Category Archives: Real estate

Pic Of The Day #2084

Compo Cove sunrise (Photo/Jimmy Izzo)

Marigny Painting: The Barn, And The Back Story

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.)

The home on Cross Highway. (Photo/Amy Dolego)

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.

interior of the barn, after renovation.

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.

Cross Highway barn. (Photo/Amy Dolego)

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.)

Donations for Ukraine outside Mark Yurkiw and Wendy Van Wie’s barn — with the country’s familiar blue and yellow symbol of resistance.

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.”

This Marigny scene by Roger Potier will soon hang in Wendy Van Wie’s Cross Highway 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).

Roundup: Ukraine Art Auction, Hamlet At Saugatuck, Fox News Lawsuit …

As donations for our new sister city in Lyman, Ukraine surge toward $120,000 — more than halfway to our goal of $250,000 to rebuild 150 homes, provide generators and a water filtration system — our partners in our other (and longtime) sister city of Marigny, France are pitching in.

In 1991, Roger Potier — a Marigny landscape artist — painted a scene of his Normandy town:

Our friends in Marigny have offered it as an auction item. The winning bidder will donate that price to the Lyman fund — and it will be shipped direct to you, from France. The dimensions are 16″ x 12″.

The bidding starts at $1,000, and runs until 11:59 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, December 24). Click “Comments” below to bid. You do not have to include your real name — but be sure to fill out the email address in the Comment box, so I’ll know who you are!

Meanwhile, to make a non-auction bid: 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). 

Meanwhile, we’ll add this thought from 2 noted Westporters.

David Pogue says:

When all a town wants for Christmas is plywood, generators, and drinking water, you know its citizens are in a dire situation.

Our sister city Lyman didn’t ask for this horrific invasion, attack, and devastation; this is a “there but for the grace of God go we” situation.

Let’s give them electricity, water, and tools to rebuild. Let’s show them kindness in a time of desperation. And in this Ukrainian season of devastation, destruction, and death, let’s send them a reminder that compassion and generosity are still alive.

David Pogue urges holiday donations for Lyman.

Ed Gerber adds:

I donated $500 to Ukraine Aid International, because my late father always told me that allowing Hitler to annex the Sudetenland was a horrible mistake that led to World War II.

If we do nothing against “Tsar” Vladimir’s aggression in Ukraine, where will he stop? Next it could be the Baltic States, Finland, Poland, Moldova to name a few undoubtedly on his list. If we do nothing and Putin invades “free” Ukraine, there will be a bloodbath of gargantuan proportions.

Knowing this, if I have an opportunity to help prevent it from happening, and do nothing, it will haunt me for the rest of my life. Please donate – it’s easy!

Ed Gerber

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A petition to review the Hamlet at Saugatuck text and map amendments has been filed with the town clerk.

The action — following the Planning & Zoning Commission’s recent approval of the hotel/retail/and more project on Riverside Avenue and Railroad Place — sends the decision to the Representative Town Meeting.

They have 30 calendar days from yesterday to complete a review. A supermajority of the RTM — 24 members — can vote to overturn the text amendments.

They cannot modify the decision; only vote to uphold or deny.

P&Z chair Danielle Dobin says, “This process is unique to Westport, thanks to our town charter. It is another way in which Westport is special. We are truly the most democratic of towns.

“The RTM review provides another opportunity to discuss the approved text amendment in a public forum, address questions, and tell the story of how the P&Z Commission shaped this proposal to work for Westport.”

Artist’s rendering of a Hamlet at Saugatuck courtyard.

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Sean Hannity was deposed in August, in Dominion Voting Systems’ $1.6 billion defamation suit against Fox News.

But several statements that emerged Wednesday are making news.

Hannity said he did “not believe … for one second” that Dominion was part of fraud in the 2020 election. Neither did Fox News’ executive vice president, and other high-profile executives at the network.

Those details emerged in Delaware Superior Court. With a high legal standard of proof in defamation cases, Dominion must show a jury “convincing evidence that speaks to the state of mind of those who were making the decisions” at Fox, says the New York Times. (Click here for more details, from NPR.)

The company was arguing this week that they had enough evidence to make that case. Co-lead counsel for Dominion’s legal team is Stephen Shackelford, Jr.

