Turkey Hill House Earns Historic Preservation Award

It’s easy to see all the teardowns in town.

Sometimes we focus on them so much, we miss the preservation efforts going on nearby.

Preservation Connecticut notices. In fact, they’ve given the owners of 70 Turkey Hill Road South a Connecticut Preservation Award — one of only 10 in the state. The virtual ceremony is May 5.

The 2-story, 1,230-square foot 1892 farmhouse was completely restored last year.

Rahul Ghai and his wife Priyanka Singh bought the property in November 2019. They had several options. They could demolish the 127-year-old house and build a new one; a demolition permit had already been issued to the previous owners.

They could keep the building as it was, and build a new home on the premises.

Or they could restore it — and also build a new house nearby.

70 Turkey Hill Road South in 2019, before restoration …

The couple decided to restore the 1892 structure, and also build a large house, using a Westport 32-18 regulation obtained by the prior owners. Such a plan — which has prevented 22 other historic structures from being demolished — must be approved by a joint Architectural Review and Historic District Commission committee, then by the Planning & Zoning Commission.

Ghai and Singh hired Christopher Pagliaro, the architect for the previous owners. He worked with them to restore both the exterior and interior.

Work was extensive. All vinyl siding was removed, and replaced with wood. The asphalt roof was replaced with cedar shingles. All windows were replaced. The original front and rear porches — which had been enclosed as living space throughout the years — were recreated.

… during the project …

A number of homeowners have demolished homes the size of 70 Turkey Hill South, replacing them with larger, more modern houses. The Preservation Award press release notes that Westport is “sometimes called Connecticut’s teardown capital.”

The 32-18 regulation shows that those older homes can be retained — while simultaneously allowing construction of new ones.

Singh noted, “We are strongly committed to restoration and preservation of historical structures. Our school-age daughter is also passionate about history. But we couldn’t have done it without our architect Chris, and Ryan Fletcher of Fletcher Development.”

… and after.

Certificates will be presented to the owners, architect, contractor, town of Westport and the Westport Museum of History & Culture.

(Hat tip: Bob Weingarten, house historian for the Westport Museum of History & Culture, who nominated 70 Turkey Hill Road South for the 2021 Preservation Award.)

11 responses to “Turkey Hill House Earns Historic Preservation Award

  1. Bravo! It’s simply beautiful. Thank you for preserving an antique and piece of history!

  2. Rick Carpenter

    A good perspective re too much focus on tear downs and not enough attention on the widespread and fabulous work on remodeling and restoration. And, this house awarded here is absolutely beautiful.

  3. Debbie O'Malley

    As someone who lives around the corner and drives by it every day, thank you Rahul and Priyanka for the beautiful restoration you have done to
    this house. Every detail i can see is just beautiful, and you have made it look sparkling and updated while retaining its charm.

  4. “Connecticut’s teardown capital.” It would be nice if we could shake that designation.

    Congratulations to these folks – looks like they did a nice job and made a positive contribution to our town.

  5. Bob Weingarten

    For those that don’t know, the Historic District Commission (HDC) has the capability to deny teardown requests for historic houses for 180 days for the purpose of discussing alternatives with the owner. But if the number of days are changed to 365 days, by local ordinance, then we could greatly reduce the number of historic teardowns. Speak to your RTM representatives.

  6. Donald Bergmann

    Thanks to all for this effort, especially the owners. Bob Weingarten was on the HDC and has long been active in preserving the past. Ordinances can be changed as Bob suggests. 32-18 is an example of a good preservation ordinance. I was advised that 32-18 could not have been used to address the recent tear demolition and four lot subdivision approved for the A.E. Hotchner house. I true, 32-18 could be amended to expand its scope. So, do contact the RTM, but also contact the HDC and its members.
    Don Bergmann

  7. David Squires (Staples ‘75)

    Wonderful seeing this progress every day!
    The finished produce will be a Real Gem!
    Now, if we could only get a few of Walter M’s
    Tomato Plants back…. YUM!

  8. Bob Weingarten

    Morley, thanks for comments. I didn’t realize that but I recall that initially the time period was 90 days and now is 180 days. So, it can be changed if enough people propose changes. So, notes to the RTM and HDC are necessary. But I do understand the issue.

    • Right. It was 90. And I persuaded the RTM to up it to 180 – but I only brought that request because the underlying state statute allows municipalities to go to a 180 day delay. If you want to fix something, how about addressing the fact that there is actually NO PENALTY for violating Westport’s demolition delay ordinance. It doesn’t matter if you up the delay to 500 years if it’s just a serving suggestion.

      BTW, that Spanish Revival residence that, until recently, stood roughly across the street from this house was stripped of everything of value – in broad daylight – while under the demo delay. Everyone saw it happening. And I do mean everyone. But what you likely don’t know is that an interested buyer who wanted to preserve the house was quietly located during the time in question. However, when he saw that the building was just a husk he walked.

  9. Marianne Seggerman

    I used to live at 48 South Turkey Hill Road (yup the old Martha Stewart place – years before her then husband bought it) and am horrified at the McMansioning of the neighborhood so it’s a big yay to anyone leaving an old house alone.

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