Famous Westport Building Bites The Dust

First it was world headquarters for the Famous Artists School. Joined later by Famous Writers and Famous Photographers Schools, it made Westport known all over the globe — on matchbox covers and magazine ads — as the place to send your artwork, writing and photos to become, well, famous.


Later it served as world headquarters for Save the Children.

Today, alert “06880” reader (and locally famous photographer) Chip Stephens was across the Saugatuck River, when the 60-year-old Wilton Road building was demolished.

The long view …

The site is being developed by David Waldman into a retail, restaurant and residential complex.

… and a closeup. (Photos/Chip Stephens)

34 responses to “Famous Westport Building Bites The Dust

  1. Sad. My Mom worked there back in the day. Met Bud Sagendorf (Popeye). Autographed Popeye image from him was destroyed in a fire about 10 years ago.

  2. Michael Calise

    SORRY! but due to a poorly reasoned, developer influenced, P & Z vote that view will shortly be gone forever

    • I quietly agree with you Michael, and you know this developer waited for me to come off the P&Z before re-submitting his proposal.

  3. Great gift shop 🙁

  4. Another piece of my childhood gone. sigh.
    My mother worked for Famous Writers for awhile. I can still see the workbooks she’d pore over and grade.

  5. An ugly building gone. A new tax revenue for Westport.

    • Mr. Shuldman: you might be the Will Rogers of commercial development: looks like “you’ve never met one you didn’t like”.

      • Bart Shuldman

        Bob-as The State of CT has cut funds to Westport in the millions of dollars, Westport has lost millions in state funding for things like our schools, you can put me down for someone who supports a project like the change at Save the Chidren because it adds to Westport’s revenue base. Rising property taxes helps nobody in Westport. JMHO.

  6. The end of yet another Westport era.

  7. Robert Mitchell

    C’est dommage, but life goes on. So, where’s the walkway across the river?

    • lol – you can put that in the “pretty things the developer puts in his pre-app public renderings to garner support, but has no ability or intention of doing” file . . .

      • Bart Shuldman

        Jack-how much property taxes did Save The Children pay to Westport?

        • Chip Stephens SHS '73

          The property “owner” pays same taxes any property pays, occupied or empty

          • Bart Shuldman

            Chip-as a non profit-did Save The Children pay property taxes?

            • Chip Stephens SHS '73

              In November 2013 the buildings were sold to an LLC and no longer were owned by a not for profit. So, as it generated taxes while Famous Artists and until Save the Children bought it in 1974, it has generated taxes again since 2013. We can’t bemoan the loss or absence of taxes when a not for profit moves into town nor celebrate when they leave.

              • Bart Shuldman

                Thanks Chip. So for almost 40 years that building paid ZERO property taxes to Westport until it was bought late in 2013.

      • David A. Waldman

        Jack, let me respond with the actual facts:

        Fact #1: the first application, which was consistent with the pre-app we presented to you when you sat on the P&Z never included the construction of the bridge but instead included $100,000 from the developer to assit the town in the approval process to build the pedestrian bridge. It also included a landing point on the STC side which connected to the then proposed boardwalk.

        Fact #2: also included in that original presentation was a solution to the intersection at rt. 33 and Rt 1. As I am sure you remember Jack, we showed you “pretty pictures and renderings” of the legally revised intersection which created a dedicated left hand turn lane and proper cueing per the DOT standards.

        It was not only our intention to implement those “pretty pictures” but we even went so far as to option the house on the corner so we could follow thru once we obtained our needed approvals.

        The last fact I will add is that when the P&Z, led by you and Chip, turned down our original application those “pretty pictures and renderings” had to be scrapped. This came at a great expense to our partnership and caused our team to have to re-think the development and then resubmit. When we came back to obtain our revised approvals we were fortunate that the makeup of the P&Z had changed (but in no way waited for you to leave) and after another round of lengthy public meetings, we obtained our needed approvals. In that approved revised application we never once showed the walking bridge or changes to the intersection because the delay and cost of the first application made it cost prohibitive to include this going forward. All the sitting members of the P&Z knew those items were off the table. I have never showed something in any of my applications to obtain approvals and garner support that I did not intend to create. Your comment suggests that I lied and misled the public and P&Z and I take real offense to that.

        So when the fine residents and visitors to Westport are forced to sit in traffic on Wilton Road I hope they all remember the facts.

        PS- my father did own the northern most section of the old STC building and sold it to them in the early 80’s. I am proud to be involved in a project that my father had his hands in. Makes me feel closer to him and miss him just alittle less

        • Bart Shuldman

          David. Thanks for explaining the facts. Helps to stop those that want to rant.

          Just one question-the exterior of the new building that you just finished is very basic. Can anything be done to make it more curb appealing?



          • David A. Waldman

            I have have to disagree. Those are massive ceramic rain screen panels, all of which float off the building and meet at in a perfectly symmetrical way. It is one of the most complicated facades I have installed and as you can image, was not inexpensive. Happy to walk your around. The beauty is on the simplicity.

  8. Charles Taylor

    Sad we did a Downshifters safety check in the Famous Artists lot

  9. Another one bites the dust!!!

  10. Is Don Torrey, a famous artist, still operating out of the Westport area??

  11. The bridge would be awesome!!!

  12. Wait – I thought the FAS buildings were the ones that Waldman just turned into glitzy glass boxes for the Hedge Fund folks. Which is the building that was knocked down?

  13. David: I think that your father’s early success stemmed from that site.

  14. It’s so wonderful to live in Waldport. mmm

  15. Sharon Paulsen

    Where is Save the Children located now … can someone confirm? Another Westport location?

  16. With all this wonderful progress on Rt 33 enhancing all our lives and pocketbooks, is there any hope for a left turn lane at the Rt 1 intersection, or can we expect to have a 1/2 mile line-up at that light?

    • William Strittmatter

      What I’ve never understood is why anyone going south on Route 33 and wanting to make a left turn onto the Post Road would even go that way. Although there are a couple of extra lights, it is generally much quicker and less traffic hassle (for everyone) to cross the river at Kings Highway and approach downtown (or points east) from Main/Avery/Myrtle.

      Or do locals do that and it is only out-of-towners that make the left from 33?

  17. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    This is a great start. Now its time for Mr. Waldman to turn his sights on that POS that was built by ydeerg sseletsat selohssa on Wright St. (I’ll save Gorham Island for later)