A partner and trial lawyer at Susman Godfrey, the Harvard University and Harvard Law School graduate (first in his class) and former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer is a Westport resident. He and his wife Stefanie are the parents of 4 school-age children. In his spare time, he serves on Westport’s Representative Town Meeting. (Hat tip: Tom Prince)

Stephen Shackelford, on CNN.

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On Monday, the Orphenians — Staples High School’s elite vocal ensemble — entertained a large Westport Library crowd.

They’ve been part of our music scene for nearly 70 years. This week’s show included holiday selections, and several from their highly regarded fall concert.

The event was sponsored by the Y’s Men of Westport and Weston. Click below to enjoy. (Hat tip: John Brandt)

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“Newsboy” — a 1954 photograph by Westport resident and Internationally known photographer Larry Silver — has been acquired by the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Silver took the now iconic photo as a scholarship student at The Art Center School in LA. Part of a photographic series of Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, it has been exhibited at the International Center of Photography, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Westport Art Center.

It’s the first work by Silver to enter the Getty, and complements the work of mid-20th century documentary photographers.

“Newsboy” (Larry Silver)

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The Joggers Club invites all members — and runners who might become members, and anyone else — to their holiday party.

It’s next Thursday (December 29, 7:30 p.m., Romanacci). Members get a free drink!

The Joggers Club welcomes all levels. The number one goal is to have fun.  Everything else is a distant second.

There are fun runs at Compo Beach every Saturday at 8 p.m.; track nights at Norwalk High School on Wednesdays (6:15 p.m.), and Joggers Club Jr. (kindergarten through high school) coming this spring.

Membership ($50 per year) includes a Brooks podium racing shirt for all new members.

For more information click here; check out The Joggers Club on Facebook or Strava, or follow on Instagram (@TheJoggersClub.ct).

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Alan Mande — a 1963 Staples High School graduate, and former Grateful Dead sound engineer — died suddenly at his Mount Shasta, California home last month. He was 77.

The Brooklyn native moved with his family to Westport at age 5. His mother Frances still lives here. Alan was active in Staples Players.

He majored in theater arts at Brandeis University, then spent 2 years at the Yale School of Drama.

Alan took his Players and Westport Country Playhouse stage skills to join Bill Graham’s Fillmore East sound crew as an engineer. He worked on shows like Jimi Hendrix Band of Gypsies’ New Year’s Eve show in 1970, and others by the Allman Brothers and Crosby Still Nash & Young.

In 1969 Alan’s life changed forever when, while working at the Fillmore East concert venue, he discovered the Grateful Dead. They inspired him to move to California in 1970, where he worked as a sound engineer and stage manager for the Firehouse Theater. In 1971 he met his future wife Nancy, in San Rafael.

Alan earned his master’s in marriage and family therapy from Lone Mountain College. He spent 31 years as a state-licensed MFT.

Alan was involved in many Mount Shasta activities. He assisted with numerous youth theater productions and coached Little League.

Alan’s passion for the Grateful Dead continued throughout his life. He was a prolific collector and archiver of tapes. He is cited in many articles, books and forums as one of the sound engineers who originated the tradition of “stealth taping” and distributing recordings to the larger community, assuring their posterity.

He loved music, theater, children, the Pacific Ocean, San Francisco sports teams, and chocolate

Alan is survived by his mother Frances, sister Susan, brother Jerry, and children Molly and Caton. Contributions in his name can be made to the Jerry Garcia Foundation.

Alan Mande. Yes, that is Jerry Garcia at the center of the steering wheel.

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Today’s spectacular “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Wendy Crowther.

She explains: “I was taking a photo of birds swarming my birdfeeders yesterday (perhaps sensing the big storm and deep freeze coming in). Suddenly, something big flashed by my lens causing the birds to scatter.

“I looked up to see this hawk sitting on a low branch 10 feet from the feeder. It waited, changing perches, in hopes an unsuspecting bird would return to the feeder. None did. The hawk eventually flew off.

“As best as I can tell, this is a juvenile sharp-shinned hawk, or a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. Both species prey on birds and other small animals. Like all juveniles, practice will make perfect. But hopefully not at my birdfeeder, and especially not while I’m watching.”

