Friday Flashback #94

A couple of days ago, I posted a photo of the end of a well-known house.

Toni Cunningham’s Soundview Drive home — familiar to every Compo Beach goer, and the longtime unofficial headquarters of the Compo Beach Improvement Association — fell to the wrecking ball this week.

It was a poignant shot (click here to see).

But there’s much more to the house than my brief summary.

Alert “06880” resident Tom Leyden — a longtime beach neighborhood resident — quickly sent along this photo. It’s from 1920 — and it shows the Cunningham house standing almost alone on the road.

In the distance is the vast pavilion — with a 2nd floor. It was the site of big dances and other gatherings, until a hurricane roared through

But wait! There’s more!

Tom also sent this photo:

He explains:

I have a record of 90% of the beach property owners, going back to the original ownership by the Bradleys in 1909.

They mapped their property into lots, mostly 50 x 100. Sam Roodner (of Roodner Court fame in Norwalk) bought up many of the lots, and sold them off during the early 1920s

The Cunningham property was an exception, as Irving Bradley sold to Lockwood in 1911. I’m guessing the house was built around 1915.

According to property records, the Cunningham family bought the house in 1945.

Tom and his family live on lots 88/90.

Paul Lane — longtime Staples High School football coach, who grew up on Soundview, and lives next door to the now-former Cunningham house — has a framed copy of the plot map above.

It hangs on the wall of his home, just a few feet from what is now — once again — an empty lot.

8 responses to “Friday Flashback #94

  1. Peter Barlow

    The house in the photo doesn’t look like the Cunningham house in the tear-down photo. But I have a slight memory that Mrs. Cunningham first lived
    in another house on Soundview Ave., the one that Gail and Terry Coen later moved into. About the “pavilion” in the distance, that second floor lasted until the hurricane of 1950. (That’s the second of three Compo buildings known as the Pavilion – the first was the concession stand out by the road which later was called “Chubby Lane’s”).

    • Thanks, Peter. Tom Leyden has pretty extensive records, and I think is sure this is the correct house in the photo. This one certainly had plenty of work done to it over the years.

  2. Tom Leyden

    Paul Lane took me for a tour of the empty house when it was first offered for sale by the Cunningham estate. Paul’s son Skip was an agent for the then sale. Paul pointed out all the additions and changes made to the original 1915ish era house including the large second floor sun room overlooking the beach. No question it’s the same house. Many beach “cottages” where renovated/upgraded. Our home built in 1927/8 would not be recognized by the original owner (Millie Shaw) as we have made significant changes/additions to the property which we have lived in since 1971. A previous owner raised our house after the hurricane of 1938 and winterized it. Up until then it was unheated. Gail Cunningham’s home which was demolished last year and a new home being built on that property is another story.

  3. Betsy Phillips-Kahn

    Hey… I think the last 2 rows became ??town property/ and are now–overflow parking lot. And … I THINK? That house may be the beautiful stucco home (2nd from parking lot) that is still standing and not Cunningham’s

    Dan can you add pic?

  4. Bonnie Bradley

    Twins Ernest and Irving Bradley were my father’s (J. Kenneth Bradley) great uncles – but always referred to as plain “Uncle Ernest” and “Uncle Irving” in the family. Their father was David Bradley, who lost the beach to the town in a lawsuit in Connecticut Superior Court about five years prior to the map’s creation. The Bradley farmhouse is located on the lower left point of the map – still standing today on the corner of Compo Beach Road and Appletree Trail. In those days Soundview was just a sand and dirt road.

  5. Sharon Paulsen

    Wow, that’s amazing seeing that stretch of Soundview like that … so empty!

    Old pictures can be so fascinating.

    Cool follow up, Dan. Thanks!

  6. Sheila C Perry

    I just need to all one little piece of information. The house was moved to that spot from north on the Weston border. It was rolled to the location on logs (sans porch) and sat above the foundation (there are other pictures showing this) until being lowered. The superstructure was hewn logs, some with the bark still on and stumps of branches protruding that could be seen from the cellar. I am sure the demolition crew were surprised!