Category Archives: Beach

Eno House: The Sequel

Yesterday’s post about LandTech’s plan to save the Eno Foundation building generated plenty of comments.

Some referenced the handsome waterfront estate directly across Saugatuck Avenue. Owned by Foundation founder William Phelps Eno — the father of modern-day traffic devices like stop signs, pedestrian crosswalks and 1-way streets — it was one of the most majestic mansions in Westport.

Yet as several commenters noted, it met an inglorious end.

Here — with research help from alert “06880” reader/amateur historian/ace realtor Mary Palmieri Gai — is the back story.

I could not find any photos of William Phelps Eno’s Saugatuck Avenue estate. Here is what the property looks like today, after subdivisions.

According to a January 7, 1996 New York Times story, Eno’s estate commanded a sweeping view of the mouth of the Saugatuck River and Long Island Sound. However, the 119-year-old, 15,000-square foot, 32-room 1877 Colonial Revival — featuring an inside hall with 8 fluted columns, a ballroom with an octagonal entryway, built-in organ, and bathrooms tiled in marble — had been unoccupied for 9 years. In wretched condition, it was being offered for a bargain price.

One dollar.

The only caveat: “Cash and carry. You buy it, you move it.”

Oh, yeah: It could not fit under the nearby railroad bridge. So it would have to be put on a barge — all 200 feet of it — and floated down the Sound.

Over the following months the Maritime Center, Anthony Quinn and Diana Ross all expressed interest. But the $500,000 moving cost — and $1.7 million price tag for restoration — scared them off.

The Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation tried to shop the mansion for use as a museum, B&B or inn.

Sherwood Island State Park was interested too. On November 19, 1996, the Times noted that thanks to loans, gifts and pledges, the Eno mansion would be floated 2 miles away, to Sherwood Island State Park.

Sitting on land donated by the state, it would be open to the public for exhibits about Connecticut’s historic homes, as well as conferences and celebrations. The top floors would be used as offices by non-profit preservation and environmental groups.

Sherwood Island State Park: one possible site for the Eno mansion.

A house mover was hired. He planned a system of pulleys to tug the house to the barge. At Sherwood Island, huge dollies would pull it a mile inland. The process would take 3 months.

But, the Times reported 2 months later, the State Department of Environmental Protection reversed its initial approval. After 200 people signed a petition opposing the move, the DEP acknowledged there were too many questions about the impact on wetlands and wildlife.

And that was that. Eventually, the house was demolished. The land was subdivided into five 1-acre lots.

Today there is nothing left of William Phelps Eno’s estate. Fortunately — thanks to LandTech — his Foundation across the street will not meet the same fate.

Oh yeah: According to Westport architectural historian Morley Boyd, some of the house’s elaborate interior was salvaged by volunteers.

“Those materials did hard time in a trailer upstate,” he says. “But the last I knew, they were being woven into the restoration of another structure by the same architect.”

Hey, Stella!

Stella — the “Blizzard” of 2017 — has limped away.

All she left were a few final photos:

The Compo Beach pavilion …

… and a bench near the Ned Dimes Marina. Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photos/Nicola Sharian)

(Photo/Peter Tulupman)

So What Are You Gonna Do Now With All That Milk And Eggs?

Trader Joe’s and Stop & Shop were stripped nearly bare. Gas stations were jammed. The Blizzard of the Year Decade Century Millennia Entire History of the Universe Since the Big Bang was coming!

It snowed this morning. The wind blew. A couple dozen homes were without power.

Ninety minute later, the juice was back on.

That was pretty much the story today. There was a storm for sure, and a bit of flooding. But to find the last time predictions were so far off, you have to go way back to November 8.

It was a day for Netflix. Finishing your taxes. And for Westport students to do homework.

Because you know — the Forecast of Doom notwithstanding — they’ll be back in school tomorrow.

Snow will fall. But birds have to feed. Kathie Motes Bennewitz made sure they had enough to eat.

Saugatuck Shores and coastal areas got hit with flooding, from the wind, high tide and full moon. When the storm receded, Max and Logan Manchester kayaked down Spriteview Avenue.

Water whipped up against Schlaet’s Point, on Hillspoint Road… (Photo/Ian Warburg)

…and nearby Compo Beach. (Photo/Ian Warburg)

This morning — with a statewide travel ban in effect — I-95 was deserted. This is the view looking north, from the Hales Road overpass. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

Sure Looks Like Great Weather From Here!

This was the view a couple of hours ago off Compo Beach, from Alan Hamilton’s quadcopter/drone:

Click on or over hover to enlarge.

Things are expected to look a bit different tomorrow morning.

Meanwhile, alert “06880” reader — and concerned generator owner — Bart Shuldman reminds readers of important safety tips, in case you lose power in the upcoming blizzard:

If you are lucky enough to have a generator, you need to know it needs oil. Depending on the size and type, when running it will need oil once a day, every other day, or every 3 days. Your generator will stop running if and when the oil pressure drops.

Here is how to see how much oil you have — and if necessary, how to change it:

Open the panels that surround the generator. Find the one where the electrical panel is. If the unit is on, turn off the unit first — not the breaker. Your switch should have a middle “off” position. Once the unit is off, wait 30 seconds — then turn the breaker off.