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … Wendy Crowther’s photo of the hawk (above) — and today’s wind — remind me of Lou Rawls’ “Dead End Street.”

Why? Well, it begins:

I was born in a city the called the “Windy City”
And they call it the “Windy City” because of the ‘Hawk.”
All mighty Hawk,
Talking about Mr. Wind — kind of mean around winter time

It’s a great song. Give it a listen — and stay warm and dry.

(Got nothing to do today, with the rain coming down, all the Christmas presents wrapped, the tree trimmed and everything else taken care of? Please consider an “06880” donation. Just click here — and thank you!)

 

Scenes From A Storm

The “bomb cyclone”/”once in a generation” pre-holiday storm delivered its first part as promised early this morning.

As of 8 a.m., 685 out of Eversource’s 12,678 customers were without power. That’s 5.4% of the town.

Weston reported 370 outages — 9.5% of 3,896 customers.

Statewide, Eversource reported 97,835 customers without power. That’s 7.55% of Connecticut.

Winds have momentarily died slightly. Rain has stopped. though it may start again around noon.

Next up: The temperature — about 53 now — will begin falling sharply in mid-afternoon. By 6 p.m. it will be 25; tomorrow at dawn, just 11 degrees.

Matt Murray has sent in two early scenes.

On Hillspoint Road, the eyesore that is the halted residential construction of the former Positano restaurant got even eyesore-ier, when the wind tore some of its blue siding.

Just a few yards away, 2 folks took advantage of the warm air for a dip at Old Mill Beach.

Let’s see if they’re there tomorrow.

(Photos/Matt Murray)

 

Sustaining 24 Owenoke Park

And the winner of the 2022 Westport Green Building Award for Achievement in Sustainable Design and Construction is …

… 24 Owenoke Park.

Owners Keith and Kate Melnick; architect Jack Franzen; builders John and Steve Segerson and Pam Brennan, and interior designer Chrystal Toth received the honor from Sustainable Westport, and the town of Westport. They called it “a stellar example of what is possible with sustainable design and construction in a residential project.”

24 Owenoke Park. (Photo courtesy of Google Earth)

Moving to Westport in 2016, the Melnicks’ goal was to incorporate sustainable building features they had discovered while living in Switzerland and Australia into their new home. Sustainable aspects of 24 Owenoke Park include an efficient building envelope, use of sustainable building materials, a solar photovoltaic system, and a geothermal heating and cooling system.

The building envelope includes double-pane insulated glass with low emittance coating, to reflect heat and keep it from penetrating the glass. This reduces heating and cooling demands on the home, along with the size of the heating and cooling equipment.

Exterior of 24 Owenoke Park …

 

The heating and cooling system is an all-electric geothermal heat pump, lessening the home’s reliance on fossil fuels. When heat is required, the heat pump draws heat from the ground; for cooling, the heat pump rejects heat back into wells drilled 535 feet into the ground. Because the ground temperature is nearly constant year-round, less energy is required to extract and reject heat to the ground than to the air.

A 7.8kW solar array installation of photovoltaic panels produces clean electricity, powering the home and allowing it to send electricity back to the electric grid instead of pulling from it. The solar PV panels also power an EV charger for their electric car.

Ultra-high efficiency tankless water heaters provide hot water only when there is a call from a sink or shower, eliminating the need to keep water heated 24/7.

The interior of the home includes natural finishes and furnishings, and paint that minimize Volatile Organic Compounds (chemicals often found in building materials and interior furnishings that can cause health problems). The paint also includes cradle-to-cradle certification that assures the health and safety of the end product, as well as sustainable manufacturing practices.

… and the interior.

All appliances are Energy Star-rated. They meet energy efficiency standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency or US Department of Energy.

To learn more about what you can do to make your home more sustainable, or the Green Building Awards Program, click here.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker (1st row, 2nd from left) presents the award to the Melnicks. The ceremony was also attended by town officials, and the home’s designers and builders. (Photo/Jenaé Weinbrenner)

Christmas Comes (Finally) To Washington Avenue

The anticipation is not quite like a little kid waiting for Santa.

But for 18 months, residents of Washington Avenue have looked ahead to the release of Netflix’s new Christmas movie “The Noel Diary.”

