Street Spotlight: Woods Grove Road

Some Westporters live on the water. Others live in the woods, or close to town.

But only residents of Woods Grove Road enjoy the Saugatuck River on two sides — with Coffee An’ just beyond.

Plus, of course, an easy stroll downtown.

Woods Grove is off Canal Street, on the right just past the parking lot for the old 323 restaurant, heading west toward Kings Highway.

Woods Grove Road is close to downtown. I’s bordered by 2 branches of the Saugatuck River.

AJ Izzo — owner of the old Crossroads Ace Hardware, another great close-by attraction (now replaced by an excellent liquor store) — says that when he grew up on nearby Richmondville Avenue, the area was woods, and a dirt road. Most houses were built in the 1940s and ’50s.

Ken Bernhard — who moved there from around the corner — calls Woods Grove “a charming respite.”

It’s a dead-end, so there’s little traffic. But it’s a long, winding road, so there are plenty of families. Kids play in the street. Neighbors chat.

Woods Grove Road is well named.

A “watering hole” features a dock and rope swing. “There’s nothing more pleasant than the sound of kids laughing and splashing,” he says.

The main branch of the river is great for canoeing and kayaking. Every morning, Ken says, a neighbor on the Wilton Road side paddles — with his German shepherd — to the dam and back. Everyone waves.

The neighborliness extends to Aquarion. The water utility owns land across the river. A while back, the pumping station made a distracting, growling sound. Ken offered to buy equipment to deaden the noise.

Nope, Aquarion said. They did it themselves.

A Woods Grove back yard.

Ken calls Woods Grove “delightful. The houses are not big, and the lots are not too large. Everything is the perfect size — just as much as we need.”

Besides Coffee An’ and the Merritt Country Store, residents can walk or bike to the library and Levitt. The Y — and Merritt Parkways exits 41 and 42 — are around the corner.

Yet one of the most interesting features of Woods Grove Road is one that neighbors barely mention.

A non-profit enterprise — the Westport School of Music — is located in a house halfway down the road. Established in 1938, it’s got a great reputation.

The Westport School of Music looks like any other home.

Students come and go quietly. There’s a little more traffic because of it than normal, but Woods Grove residents hardly notice. They’re happy to be near such a well-regarded, artistic enterprise.

Life on Woods Grove Road is good. Between the beautiful river and delicious donuts, who can complain?

12 responses to “Street Spotlight: Woods Grove Road

  1. Isn’t this street notorious for flooding?

  2. If it were, right now would be a time to look.

  3. Always been a wonderful road. Some really nice people (I’ll include Ken)!

  4. Woods Grove is wonderful, scenic street with great history (The Wood family operated the huge, water powered Phoenix Mill complex there starting in 1828). I like the fact that the neighborhood is framed by the river on one side and Lees Canal on the other. It appears that the canal was never actually a canal in the traditional sense, but rather a tail race for the giant turbine at Lees Mfg Co. Either way, it’s almost as if Woods Grove is an island.

  5. Richard Vogel

    Holy Smokes…What a nice surprise to see this piece written about Woods Grove Road. My family and I live on it and LOVE everything about it. Come visit sometime and enjoy a refreshing river plunge!

  6. Michael Calise

    A Great Street full of great people!

  7. When I was a kid there was a huge gravel bank in Woods Grove just beyond the house that later had the music school. My friend Charles, who lived on Canal Street, and I used to climb up the gravel bank and slide down – great fun!

  8. Mary Cookman Schmerker

    Thanks for the map! I really had to think….. an area of homes off Canal street…some where near Lees Dam. Roseville Road near by. That was an area where we used to roam and come up with stories about Indians and Red Coats and almost anything that we could imagine. next time I am in town I’ll check it out and be delighted I am sure.

    • Well, the Redcoats were certainly nearby; they held off Benedict Arnold and his troops at the nearby Kings Highway Bridge on their way back from sacking Danbury in April of 1777. It’s sort of embarrassing that our new town web site managed to somehow mangle this important historic occurrence by combining it with another significant Revolutionary War event which greatly impacted what is now Westport; the Burning of Fairfield in July of 1779. But let’s not dwell on that little detail; who needs history – or even accuracy – when we’ve now got a goofy, melted “W” logo to take the place of our beloved Minuteman?

      • Mary Cookman Schmerker

        We still need our history and need to remind others. It is supposed to be the way you keep from making mistakes! I should say the same mistakes. Keep up the good work of reminding all of us.

  9. Amy L. Y. Day

    It was a great street on which to grow up. We lived right behind the Westport School of Music from 1957 until 1965. Always lots of kids on the street…besides us Yergin kids there were the Rendlemans, the Karcheres, the Northrops, the Cuccios, the Levkoffs and more. Great for Halloween trick or treating. And everyone went barefoot all summer even running on our long gravel driveway and the hot sticky asphalt of the road. We got to walk to Bedford Elementary. (Good thing, because my mother didn’t learn to drive until after we moved up to Westport from the city.) When we first moved there, I remember that there was no light at the corner of Canal and Main Street so you had to really be careful crossing Canal. And I didn’t know the actual name of the Merritt Superette for a long time…we just referred to it as the corner store. In the winter, my father would spread out a sheet of plastic over the flat back yard and flood it so that we would have a skating rink there. And the Smiths next door grew rhubarb in their back garden. All good memories.

  10. Rosemary Milligan

    I remember Woods Grove so well, used to swim in the river next to friends house and then took piano lessons (not for long)! at the Music School but the best part for a 12 year old was walking home and stoping at the Merritt Superette for candy before heading home to North Compo Rd. – a long, long time ago.

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