Category Archives: Places

Unsung Heroes #205

A group of “06880” readers who ask for anonymity write:

We would like to nominate the founding members of the Westport Preservation Alliance as the Unsung Heroes of the Week, for their valiant efforts to preserve both the history and the open spaces of our beloved town.

We were ecstatic to see their activism recently in relation to Baron’s South. We are grateful for their tireless efforts. We watch, with great pride, the activism that they galvanize in our community.

Newcomers to Westport should know that it is thanks to the tireless efforts of  WPA members Morley Boyd, Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John Suggs that much of Westport’s natural beauty, as well as some of its historic treasures, remain protected.

The preservation of our Cribari Bridge and the prevention of its expansion and/or destruction, for example, is due in large part, to the WPA’s inexhaustible efforts. Without it, 18-wheelers might now be causing even worse traffic, cacophony, and air pollution in our otherwise idyllic town.

William F. Cribari Bridge. (Photo/Sam Levenson)

It is with great relief too that we watch the WPA step up to protect such sites as the Golden Shadows mansion and surrounding property (between South Compo and Imperial Ave.)

As we keep our eyes on the new Amazon development in the former Barnes & Noble plaza, we hope that the WPA will monitor potential subsidiary developments, and keep the area surrounding Greens Farms Elementary School safe for our children.

It is a tremendous honor for us to nominate Boyd, Crowther, Garten and Suggs for their tenacity and strength as they stand up in order to do right by our charming, beautiful, and relatively peaceful town.

Each of the founding members has an impressive resumé in his or her own right; the fact that these Westporters devote so much time and effort to keep our town unspoiled makes the WPA more than worthy of the Unsung Hero of the Week nomination. Thank you, Westport Preservation Alliance, for fighting the good fight for us all.

{PS. For those who don’t know the history of the WPA’s efforts in preserving the iconic Cribari Bridge, we encourage you to click here to read the detailed history of the WPA’s efforts.)

(Do you know an Unsung Hero? Email dwoog@optonline.net)

Baron’s South: Revisiting A Plan

As the Planning & Zoning Commission discusses possible rezoning of portions of Baron’s South, from passive open space to more organized recreational purposes, some Westporters remember previous discussions.

A few years ago, town officials commissioned a landscape plan to restore and revitalize the park, following a tree removal project.

The September 2017 draft plan, prepared by Aris Land Studio, included:

  • An improved entryway/driveway from Compo Road South, replacing 2 narrow, poorly marked entryways.
  • New ADA-accessible parking areas in that same area.
  • A restored footpath system linking the Senior Center to other park sites.
  • Habitat restoration areas, meadows, new gardens, and an area for contemplation.

The draft plan

Like many plans, this one seems to be sitting somewhere, unimplemented.

Is it a good idea? Has its time come and gone? What exactly should we do with Baron’s South — if anything?

Click “Comments” below, to add to this long-running, recently revived discussion.

Baron’s South Meeting Changed To Wednesday

The lead “06880” story this morning — about the future of the Baron’s South property — noted a public meeting set for tomorrow. The purpose of the session is to discuss a potential rezoning of a portion of the land.

The meeting — called by the Planning & Zoning Commission’s Zoning Regulation Revision Subcommittee — has been changed to Wednesday (July 28, 12 noon).

Members of the public can attend the virtual session via Zoom. Click here for the link.

Public comments can be made during the meeting. Comments can also be sent prior to the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov.

Vegetation surrounds a Baron’s South pathway. (Photo/Wendy Crowther)

And The Holiday House Decorating Contest Winner Is …

The lights are all strung. The decorations are all hung.

And the votes are all in. The little drummer boy gives us a drum roll for the winners of Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department Holiday Home Decorating Contest. They are …

1st Place: 1 Quintard Place – The Mirabelli Family

2nd Place: 25 Hillandale Road – The Lozyniak Family

3rd Place: 4 Fairport Road – The Carusone Family

1 Quintard Place — the winner!

Here are other entrants. Stop by and visit (though tonight might not be the best night, weather-wise!).