The film — starring Justin Hartley (“This is Us”) and Bonnie Bedelia (“Die Hard,” “Parenthood”) — is about a man who returns home on Christmas to settle his estranged mother’s estate, then discovers “a diary that may hold secrets to his own past and of a beautiful young woman on a mysterious journey of her own.”

Not exactly “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

But hey: It was filmed in Westport.

In the spring of 2021, a film company took over Washington Avenue — a tight-knit street connecting Main Street and Evergreen Avenue near downtown.

They’d negotiated deals with 6 homeowners. Their old New England-y, decidedly non-McMansion-type houses became a Hollywood set.

Screenshot from “The Noel Diary.”

It was “Christmas in June” — cinematically, and perhaps for the checks those families received too.

It was also at times a pain in the butt.

On June 28, 2021 I wrote about the Washington Avenue adventure. You can read that story below.

But before you do, click on the trailer:

Then click here to watch the entire film.

It’s the Westport way to “Netflix and chill.” Even if it was not exactly chilly way back in June 2021, on suddenly wintry Washington Avenue. (Hat tip: Carol Anne Ances)

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Here is the “06880” story from June 28, 2021: “Behind The Scenes Of ‘Noel Diary”:

The guys from the film company were up front.

“We’ll take over your house for a couple of weeks,” they told Brett Adams. “It will be crazy.”

They offered a contract. It specified exactly what they’d rent — the porch on his handsome Washington Avenue home, that sort of thing — and what they were responsible for. It spelled out the COVID restrictions, and other contingencies.

Brett signed. A couple of weeks later, the production crew arrived: all 50 to 75 of them.

“We probably didn’t fully understand that,” Brett says. “Or what it would mean for the entire street.”

Welcome to life, when your quiet Westport home becomes a bustling Hollywood movie set. Along with 5 others, next door and across the street.

A few of the many trucks, at the load-in on Washington Avenue.

The Adams’ house will be seen on screen a year and a half from now. December 2022 is the anticipated release of “The Noel Diary,” the Netflix film starring Justin Hartley (“This is Us”) and Bonnie Bedelia (“Die Hard,” “Parenthood”).

Yes, Christmastime. “The Noel Diary” is (duh) a holiday film.

And yes, it was filmed in Westport, on the hottest days in June. That’s the way the movie industry rolls.

Like anyone else in the business, Adams and his family learned to roll with the punches.

The saga began in March. Working at home, Adams saw people taking photos of his house.

Working with representatives from the state’s Office of Film, TV and Digital Media, they were scouting for 2 porches. They’d come to the right place: Adams’ — and the facades of other nearby houses, on the end of the usually quiet road just off Main Street — are historic and gorgeous. There’s not a McMansion in sight.

Filming began in other Fairfield County towns. The first sign of Westport’s star turn came when several enormous trucks massed in the Playhouse parking lot. That was the staging area.

Adams’ first sign that the crew was ready to take over — and do it their own, practiced way — was when they installed a massive generator on the side of the house. Then came tents in the back.

And huge cranes, for lighting. Plus cutting down a tree, for a better shot of another house across the way.

The Adams’ house. No, there is not usually a blue postal box in front.

The original contract included rental of the porch, a bit of the first floor interior, and basement (as a break room for the crew). Quickly, the producers asked to rent the driveway and garage too. Those riders were added.

Adams, his wife and son Will were both fascinated and blasé about the production. They watched in wonder as actors sweated through take after take in 90-degree heat (someone’s specific job was helping them take off their heavy coats).

Bedelia asked Brett if she could come inside between takes. Sure, he said. Will — a Staples High School junior — came downstairs during a study break, greeted the Emmy-nominated actress with a casual “hi!”, then went about his business.

Just like in the movies: The star gets her own chair.

The shaded porch became a favorite hangout for hair and makeup crews. Brett would take breaks from his own work, and ask them about their work. “I have my job, and they have theirs,” he says. “I learned a lot about what they do.”

One surprising lesson: how long it takes to shoot one scene. Each involves multiple angles, and many takes.

Once, a boy rode a bike up and down the street, over and over again. Another time, a dog chased a car — over and over and over again.

Brett was also astonished at the number of people involved, in every aspect, from the production manager to the guy watering the street.

The final night, the crew created a snowfall. Brett was impressed. “They really can create magic,” he says.

