Friday Flashback #339

Last week’s “Friday Flashback” featured a photo, from Facebook, of National Hall.

When Clayton Liotta took it, around 1976, the handsome building was home to Fairfield Furniture. Clayton’s image reminded us that our downtown is both timeless, and always-changing.

Clayton posted another photo recently. This one shows a structure that exists now only in memories.

(Photo/Clayton Liotta)

The Victorian home on Gorham Island is remembered fondly by many.

The Victorian house on Gorham Island. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

But — as Clayton’s circa 1975 shot, and another one by Peter Barlow (below, from 1973) shows — by that decade it had begun to show its age.

Close-up of the Gorham Island house. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

Within a few years, it was demolished. In its place today is a much less memorable — and, some would say, way out of place — office building:

Gorham Island office building (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


In its final days, the old house looked spooky.

For good reason.

Around 2 a.m. on the morning of July 4, 1961 Brendan McLaughlin β€” a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive β€” shot and killed his father there, during a family argument.

McLaughlin fled. An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road. He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.

He was chased into the parking lot, where he shot officer Andrew Chapo. A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.

Chapo and Bennette recovered.Β  McLaughlin died several weeks later.

FUN FACT: Though it looked like it belong there, the Gorham Island house was originally built on Main Street. It was later relocated to the island.

(Westport has plenty of history — and “06880” keeps it alive. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)


5 responses to “Friday Flashback #339

  1. Rumor has it that dad’s ghost is still running amok in that office building and if you bring a dog inside his ghost will scare your dog πŸ‘»πŸ‘»πŸ‘»πŸ˜‚πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

  2. Cool story…

  3. There was a suburban legend among teens that it was a house of ill repute in the 70’s

  4. David J. Loffredo

    P&Z in the 70’s and 80’s really let Westport down.

  5. In the 80s, the mansion had been demolished and removed. Teenagers and early 20s hippy types would hang out on the rocks and dive into the river on summer days. It was quite the spot, then. Of course, an organization called Save Gorham Island Now was formed as soon as it became the future sight of an office building. Natural open space was appreciated by many, in the heart of downtown surrounded by the marsh and riverscape. A piece of old Westport became commercialized. We all realized that the times were a-changing.

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