Trail and as I recall was a classmate of your mother’s. Phil Punzelt was a lifelong friend of my mother’s. Hurricanes were a natural part of life back then and I remember the flooding clearly.. Our favorite activity was to go to the beach to watch the waves. Every car my mother ever owned was sprung on the left side door from the wind when she opened it..

  4. I sent my own letter to the HDC on Monday, one very similar to that of Larry Hoy. Larry please get in touch with me if you want to discuss this. I and a neighbor successfully sued the ZBA and a builder to reverse a variance for a tear down rebuild in my neighborhood. What I do not now know is the status of the ZBA variance for 15 Roosevelt. It may be that the appeal period has expired.
    Don Bergmann

  5. I have an idea. Let’s ask the Westport Historical Society how it feels about the loss of this officially certified contributing historic resource in a designated National Register District. Since WHS appears to now be advocating for the wholesale redevelopment of Westport – including all its historic districts – with its new Utopia for Builders exhibit, and just this morning lectured elsewhere on 06880 that we “can’t stay frozen in the past”, I’m sure the answer will prove illuminating.

    • Hi Morley
      Thank you for quoting my thought- “can’t stay frozen in time”- it covers a lot of territory. But truthfully I was not lecturing you and was actually asking a question about why the WHS should not at some point have an exhibition about ideas for the future. You obviously mistrust the WHS’s motives for this project but did not make clear to, at least, me- why.

      Clearly when driving around Westport- some houses are in need of being torn down and replaced and some are so charming that I can’t understand why anyone would buy and demolish. I guess it is all in the eye of the beholders and the size of their wallets!

      Conflicting thoughts- though change is inevitable but we must preserve the past! The problem is always the argument about where do we draw the lines?
      .

      • Good luck sorting out your conflicting thoughts. When you and WHS figure what’s important to you, feel free to answer my question.

  6. What are the standards for deciding if a zoning variance should be granted? Are they being applied strictly or in a looser manner?

  7. I have commented on this sort of issue before. My opinions have not changed. We have lived on Bradley Street for 46 years and in Westport for 52. A property owner has the right to do whatever he/she wants providing the zoning laws are met. It is the job of the P&Z and ZBA to enforce those rules. We have had several approved variances on our property for expansions and one denial. Taste is not something that can or should be regulated. When we bought this property there was no historical district. Nobody asked us did we want it. I don’t like the idea of strangers opining on what I should or should not do with my property. I also believe the 90 day delay rule on teardowns is nonsense. Has it ever worked? It can’t be legally enforced. There is no question in my mind that our beautiful spacious 4 bedroom home will be torn down after we sell it…..after all it is 90 years old and the land size of 100×100 is one of the few at the beach!! Time marches on!!!!

    • It’s actually a 180 day delay and it has saved historic structures (the most famous case being the Bradley House on Sturges Hwy.) but Tom’s basically right about our Demo Delay ordinance – we don’t enforce it. Look what happened to that Spanish Revival house on Turkey Hill South last year. While the 180 day demo delay was in place, many of the structure’s most valuable and character defining historic elements were casually removed. Even a portion of its handmade tile roof was carted off in broad daylight.

      The whole point of the demo delay is to allow time for interested parties to explore alternatives to demolition. It should surprise no one that the interested parties in the case of the Turkey Hill South house were not interested once they realized it had been reduced to a vandalized husk.

      The Historic District Commission (HDC), the town agency responsible for holding public hearings on Demo Delays, has known for some time that there’s no financial penalty for violators and could do something about that if it chose to.

  8. I enjoy your blog even though I have no connection to Westport. I do hope that your community will be able to save that latest one you pictured at the top of the blog. It reminds me of a style that was popular in the 1920’s. Something about the lines of the roof and the chimney. Very pretty. Good luck!

  9. Very similar to a recently discoverd letter from 1693:

    Please halt the demolition of the 10,000-year old home in our historic Compaug (where the bears feed) neighborhood. The destruction of our neighborhood must stop. Too many of our original longhouses and wetus and have been destroyed to make way for five Bankside Farmers. Please protect our Machamux (beautiful land).

    Sincerely,
    Pequot Tribal Leadership Council

  10. Didn’t the residents of Roosevelt Road apply to the HDC for recognition as a historic district about 10 years ago? What happened then?

    • Yes, they did, Elaine. The reisidents proposed district involved a dozen houses on Roosevelt Road – including #15. A full study report was written and approved by the State Historic Preservation Council on April 6, 2005.

      And then…the HDC dropped it.

  11. Hope Kellogg Kokas

    It is very sad to see all of these houses, our family home, and homes of those close to our family being torn down. Nice to see that Uncle Fred & Aunt Marian Kellogg’s house is till standing (11 Roosevelt Road). I hope our grandparents home can continue to stand (3 Roosevelt Road), as Brad Kellogg was one of the original developers/builders for all of Roosevelt Road. However, reality is not sentimental. People are spending mega dollars and they want a home that is modern with all of the conveniences. If Roosevelt Road becomes a historic district, property values may not continue to rise. You can’t have it both ways. We have tremendous memories of growing up on Roosevelt Road, playing by the Yacht Basin and at Compo Beach – we kids ruled! Nothing stays the same, unfortunately.

  12. As a general matter, our ZBA does not follow the CT rules respecting “hardship” in granting variances. Our ZBA determines that “hardships” exist when a CT Court, if asked, would often find otherwise. Most variance requests should be denied as not evidencing a true hardship. The present ZBA practice reflects their administrative judgment and the unwillingness of neighbors to challenge variances in Court, which is costly. Also, the Courts show considerable deference to local Administrative determinations. The members of the ZBA work hard and believe they are balancing the various interests. I believe many of their actions are harmful to neighborhoods and generate land values that are inconsistent with what our zoning regs. would justify. Others may disagree with me. Again, I have engaged in variance litigation against the ZBA and prevailed.
    Don Bergmann

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