Winter in June. The snowman is a nice touch.

Nearly everyone who tromped onto Brett’s porch, and into his basement, had kind words for how nice and accommodating everyone in Westport had been. Apparently, that’s not always the case.

He returns the compliments. Negotiations were not stressful, he says. “They’re very practiced at this. They know antagonism will never get them anywhere.”

When a recycling bin went missing. someone hustled over to Westport Hardware and bought a new one.

The actors were great too, Brett says. Hartley took photos with everyone. Director Charles Shyer (“Father of the Bride,” “Private Benjamin,” “Alfie”) — “classic Hollywood, 79 years old in sneakers and a t-shirt” — was often available for interesting conversations.

“He never yelled ‘action,'” Brett observes. “There was someone else around to do that.”

“I don’t know where a Netflix film fits in with the whole art scene. But for a couple of weeks, even though it could be a nuisance, it was pretty cool.”

Besides, there was this: While work colleagues apologized for dog or toddler interruptions, Brett had another excuse.

“Sorry, guys,” he’d say. “They’re filming a movie at my house.”

Some scenes were filmed at night. These days, Washington Avenue is back to normal. (Photos/Brett Adams)

(Ho ho ho! Please consider a holiday gift to support “06880.” Click here — and thank you!)

Lighting Up The Holidays

Andrew Colabella is a busy man.

He works. He’s an RTM member. He moonlights as Santa Claus.

But he had time last week to cruise around Westport. He spotted plenty of homes with holiday lights. He stopped at each, and snapped photos.

Here is Andrew’s tour of our town. Now all we need is snow…

(All photos/Andrew Colabella)

Apologies to any we missed. If you’ve got a favorite holiday lights photo, please email 06880blog@gmail.com. If we get enough, we’ll run Round 2.)

(“06880” is your hyper-local blog — and holiday headquarters. Please click here to support us with a gift. Thank you!)

Roundup: Car Crashes, Cannabis, Cuseos …

Just before 1 a.m. today, a car went off the road, into the Saugatuck River.

The Westport Fire Department responded with 3 engines and a rescue truck. Firefighters wearing cold water rescue suits removed the lone occupant, who was trapped in the vehicle.

Westport EMS transported the patient to the hospital, with unknown injuries.

Westport firefighters in action early this morning. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

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Speaking of accidents: Another of those baffling midday, clear weather crashes  took place yesterday, at the Hillandale Road/Morningside Drive South intersection.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

With the way people drive these days, though — and the so-much-to-do pressure of the holidays — perhaps it’s not that surprising.

Just keep this image in mind the next time you want to gain 2 seconds at a stop sign.

Or think that your errand is more important than everyone else’s.

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A recent “06880” story on what’s for sale — illegally — in Westport smoke shops and convenience stores noted that recreational marijuana sales have not yet begun in Connecticut.

Yesterday, state officials announced that adult-use marijuana sales will begin January 10.

Nine existing medical marijuana dispensaries have received approval for sales. The closest stores are Stamford and New Haven.

More sites will be approved in coming months. None are in Westport. The Planning & Zoning Commission has — at least for now — banned non-medical marijuana sales here.

Click here for a full report on recreational cannabis stores statewide.

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A Teen Business Holiday Shop fills the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum today (Saturday, December 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

An array of creative, high-quality products — jewelry, services and more — are on sale. All were created by local teenage entrepreneurs.

The event is sponsored by Up | Next Teens. The student-founded and run organization teaches teens the principles of entrepreneurism, with a commitment to social activism.

A portion of the proceeds will help fun the group’s efforts to help alleviate food insecurity.

PS: There’s live music, baked goods — and gift wrapping too!

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Registration is open for several Earthplace kids’ programs. They include:

  • Junior Naturalists (Grades 6-12)
  • Teen Volunteer Club (Grades 6-12)
  • Vacation Day Camp (Ages 3-12, January 16)
  • Holiday Break Camp (Ages 3-12. February 20-24, 27; April 7, 10-14)
  • Summer Camp.

Click here for details — and other programs too.

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Staples High School Class of 2010 graduate Luke Hammerman is the digital audience manager for the National Military Family Organization. The non-profit supports and enhances military families through advocacy and programming.