  • 2 Wilcox Lane
  • 8 Evergreen Parkway
  • 14 Brooklawn Drive
  • 1 Lyndale Park
  • 359 Wilton Road
  • 11 Sachem Trail
  • 57 Bermuda Road
  • 20 Bridge Street
  • 6 Vani Court
  • 1 Yankee Hill Road
  • 2 Hidden Hill Road
  • 17 Buena Vista Drive
  • 61 Bulkley Avenue North

Finding New Life In An Old Cemetery

As COVID cases soar, Westporters search for safe activities.

Among the best places to explore on your own: cemeteries. Odds are you won’t find anyone infected there (or anyone else alive, for that matter).

Our town is filled with fascinating graveyards. Willowbrook, off Main Street near Cross Highway, is the biggest. Greens Farms Church — Westport’s first meetinghouse — has 2 (“upper” and “lower”) on Hillandale and Greens Farms Roads, near the Sherwood Island Connector.

Saugatuck Church’s Evergreen Avenue cemetery and the one shared by Assumption and Christ & Holy Trinity Churches on Kings Highway North near Old Hill are also filled with Westport names, both famous and obscure.

Smaller cemeteries include Compo Beach Road, Longshore Club Park, Post Road West near the Norwalk town line, and Wilton Road near the Merritt Parkway.

Gray’s Creek cemetery on Compo Beach Road. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

All are easily accessible. But the Kings Highway Colonial Cemetery is not.

It’s a small graveyard at the corner of Kings Highway North and Wilton Road. Unless you walk or bike there, the only access is by parking at the medical office across the street, then taking your life in your hands (bad analogy) as you cross Route 33.

The other day, David Wilson did just that. He grew up in Westport (Staples High School Class of 1975), and still spends plenty of time in the area.

Yet in all those years, he had never explored that cemetery.

He was dismayed to find parts in disrepair. Headstones were knocked over. Brush littered the grounds. Broken trees were everywhere.

(Photo/David Wilson)

Intrigued, David found 2 archived Facebook Live tours of the cemeetery. They were led by Nicole Carpenter, director of programs and education at the Westport Museum for History & Culture.

Once in a driving rain, and once on a beautiful spring day, Nicole gave viewers a look at the gravestones. She explained back stories too, including the changing styles and meanings of the stones’ shapes and colors.

The Taylor family — who gave their name to the neighborhood then called Taylortown (the nearby marsh is still called that) — share a large section with the Marvins (of tavern fame).

Abigail Taylor’s grave.

A non-family member is also interred there: Dinah, a “colored” servant and cook. That’s highly unusual, Nicole explained.

There’s the Judah family too, among the first Jewish residents of Westport (then part of Norwalk). Michael moved from New York City because of anti-Semitism. His son Henry became an Episcopal minister; Henry’s son, Henry Moses Judah, was a brigadier general in the Mexican-American and Civil Wars.

The Judas family owned an estate in Saugatuck, which was named for them. Over the years, Judas Point morphed into Judy’s Point.

The 2 tours are fascinating. If COVID keeps you indoors, click here and here to watch.

Kings Highway Colonial Cemetery.

But Nicole missed one of the most fascinating parts of the cemetery. At a mound not far from the road — perhaps the spot where Benedict Arnold (not yet a traitor) set up a cannon to thwart the British as they returned from their 1777 raid on Danbury (they thwarted him, by taking a different route back to Compo Beach) — there was a secret, spooky spot long known to kids like me, growing up in Westport.

If you lay flat on your stomach, and peered into the area where the ground had shifted, you could see all the way down to the bottom. There — arrayed like a horror film — sat a set of bones.

I’ve forgotten many things about being a kid here.

But as long as I live, I’ll always remember that skeleton.

A section of the burial mound, near where the earth has moved.

[OPINION] A Trip Through The Westport Heartland

Alert “06880” reader/curious explorer/noted journalist Scott Smith writes:

Westport 06880 has many blessings. But we don’t have a charming, white-washed covered bridge built in 1880. We also lack a soaring water tower with our name splashed across the top. And a Dollar General store.

These are the chief landmarks of Westport 47283, a small farming community surrounded by miles of corn and soybean fields in south-central Indiana.

The Westport, Indiana covered bridge.

I passed through that Westport recently on my way back from a road trip out West. Eager to leave behind endless Zoom meetings, I settled on a route that would take me to the most COVID-free part of the country – chiefly, Badlands National Park and the Black Hills of South Dakota.