Once everything is off, look for the dipstick. Pull it out, wipe it clean, replace it and see if the oil shows up on the stick. There will be minimum and maximum marks. If below the minimum, add oil.

Find the oil turn cover on top of the unit. Open it up and add the oil (you may need a funnel). Add half a can, then use your dipstick and look again. Add until the oil is close to maximum level.

Once finished, replace the oil cover and put back the oil dipstick.

When starting your generator again, turn on the unit first — not the breaker. Wait a few seconds, then turn the breaker on. Then replace all covers. Your generator will work for at least another day.

 

 

Serene Scene

Today’s snow was as nice as any in mid-March can be.

It was lovely. It was light. The roads were warm enough to melt it instantly. Kids got a day off from school. (Bonus: A 3-day weekend.)

Alert “06880” photographer Andrew Colabella captured this gorgeous Compo Beach scene:

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Andrew Colabella)

Spring is right around the corner. Daylight Savings starts tomorrow night. (Turn those clocks forward!)

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Temperatures will plunge to the mid-teens tonight. It will be c-c-c-cold all weekend.

Snow arrives Monday night. It may snow all day Tuesday, and linger Wednesday. Winds will blow up to 40 miles and hour.

You know how happy we were with that mild winter?

Damn.

Friday Flashback #29

As Bedford Square nears completion, it’s shaping up as a handsome addition to downtown. David Waldman has taken the original lines of the Bedford Building — the Tudor YMCA, built in 1923 — and extended them along Church Lane, then up across Elm Street.

But Bedford Square has nothing on the grandeur of its namesake’s estate.

E.T. Bedford —  director of Standard Oil, and philanthropist of (among others) Bedford Junior High and Bedford Elementary School — lived on Beachside Avenue, next to Burying Hill Beach.

Here’s what his house looked like in 1920:

e-t-bedford-estate-beachside-avenue-1920

He wasn’t the only wealthy Beachside resident. This is a view of “Nirvana” — E.B. Sturges’ home (and personal dock) — in 1909:

nirvana-e-b-sturges-residence-beachside-avenue-1909

Yet the Bedford influence was hard to avoid. That’s his windmill in the distance, toward the right side of the photo.

(Hat tip: Ken Bernhard)

For Everyone Who Went To The Caribbean This Weekend, And Wonders What A 65-Degree February Sunday Looks Like In Westport…

 

compo-beach-playground-february-19-2017

Photo Challenge #111

It took Michael Calise just 1 minute to nail last week’s photo challenge. He knew that Lynn U. Miller’s image was part of the anchor that sits in a small grassy area a few yards from the Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach.

Of course, Michael is a Compo regular, in all kinds of weather. He should have known it!

Joining Michael in the winner’s circle are Kathie Bennewitz, Seth Schachter and Tom Wall.

NOTE: The base of the anchor contains a plaque: “In memory of John J. Benjamin, 1926-1958.” Does anyone know who he was, what he did (and why he died so young)?

This week’s photo was (duh) taken before Thursday’s snowfall. If you know where photographer Maria Vailakis-Wippick spotted this, click “Comments” below. And if you know what it is and why it’s there, add that info too.

photo-challenge-february-12-2017

Giving Thanks For What We’ve Got

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Irene Penny)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Irene Penny)

Friends Of Trees

There are 3 subjects I know will always generate huge “06880” reader reactions:

Parking. Dogs. And trees.

The first 2 are predictable parts of Westport life. The 3rd may be less intuitive.

But as regularly as power goes out when the wind blows, any time I post a tree story we get comments from readers who mourn the loss of every tree. And from others who say hey, easy come, easy go.

Yet — until the other day — I had no idea that both tree huggers and Paul Bunyans could find common purpose.

That’s when alert — and arboreal-minded — reader Johanna Rossi told me about the Friends of Parks & Recreation’s Arbor Program.

Full disclosure: I didn’t even know the Friends group existed, either. They’re a  public-private partnership that finances worthwhile projects and services, beyond those paid for by tax dollars.

The website of the Friends of Parks & Recreation website includes a photo of the Longshore entrance -- before the removal of several trees lining the entrance way. New trees have taken their place.

The website of the Friends of Parks & Recreation website includes a photo of the Longshore entrance — before the removal of several trees lining the entrance way. New trees have taken their place.

One of those programs can be found on the Friends’ website  under the heading “Trees, Trees, Trees.” Launched last year, it’s a way to honor “the lives and achievements of friends and families.”

Working with Parks and Rec, tree warden Bruce Lindsay identifies locations where he’d like to plant trees. He notes the specimens and species that thrive there.

Donors can choose their location and tree. The price is based on the cost of planting, as well as a fund to support maintenance — fertilizing, watering, pruning, etc. — for 5 years.

Planting takes place in the spring and fall. Photos and biographical info can be displayed alongside the tree.

It’s a “living legacy” for people to celebrate those who, most probably, are no longer living.

There’s even a GPS locator to help identify locations and tree types. Right now, there are 2 sites: Winslow Park and Compo Beach.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay has a plan to remove dead trees at Winslow Park -- and replace them.

Tree warden Bruce Lindsay has a plan to remove dead trees at Winslow Park — and replace them.

So the next time I post a story about tree removal, don’t click “Comments.”

Instead, donate a tree.