Luke wants Westporters to know about the group’s holiday drive — and remind them that Tuesday is the anniversary of the National Guard’s founding (in 1636!).

He also found this link to an inspirational “06880” story about some Westport military families in years past.

During World War II, 8 of the 12 Cuseo brothers enlisted in the military. Bottom row (from left): Charles, Robert, James, George. Middle: Angelo, father James, mother Lucia, Albert. Top : Nicholas, Frank, Anthony, William, Joseph, Michael. Not pictured: Mildred.

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Westport will be well represented at “Layers Revealed” — the new exhibit at Norwalk Art Space.

Photographer Jerri Graham and artist Melissa Newman are in the show, which explores “all of life’s intricacies and complexities.”

“Slowly, the layers of our lives are revealed and once they are, we fully come through,” Graham says. Through “each frame of the camera,” she aims to highlight “a fraction of a second of a life that will be lived for a time unknown. Within these fractionated layers, we find our lives and ourselves.”

“Layers Revealed” encourages viewers to explore the many cycles and layers of humanity, nature, beauty, creation and decay.

At the opening reception Thursday (December 15,, 6 to 8 p.m., 455 West Avenue, Norwalk), Graham will take portrait photos at a pop-up space.

She’ll also host 3 portrait photo sessions (December 18, 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m.; January 8 (10 a.m. to noon) and January 15 (noon to 2:30 p.m.). Book sessions at 203-252-2840; donations are accepted. Students ages 13 to 18 who are interested in helping Graham (and learning about lighting, composition and more) can apply here.

On January 15 (3 p.m.), Graham will give a talk. On January 28 (11 a.m.), Newman — who is also a vocalist — will join guitarist Tony
Lombardozzi for a jazz brunch performance at The Norwalk Art Space.

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In With the Old” — a Discovery+ series — features old-home enthusiasts transforming abandoned structures.

In the current season 3, Staples graduates Brian and Megan Austin Philpott work their magic on a “little Weston cabin.”

Also shown: former Westport Planning & Zoning Commission member Al Gratrix. Spoiler alert: It’s his grandchildren’s log cabin. (Hat tip: Chip Stephens)

Brian and Megan Austin Philpott, at work.

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The Dartmouth College Brovertones serenaded Staples High’s  Choralaires yesterday, with tunes ranging from Hozier to The Beach Boys.

Luke Rosenberg’s singers were especially excited to hear SHS 2020 graduate Sam Laskin. They asked plenty of questions too, about college and a cappella life.

Sam Laskin (front row, 3rd from left), the Brovertones, and the Staples Choralaires.

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There’s a new event on the Westport benefit calendar.

On March 19, Sunset Wine Party hosts a wine tasting at the Inn at Longshore. All net proceeds go to Berni & Murcer, a non-profit supporting area children with cancer.

The event includes grazing tables, music, and private VIP rooms

Discount tickets are available December 15 through January 1. Click here for more information.

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Last night’s full moon was spectacular. Thanks to all who sent photos.

Two of the best were these:

Moon over Compo Beach … (Photo/Jim Hood)

… and Sherwood Island State Park. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Just before the moon rose, Tessie and Stinky Pete posed for this “Westport … Naturally” photo at Compo:

(Photo/Richard Abramowitz)

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And finally … another little known — but hugely important — music pioneer has died.

Jim Stewart, a white man who who with his sister founded Stax Records — the hugely successful R&B/soul label — died Monday in Memphis. He was 92.

A country and rockabilly fan who “had scarcely seen a Black person till I was grown,” his work with artists like Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett and Carla Thomas helped create the soundtrack of the ’60s and early ’70s.

His house band — Booker T. & the M.G.s — included Black and white musicians, an enormous step for the very segregated city of Memphis.

Click here for a full obituary.

(Cars in the river, marijuana sales, military families … “06880” covers it all. Please click here to support our work. Thank you!)

 

 

Roundup: Hamlet At Saugatuck, World Karting Champ, Italian Culinary Tour …

The Planning & Zoning Commission continued its discussion of the Hamlet at Saugatuck proposal last night.

P&Z members and proponents of the plan — which includes hotel, retail, residential and waterfront space near the train station — spoke about height, floor area ratios and requirements for public open space.

