Friday Flashback #120

Last week’s demolition of the old Positano’s restaurant — remembered by real old-time Westporters as its earlier incarnation, Café de la Plage — evoked a welter of emotions.

It also revived memories of Allen’s Clam House, the other waterfront restaurant in the otherwise residential  neighborhood.

Allen’s was right around the corner, on Sherwood Mill Pond. Built in 1890 by Captain Walter Allen, customers flocked there for seafood — and views — from as far as New York.

Allen’s Clam House, in the 1940s.

It was the go-to place for generations of celebrations — proms, anniversaries, holidays, you name it.

An aerial view of Allen’s Clam House, on the Sherwood Mill Pond. (Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

In 1999, the restaurant and surrounding .83-acre property was up for sale. To protect it from the developers, the town bought it for $1.2 million. Private donations — including $50,000 each from Paul Newman and Harvey Weinstein — defrayed part of the cost.

The restaurant was torn down a few years later. Today — thanks to efforts of Sherry Jagerson, and a group of dedicated volunteers — the land is known as the Sherwood Mill Pond Preserve.

It’s one of Westport’s hidden-in-plain-sight gems. Of course, you can’t buy clams there any more.

But you can bring your own, and have a very fine picnic indeed.

Captain Allen and his wife Lida, in front of the clam house.

25 responses to “Friday Flashback #120

  1. Very tasty food combined with a beautiful serene setting. What more could you ask for? I have a recollection of celebrating at least one birthday there with my family.

  2. What’s happened to this town? They were both such great places.


  4. Heard that already. The economy is on economy is on the edge real problems.

    Sent from my iPhone Gary

  5. Arthur Klausner

    OK, so I can’t resist one Allen’s Clam House story.

    Back in the ‘70s, the restaurant was run by the Uccellini family, and the patriarch (I believe) served at maitre d’. My parents would go there for lobster just about every Saturday night, and one evening my Dad got into a discussion with Mr. Uccellini about World War II. Now my Dad considered himself a history buff, and it seemed that Mr. Uccellini’s first-hand accounts of various battles just wasn’t quite right.

    Until Dad realized that Mr. Uccellini had been fighting FOR THE OTHER SIDE!

    I miss my Dad, that place, and those good old days….

    • Sharon Paulsen

      Wow, that’s so interesting!

      Is there more to that story, history wise, that your Dad might have shared with you?

      Either way, that was a really cool tidbit to mention here!

  6. Sending a shout out to my good friend, Karen Ucellini!!!

  7. Loved Allen’s Clam House. all important family events were celebrated there.

  8. Did you know that it was my mother, Mary Riordan Allen, Walter Allen Jr.’s wife, who made sure that developers did not get Allen’s Clam House? She spearheaded the sale to the town, at a lower price than developers would have given her (and her niece and nephew) for the property? She and the children of Bury Allen and Beulah Allen were the last owners.

    Emily Allen


  9. When I first came to Westport to live, in the early 70s, I stayed at Burr Allen’s old home — right next door to Allen’s Clam House — with my sister’s family Dianne (was on the Conservation Commission) and her husband Steve van der Veen (he grew up here in Westport). The Uccellini’s were so nice, and they made really wonderful neighbors. They’d fix us parfaits, and we’d return the glasses in the morning. The things we remember! (A little like Uber Eats, no car needed…)

  10. As a ‘townie’ and life long Westporter Allen’s was our favorite. Even have a watercolor of it on our porch.
    And kudos to the wonderful Sherry Jagerson & co. for making such a serene spot where in its place!

  11. Thanks to Diane Farrell and her old mill residents for losing Allen’s clam House. What a disgrace that was. Great family and great Restaurant. Another great Westport landmark.

  12. Sharon Paulsen

    God, how I miss Allen’s Clam House!

    I can still smell it. The approach, from the kitchen vents. The herbs and sea, from within.

    1970’s with family, early 80’s with high school friends.

    Shortly before it’s demise, I took my father, Tony Paulsen, who was by then a Sanibel Island resident, back for one last grand meal there.

    He was the one who “introduced me” to Allen’s, when I was a tot, and taught me the in’s and out’s of how to eat a lobster “properly” and as “messily” as possible.

    “Dip that tiny morsel, from the farthest reaches, achingly dug out of that claw, into the last bit of melted butter, from that little metal vestibule, and relish the taste”!

    Those little plastic bibs, with the lobster on the front, sure fit the bill … for us Townie Tots and adults alike.

    There’s a good chance I could be thinking of the Clam Box too, where those bibs were ready at hand for little gals like me, ready to tackle the crustaceans!

    Anyway, I learned how to eat lobster with abandon, in Westport. Wouldn’t have it any other way!

  13. Laura Lawhon-Butler

    Loved Allen’s stuffed lobster .. was always on our itinary when we’d fly in from Southern California to see my dad (Peter Horelick)…lots of good memories.. was sad the first time I drove by and it was gone…. now Mario’s is gone…I don’t want to get started on all the great places I miss…

  14. J Scott Broder

    Like many of us, our family loved the food and water view ambiance of Allen’s Clam House. These type of classic family run restaurants are sadly a dying type facility. Certainly here in WESTPORT many wonderful memories of such restaurants now long gone from former earlier times.

  15. Edward C Saenz

    I remember Allen’s Clam House and the last owners. My youngest son was friends with the owner’s son. I also had dinner and lunches at Positano. What a nice view. Westport is great and do was Paul Newman who I knew personally

  16. I worked at Allens Clam House in the 1970s. Busboy, fry cook, parking attendant. Wayne Uccelini, his father and the whole family were wonderful people. They employed lots of high school kids in those days. Many fond memories including the night I was bussing the back station by the parking lot and I saw one of the parking attendants (whose name I will limit to Tommy) park a car, and run back to the front to get another customers car. And as he did so, the car he just parked rolled into the Mill pond, and floated out in front of the restaurant, and sank with just the roof visible! Good laugh was had by all except the couple who had just sat down to dinner, and Tommy–who swore he applied the parking brake.

  17. My Mother, Mary Allen, the last remaining owner of Allen’s, refused a better offer from developers in order for the town and contributors to buy it and preserve the property. Martha Stewart and many private parties also contributed. The preserve is a natural beauty – thanks to Sherry and her volunteers.

  18. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Just out of college I went to work for Moore Business Forms in Fairfield. My boss offered a soup to nuts dinner at Allen’s for making my numbers that month. Oh the taste of success was sweet!

  19. Don L. Bergmann

    While almost all miss Allen’s I am so pleased Dan’s story mentioned Sherry Jaegerson and her leadership and ongoing hard work creating and maintaining the Mill Pond Preserve. Thanks to Bonnie Allen above for also mentioning Sherry.
    Don Bergmann

    • Sharon Paulsen


      I was a close friend of Wendy Jagerson in grade school (if this is the same family … I don’t want to mistake my assumptions on the family name here).

      But, if it’s the same Sherry J., Wendy’s mom, then I am glad to learn of her involvement with the Mill Pond Preserve. What I recall about Sherry is that she was a prolific sailer, and a woman of liberal conviction!

      And I loved hanging out and exploring life with her smart and outgoing kids, way back then.

      (Just a little bit of childhood/teen history here, but likely boring to the general readers, so I won’t divulge, especially if I’ve got my memories/names mixed up, LOL).

  20. Worked there washing dishes, bus boy and waiter as high school and college student. Great place to work.I think your story about the demise of the restaurant was a little “sanitized”. The town reneged on a deal that they had with the Uccelini’s and bought the property.