A close encounter with Devil’s Tower across the border in Wyoming and a sublime drive back through the Sand Hills of my native Nebraska were among many other roadside attractions along the way.

Welcome to Westport, Indiana.

I did not spot another Connecticut license plate the whole 10 days. So here are 3 observations for state residents from what’s known as flyover country to some, and the heartland to others.

First, this large part of America truly is a landscape of vast scale and industrial agricultural enterprise. I passed a thousand miles of cropland — mostly corn and soybeans — planted in tight rows extending  as far as the eye could see (or pivot irrigation could reach).

Lush green pastures were dotted with countless supersized rolls of hay destined to fatten up cows for beef. This is the breadbasket of the world, and we should all be proud of that. I know our farmers are.

Yet though the fruits of their labors are so evident, I saw hardly any people working the fields. One 30-foot-wide, GPS-guided combine can cover a lot of ground.

Town Hall in Westport, Indiana.

Using interstates to connect with state roads and scenic byways, I was struck by the vast, beige buildings of corrugated steel roofs and aluminum siding, as large in scope as the mega farming and just as strangely absent of people.

Often they’re depots for Walmart or other distribution conglomerates, with scores of truck bays. The manufacturing facilities stand out with their networks of pipes and conveyors taking in resources and exhaust vents belching things out. Who knows what goes on inside these gargantuan structures, save for a small sign out front that typically sports an acronym followed by “Industries.”

It’s big business to be sure, but not a lot of local jobs, at least of the kinds that kept this swath of America thriving for generations. I passed dozens of small towns with Dollar General at one end of town, and a convenience store (usually with a name like Whoa ‘n’ Go or Pause ‘n’ Pump) selling gas, beer and junk food at the other.

In between, invariably, was a Main Street or “Historic Downtown District” composed of brick buildings boarded up long ago, or given over to a social agency or someone trying to make a go of a curio shop.

A boarded up building in Westport, Indiana.

With ornate facades, and scrolled dates and names of their founders across the sturdy lintels, these landmarks are ghostly echoes of the tin sheds and warehouses on the outskirts of town that long ago replaced them.

Westport 47283 (population 1,379) seems to be doing better than many small Midwestern towns. Though many of the big old buildings are shuttered, they’ve still got a Dairy Queen.

The Dollar General — and Dairy Queen.

The next “woe is Westport” lament I hear about our own town’s retail fortunes, I’ll be thinking of the identical rack of brightly hued ladies and children’s summer fashions I kept noticing stationed outside the front door of the dozens of Dollar General stores I passed driving through these hamlets. If cheap had a smell, I would’ve had to roll the windows up.

This is MAGA Country, to be sure. I drove by Trump stores in four states, including a large, Trump-bespoked RV set up in the parking lot of the Wounded Knee Museum (commemorating a massacre of Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry; think about that). I don’t recall seeing one Biden lawn sign in 4,700 miles, though I was pleased to see a plurality of Black Lives Matters signs on the tidy block in Omaha where my grandparents lived from the 1920s to 1970.

A Trump banner, near the Westport, Indiana water tower. (Photos/Scott Smith)

Point is, the voters in Westport, Indiana, and in all the rural towns beyond, while not large in number anymore, hold more electoral sway than us here in 06880 or in blue states. While I can’t fathom why they’ve put their faith in the poseur populist that is our current President, seeing what they’ve lost and what remains, I can imagine why the fellow in Westport 47283 with the big Trump flag on his front porch would take a flyer on the promise to make his America great again.

Roundup: The Graduate; Street Spotlight; Traffic Islands; More


Last night’s Remarkable Theater drive-in movie was another smash.

As you can tell from Katie Augustyn’s photo, it was “The Graduate.”

Next up: “Life Animated” (Wednesday, July 15) and “Do the Right Thing” (Thursday, July 16). Click here for tickets.


Last year, “06880” introduced a “Street Spotlight” series. The goal is to shine a light on a Westport road, from a resident’s point of view.

What makes your street special? Do you have unique traditions? Does one particular person, family or physical feature bring people together? Has everyone gone through an experience that bonded residents tightly?

