They said it couldn’t be done: Set up a Holiday House Tour of only historic houses in Westport.
Ed Gerber did it.
For this year’s 31st annual event, the Westport Historical Society past president identified 7 great homes. Then he got the owners to open them for 5 hours on Sunday, December 10 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), so that history (and real estate) buffs could tour them.
(Gerber also makes sure they’re decorated festively. Holiday decor is a big draw each year.)
Six were built before 1850. Five of the homes are historic landmarks. The one that is not technically historic — unless you think, at 51 years old, it qualifies — is a saltbox reproduction done so well, you’d think it’s stood since Revolutionary times.
One of the homes is Gerber’s own — a beauty on Cross Highway we all admire often. What, you thought the co-chair of a Westport Historical Society fundraiser would live in a modern McMansion?
Homes on the tour include:
- “Duck Haven,” a house and cottage on the Saugatuck River adjacent to the historic low-tide crossing point
- A 1760s saltbox remodeled 15o years later — in 1910! — in Colonial Revival style
- An early Colonial updated in the 1880s in the fashionable Italianate style, whose owners uncovered an original back staircase
- The “David Judah House,” circa 1760, whose current owner meticulously preserved every nail, piece of timber and window
- Westport’s 2nd-oldest school building, now a handsome home
- That reproduction saltbox, built in 1966 and looking very historic
- An adaptive reuse of an old barn into a residence.
Gerber says, “Whenever you research historic houses, you find interesting links.” This time, he learned that 4 of the 7 residences were once owned by noted artists: John Held, master Jazz Age illustrator; painter Caroline Bean; landscape master Ossip Linde, and George Hand Wright, often called “the dean of Westport artists.”
Speaking of links, how about this: Miggs Burroughs — heir to that arts colony legacy pioneered by Wright — photographed all 7 doorways on this year’s Holiday House Tour.
He combined them all in a poster and logo, for “Holiday Doors of Westport.”
Be sure to register now, so you can see what’s behind those historic doors.
(The Westport Historical Society’s Holiday House Tour is Sunday, December 10, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $50 for members and $60 for non-members in advance; $70 on the day of the tour. For more information, or to purchase tickets, click here; go to the WHS at 25 Avery Place, or call 203-222-1424.)