From time to time, Scott Smith turns his eye on the Westport that most of us see every day, but seldom think about.
Having lived in Westport for 25 years, I’ve heard plenty about teardowns, and the McMansions that relentlessly rise in their place.
I prize the sheer variety of architectural styles still found throughout 06880, from the Revolutionary-era Colonials, the gingerbread Victorians and Frazier Peters stone homes, to the ’60s-era contemporaries and more uniquely modern one-offs.
What I haven’t heard much about is the history of Westport’s more modest houses.
I’m familiar with the ubiquitous Cape style (having lived in one), and know there are several neighborhoods in town filled with Capes — Washington Avenue near downtown and Fairport Road on the other end of town, to name two.
I’m curious about not just these suburban standbys but, to be frank, the tract houses built a la Levittown, by a developer who used the same basic template to fill a street — even whole neighborhoods — with similar houses.
Most of these developments likely date from the 1950s. That is probably the case with Guyer Road, a nearby street I jog along, marveling at the vintage style of the homes.
They look like a variation of a California ranch, with canted rooflines to handle the New England snow. Many have been remodeled of course, but with some you can still see the stamp of the founding design. Do the homeowners swap tales, tips and gripes, or know the history of the original builder?
I’m sure there are other such enclaves. I recall Saugatuck Shores having more cookie-cutter homes, before floods and the real estate market transformed the area into something else.
I imagine there are even older developments, from the pre-war era. I figure that one of the later “planned communities” — the Gault neighborhood off Imperial — doesn’t quite qualify, as they seem to be a related mix of custom homes. Same with the recently built Hales Court development, which is a different matter altogether.
I’d be intrigued to hear from residents of some of these old-school neighborhoods. I’d like to get the back story of who built them, perhaps what these homes first sold for, and if any untouched versions still exist. I bet not. Just the same, they are a part of 06880’s continuing history.