Friday Flashback #130

Westporters love Nyala Farm.

We admire its vast, open meadows. We marvel at its ever-changing beauty. We take almost as many photos of its iconic well as we do of the cannons at Compo.

We don’t even mind that the enormous expanse of land tucked between Greens Farms Road, the Sherwood Island Connector and I-95 is an office park — one of 2 Westport headquarters for hedge fund titan Bridgewater.

We don’t mind, because we don’t see it.

What many people may not know is that Nyala Farm is not a cute, throwback name. Back in the day, it was an actual, working dairy farm.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

Generations of Westporters took field trips there. They learned that all 52 acres were bought in 1910 by E.T. Bedford.

His son, Frederick T. Bedford, named the farm in honor of the beautiful nyala (antelope) he’d seen on an African safari.

In 1970, Stauffer Chemical developed their world headquarters there. It was Westport’s first corporate office park.

That put an end to scenes like this:

(Robert Vickrey painting, courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

The cows and sleds are gone. But the well — and the memories — remain.

12 responses to “Friday Flashback #130

  1. Wow. I don’t think I ever knew about the origin of the name.

    While the days of sledding there by neighborhood kids might be distant memories, this is still a remarkable setting and it’s a wonderful example of successful preservation.

  2. The vista we see driving the stretch of Greens Farms Road looking across the Nyala Farms “pasture” is always a joy. It is a testament to the idea that open space sometimes in and of itself is valuable. No additional development, uses, etc., just good old open space. As a reminder this open space and some of the remaining buildings from the farm are preserved under a special permit negotiated with support from the Greens Farms Association with Stauffer Chemical. That permit, while it has gone through some modifications, still stands today to limit development and preserve over 22 acres of plain and simple open space.

    Art Schoeller
    Greens Farms Association

  3. Michael Calise

    Going back a bit further. The Stauffer Chemical Development was approved under Design Development District Zoning (DDD) A Zoning overlay district which was conceived and implemented (with the approval of the then appointed P & Z ) by our Town Planner at that time, Don Bremner. This beautiful project is Westport’s top tax payer and a few others under this zoning are at the top of the list as well. Although this was seen by many as visionary for the future of Westport (and this has proven to be so) the concept created a firestorm of public reaction which caused the removal of the Town Planner and a change to an elected P & Z.

    • I like Mike Calise a lot, and hesitate to correct him publicly. However, CL&P, known today as Eversource Energy, remains Westport’s top taxpayer, by 50% or so, over the owners of Nyala Corporate Park – a position my former employer took over in the middle of the last decade.

      This was because of two major infrastructure investments: the twin circuit, underground 345 kV cable project known as Middletown Norwalk, that runs in and along the Post Road, entering from Fairfield at Sasco Creek and exiting into Norwalk in front of Pepperidge Farms research center (deviating off the Post Road onto Imperial Avenue, crossing under the Saugatuck River from the Women’s Club south parking lot to the Assumption Church parking lot on Riverside Ave. at Lincoln Street, then up Lincoln to the Post Road and then westward and into Norwalk), and the newest substation to serve town, New Creek Substation, built from scratch in the early part of this decade along the south side of Metro-North railroad and on the west side of New Creek Road, just west of Greens Farms RR Station.

      Once these projects went into service, CL&P/Eversource leapt into first place, and they’ll likely remain there well into the next decade, as utility infrastructure depreciates on a slow 40 year schedule.

      • Michael Calise

        Thanks for the correction. I was of course speaking of private property development. I was totally unaware of the CL&P leap! Of Course that tax revenue is supported by all users which makes it a zero sum game if all of the improvements are solely for Westport customers. None the less large enterprise developments with few demands for services help to keep our taxes under control which benefits all of us. Thanks Again.

  4. Anyone ever find the bag of treasure hidden in the well in days of olde?

  5. There’s also an appealing vintage house on the property, quite a classic. It’s close to the road but hidden by foliage. I’d like to know more about it and who lived there. Arthur Schoeller probably knows.

  6. Edward C Saenz

    I have lived here most of my life and always enjoyed looking at Nyala Farm as I drive by

  7. It is better than the development of homes that the people of Westport wanted .

  8. Terry Brannigan Sr.

    I vividly remember field trips . I absolutely loved that place the stalls were damp dark and smelled like a barn Just as they should. The place was remarkably peaceful the cows were all lined up and within reach.

    Trips there are some of my most fondest memories. I also give credit to the planners for how stealthily the giant building hides behind the trees. They did a nice job of preserving the landscape.

    One unfortunate unintended consequence… I believe it has been determined that the boulders that were excavated during the construction of Stauffer that were “donated” by the developer to build a protective jetty at Sherwood island (they needed to dispose of them anyway) choked down the mouth of Bay in front of Old Mill Beach increasing the velocity of the water coming in with the tide (like putting your thumb over the end of a hose) causing the sand to silt in and crush the beach . The Mill Pond does not have the same power behind it to send the silt back out. Btw I am only repeating what I have been told!

    I still Love Nyala and Old Mill! Typed with my thumb from my phone!


    • Bob Weingarten

      Peter, the vintage house you referred to was built in 1879 by George Fairchild Sr. I do have more info on this house and will send later to you.