As part of Westport’s fundraising for Lyman — our new sister city in Ukraine — “06880” auctioned off a painting of Marigny-le-Louzon, France.
It was donated by our friends in Marigny, Westport’s other sister city. The relationship extends more than 75 years. We helped the Normandy town rebuild after World War II. Now, together, we are helping another ravaged place, this one in Ukraine.
Wendy Van Wie won the painting, with a bid of $1,500. But there’s more to this story than just a Westport resident helping an important relief effort.
Wendy and her husband Mark Yurkiw live on Cross Highway. Their home — the Meeker homestead — stood on the route taken by British soldiers in 1777, as they headed to Danbury to burn an arsenal. (A musket ball lodged in the door provided evidence of the event.)
Wendy and Mark bought the foreclosed property in 2003. After 2 centuries, the barn and 1728 saltbox house — already half a century old when the British marched past — had fallen into disrepair.
The couple rehabilitated their home, barn and cottage. Their attention to detail earned them a 2017 Historic District Commission preservation award.
Today it’s known as the Schilthuis-Meeker house. Sally Schilthuis was influential in preventing construction of Merritt Parkway Exit 43 in the area, resulting in the current “No Man’s Land” between Exits 42 and 44.
Schilthuis died in 1975. Her obituary noted that her barn served as a meeting place for Westporters planning aid for post-war Marigny.
The barn still serves an important relief role. Mark — whose heritage is Ukrainian — has worked tirelessly since the Russian invasion began to provide help for his homeland.
His current project –besides playing a key role with Lyman — is collecting generators, chain saws, sleeping bags, phone power banks, kerosene heaters, rechargeable batteries, blankets, pillows, warm winter clothing and more. It’s sent overseas, when space becomes available in shipping containers.
The gear — all donated by generous Westporters — is stored in that very same barn. (You can still help. Call Mark: 646-873-0050.)
As part of Wendy and Mark’s historic preservation work, they received a perpetual easement. Their barn is protected from any future demolition.
That’s where Wendy’s new painting will hang. It will keep the story of the Westport/Marigny connection — and the 2 towns’ new relationship with Lyman — alive.
“Long after Mark and I are gone, this will remind and inspire future generations,” Wendy says.
“The painting, and its back story, will become a permanent part of the permanent barn.”
Tax-deductible donations can still be made to Westport’s sister city, Lyman, through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).
I couldn’t possibly love this story more.
So, KUDOS to ALL!!
However, a little “context” might be in order (for those of us flatulents who may be confused).
Have Mark and Wendy and their restored lovely home become the functional successors to the now evidently defunct former Westport Historical Society? (If so, that’s good because it needed one).
What is the role of Minitrue (Ministry of Truth – Avery Place for those who don’t understand Newspeak or Orwellian prose) going to be from this point forward? Will it continue to rule the town’s moral code?
Am I alone in sensing a vacuum that Mark and Wendy have filled?
How are the cookbook sales going at the location on Avery Place?
What about the Wall of Remembrance (or was that merely a distraction?)
Happy New Year to ALL!!!!
Excited at what the New Year can bring as Westport rediscovers it’s true heritage!!!
Out With The Old and In With The New!!! (or was it the other way around?)
Nancy Hunter Wilson 2.0. Sigh.
Context si vous plait?
Lol, I was thinking the same thing Petra.
This is a magnificent article!
Mark and Wendy have done some very special things for the heritage of the town, not just in purchasing the beautiful painting and donating the money toward Ukraine, but to connect the past to the present as they frequently welcome visitors to the barn and touch the beams or walk on the original wide plank floors. How natural it is, therefore, for the painting to find its enduring place in the history of Westport and for Dan to feature it in its perfect context.
wow that is one cool house/barn/cottage.