“Street Spotlight” runs irregularly — whenever we get an interesting submission. Here’s your chance to show off your road, lane, drive, circle or court to the entire “06880” community. Send info and photos to dwoog@optonline.net. Happy trails!

Happy, friendly High Point Road residents.


A timely reminder: If you’re going to say you maintain a traffic island, you should maintain it!

(Photo/Peter Swift)


And finally … a wish from Tom Chapin:

Photo Challenge #289

Last week’s Photo Challenge was out of this world.

Well, out of Westport, anyway.

Trace Burroughs’ shot of a “Westpoort” sign was taken in Amsterdam. (Click here to see.)

Dan Vener, Peggy O’Halloran, Arthur Hayes, Jack Marshall, Andrew Colabella, Doug Fierro, Robert Fox, Barry Cass, Lawrence Joel Zlatkin, Amelie Babkie and Tracy MacMath all knew the Dutch connection.

Peggy added this helpful link, from Wikipedia:

Westpoort (Western Gateway or Western Port) is a borough (stadsdeel) of Amsterdam, Netherlands. The borough covers the Port of Amsterdam, the main harbour and industrial area of the city, and is located in the north-western part of Amsterdam. It is divided in the industrial areas of TeleportSloterdijk areas I, II and II, De Heining and the harbour area (Havengebied).

While the borough has very few permanent residents, it serves as corporate headquarters of over 1,500 Dutch and foreign companies that operate in the Netherlands. Therefore, approximately 45,000 people commute to the area for work on workdays, making it the largest commuter destination within city limits.[1]

As a primarily business district, Westpoort does not have its own district committee like the other boroughs do. Instead, it is governed directly by the central municipal council, as a port and industrial park rather than a neighborhood.

The northern border of the area is formed by the North Sea Canal. The district borders the boroughs of West and Nieuw-West and the municipality of Haarlemmerliede en Spaarnwoude (including the town of Halfweg).

As for the spelling: the double “o” in Dutch is pronounced “oh,” not “ooh.” So my last name — which is Dutch — rhymes with “vogue,” rather than “voooog.” Think “Roosevelt” or “Moog” (the synthesizer guy).

Don’t worry, though. I’m used to people mispronouncing my name. I even do it myself!

Today’s Photo Challenge is both interesting and artistic. If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/David Squires)

These Questions Have Absolutely Nothing To Do With The Coronavirus …

… nor are they particularly important.

But — with time on our hands during the pandemic — why not ponder them?

Alert “06880” reader/longtime Westporter/concerned citizen Arlene Yolles took these 2 photos the other day:

So, she wonders: Which is it? South Compo Road, or Compo Road South?

To which I add, what about Morningside Drive (North and South), (North and South) Turkey Hill Road, Maple Avenue (North and South), and probably others as well?

Damned if I know.

But that brings up a related question: Why is one of these streets a “drive,” another a “road,” and a third an “avenue”?

What’s the difference? They all look alike to me.

And don’t get me started on the proper use of Greens Farms and/or Green’s Farms. Even the post office can’t decide:

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

What I do know for sure is, this is definitely wrong:

Feel free to weigh in below. If you’re on one of the drives, roads or avenues mentioned, we’re especially interested in where you think you live.

And why.

Color Us Westport: Your “06880” Coloring Book

A couple of weeks ago, “06880” put out a call. Readers could help design a fun, creative local coloring book.

The idea came from Mark Potts. The 1974 Staples High School graduate lives in Lawrence, Kansas now, and sent his mother — renowned Westport historian Eve Potts — an article about a coloring book created there.

Eve thought it was a wonderful, creative way to bring our community — of all ages — together during this crisis.

Artists of all types — professionals, doodlers, everyone in between — were invited to submit a page of their favorite Westport scene. They’d all be turned into a PDF, for anyone to print out and color.

Now — with the help (of course!) of Miggs Burroughs — we present “Color Us Westport.” The 24 page book of historic, iconic and fun spots around town includes contributions from Miggs, Eve, Mark, Kathie Motes Bennewitz, Claire England, Kris Jandora, Penny Pearlman and Melanie Yates.

Click here to download your (free!) copy now.

Claire England, director of operations for Green’s Farms Church, contributed several pages to the coloring book.