Honoring Westporters Who Preserve History

Though the 1 Wilton Road building disappeared, plank by wooden plank, there is some good news on the preservation front.

Next Monday (October 30, 7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), 1st selectman Jim Marpe and Historic District Commission chair Francis Henkels will present the organization’s 2017 awards.

Eight properties — from all over town — have been chosen. They represent a variety of styles, and were selected for many different reasons.

Taken together, they are proof that Westport still cares about its architectural heritage.

Well, sort of.

Bedford Square

Since 1923, this Tudor revival has anchored downtown. Generations of Westporters knew it as the YMCA. When the Y moved to Mahackeno, there were grave concerns over the future of the building.

Bedford Square Associates — led by David Waldman — made a strong commitment to historic preservation. With hard, creative work and collaboration with town agencies, they and architect Centerbrook Associates designed a mixed-use complex that repurposed the Bedford building. Though there is significantly more space, the character and scale respects the streetscape of Church Lane, the Post Road and Main Street.

Bedford Square (Photo/Jennifer Johnson)

Wakeman Town Farm

This late-1800s farmhouse, with veranda, turned posts and a projecting gable is a Westport landmark. In the 1900s the Wakeman family supplied neighbors with produce, milk and eggs.

In 1970 Ike and Pearl Wakeman sold the historic property to the town. Today it is a sustainability center and organic homestead, open to the public.

Longtime Westport architect Peter Wormser donated his time and talent to rehabilitate the farmhouse. Public Works oversaw construction. Key elements include a rebuilt front porch, and new educational kitchen and classroom. Wakeman Town Farm is now even better able to teach, feed and inspire Westporters of all ages.

Wakeman Town Farm (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

190 Cross Highway

The Meeker homestead stood on the route taken by British soldiers, heading to Danbury to burn an arsenal. But after 2 centuries the barn and 1728 saltbox house fell into disrepair.

When Mark Yurkiw and Wendy Van Wie bought the property in 2003 it was in foreclosure. They rehabilitated the barn/cottage, and got a zoning variance to subdivide the property (making both buildings more likely to be preserved.) They’re now protected by perpetual preservation easements.

190 Cross Highway (Photo/Amy Dolego)

383 Greens Farms Road

This English-style barn was built in 1820 by Francis Bulkley. In 2000 Lawrence and Maureen Whiteman Zlatkin bought the property. They installed a new shingle roof, reinforced the basement foundation and floor beams, replaced exterior siding and enhanced the interior. All work was done with meticulous care, using historically appropriate materials. The barn now hosts civic gatherings, concerts and family events.

Maureen died last month. Her husband hopes that her focus on preserving the barn will inspire other Westporters to do the same to their treasures.

383 Greens Farms Road

8 Charcoal Hill Road

This 1927 stone Tudor revival is a classic example of the homes Frazier Forman Peters designed and built in the area. When Sam and Jamie Febbraio bought it in 2015, it had suffered from severe neglect. They meticulously restored it to its original form, adding 21st-century amenities. A 3rd-generation Westporter, Sam understands the appeal and significance of Peters homes.

8 Charcoal Hill Road (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

101 Compo Road South

Jenny Ong purchased this 1924 colonial revival — listed on the Westport Historic Resources Inventory —  in 2015 “as is” from a bank, with no inspection. Extensive water damage made it uninhabitable. The roof had collapsed, and the exterior was rotted.

The owner hired a structural engineer and architect. The original footprint was maintained, but with new windows, doors and roof. A dormer, stone steps and driveway were added. The rehabilitation replaced basement posts, first floor joists and flooring.

101 Compo Road South (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

37 Evergreen Avenue

The renovation of this 1938 colonial revival — located in the Evergreen Avenue Historic District — included the removal of a later-addition solarium in the front of the house. It was replaced by an addition within the existing footprint. Materials and design reflect and enhance the house’s original character. Owners Bruce McGuirk and Martha Constable worked with the HDC to ensure the work would be appropriate for the historic district.

37 Evergreen Avenue (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

6 Clover Lane 

This 1966 home — designed and built by George White — is a typical New England saltbox-style replication. Its 3rd owners — Lawrence and LJ Wilks — have taken special care to preserve the exterior.

6 Clover Lane (Photo/Bob Weingarten)

7 responses to “Honoring Westporters Who Preserve History

  1. Dan, you make getting up real early in the morning well worth it. Keep this information coming. I used to walk from 1 Charcoal Hill Rd, which my father designed and built, to visit the family at # 8 when I was in high school. Great memories.
    Karl Taylor

  2. David J. Loffredo

    As a 2002 winner for 18 Indian Hill Road – CONGRATULATIONS to all of you for your patience, your vision, and your pocketbook – Westport is better a prettier place because of your efforts.

  3. Bravo to all the winners! Thank you for your vision and hard work. You’ve helped make Westport a better place to live.

  4. I hope that Westporters interested in Historic Preservation will come to the Awards Ceremony on Monday at 7:00. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet likeminded Westporters and to learn what the winners have done and plan to do in the future. Seasonal refreshments are served as well!
    Hope to see you.

    Ed Gerber
    Vice Chairman Historic District Commission

  5. Michael Calise

    This is a great annual event and much credit is due to The Historic District Commission for their continued sponsoring of this event. It’s an event worth attending and the year long display in Town Hall is inspiring!

  6. Since our local government is happy to give itself preservation awards (Minutemen statue, Wakeman Town Farm) for doing what it should do anyway, let’s have a little mischievous fun for a good cause. Let’s give the Connecticut Department of Transportation a preservation award for not yet destroying the Cribari Bridge. We could call it something like the “Here’s Hoping For Preservation Award”.

  7. Mary Cookman Schmerker Staples '58

    Loved seeing these homes. I remember most of them very well. My mother’s parents owned a home on Charcoal Hill in the 1930’s and 1940’s. They never used a number so I can’t be sure of the exact house but I was looking at the stone work in the pictures I have and comparing them to the pictures of #8. It was most likely a different house but fun to remember. The following is a quote in a newspaper about a relative of mine. Unfortunately the name of the newspaper and exact date were not preserved but I am sure that it was most likely in the 1920’s or ’30’s The relative was Edwin Weeks. The by line reads: Fredonia, New York : Nov. 22 ( no year) by E.M.H. Edwards.
    “The purchase of the old homestead in 1892 and it’s loving restoration were prompted by his ( Mr. Weeks) loyalty to the ancestral tradition and the belief that each old homestead preserved tends to create patriotism and give added stability to the government.”
    Before you pile on here and say I am making a political statement please remember that I am quoting an article that is most likely close to 100 years old.