Votes on text and map amendments — necessary for the project to move forward — may be taken at the next P&Z meeting (Monday, December 12).

Part of the proposed Hamlet at Saugatuck marina.

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Speaking of real estate: November’s numbers are in.

Here are the figures for single-family homes, with comparisons in parentheses to November 2021:

  • Total sales: 23 (down 30.3%)
  • Median sales price: $1.595 million (up 1.6%)
  • Inventory: 118 (down 7.8%)
  • Days on the market: 57 (down 9.5%).

83% of homes sold within 90 days of listing.

Only 1 condo sold in Westport last month. The price was $495,000. However, the inventory of condos is 37. (Hat tip: Meredith Cohen at William Raveis)

The most expensive home on the market in Westport right now is on Charcoal Hill Road. The 6-bedroom, 8 1/2-bath house can be yours for $12.5 million.

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The last time we checked in with Vivek Kanthan, he had qualified to represent the US in the 2022 ROK Superfinal World Karting Championship in Italy.

He did win. But now the 13-year-old Westporter is a world champion.

Vivek Kanthan: world karting champion.

The venue was South Garda Karting Track in Lonato, Italy. Ninety racers from 25 countries qualified through their own national competitions.

The event is raced over 4 days. Competitors are eliminated, until only 36 drivers remain for the Superfinal world title.

Vivek won all 4 elimination heats, with a perfect score. He was the first American ever to do so.

In a very tactical, skillful and tense Superfinal, he executed a switchback passing maneuver on the last lap, to win by 0.077 seconds. Racers from Australia and Romania were 2nd and 34d, respectively.

Next year, Vivek moves up a race category. He will continue to compete in Europe against the world’s best kart racers. To follow his Instagram, click here.

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The sun was out yesterday. The high was almost 50.

So these 5 guys headed to Old Mill for a swim.

(Photo/Denise Pearl)

And why not? It’s the off-season. No beach stickers required.

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Westport Book Shop’s December artist exhibitor is Westporter Jarvis Wilcox. Seven oil paintings featuring nature, landscapes and still life are on display in the Jesup Green used book store. A reception is set for December 10 (5 to 7 p.m.).

Wilcox painted in upstate New York for a decade, then in the Hamptons for 25 years. He now lives here, and is a member of the Artists Collective of Westport, and Silvermine Guild.

All artwork on display is available for purchase. To see more of his work, click here.

Jarvis Wilcox

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Steve Davis returns to VFW Joseph J. Clinton Post 399 on Thursday (December 8), for Jazz at the Post. He brings some great collaborators too.

Davis — one of the most widely recorded trombonists today — will feature selections from his latest CD, “Correlations,” and his Grammy Award-winning original compositions.

He’ll be joined by saxophonist/”Jazz Rabbi” Greg Wall, pianist Rick Germanson, bassist Jason Clotter and drummer Jason Tiemann.

Shows are 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. There is a $15 cover. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Steve Davis

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Take a culinary tour of Italy — without leaving Westport.

Chef Robert L. Gorman leads the first in a series of Wakeman Town Farm dinners on January 6 (6:30 to 9:30 p.m.).

In Tim’s Kitchen, guests will experience many flavors of Italy. Chef Robert starts with imported salami and cheeses; moves on to tagliatelle Bolognese and a variation on bistecca Fiorentina with gremolata and harvest-roasted vegetables, ending with classic tiramisu. He’ll discuss the background of each course, too.

Click here for tickets ($150 each) and more information.

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Humans are not the only ones who can enjoy a “Westport … Naturally” sunset!

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)

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And finally … today is the 53rd anniversary of Altamont.

On this day in 1969, a free Rolling Stones concert turned violent. 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hells Angels security guards. There were 3 other deaths; scores of injuries; many stolen vehicles, and lots of property damage.

Less than 4 months after Woodstock, Rolling Stone magazine called it “rock and roll’s all-time worst day.”

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Roundup: Positano, Crossword Contest, Hidden Gem …

A reader writes:

The recent “06880” story about 233 Hillspoint Road [the former Positano restaurant, now being rebuilt as a private home] led me down the Google rabbit hole, to a wonderful surprise.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, my family and I had a Positano reunion at the former Chef Joseph’s son and daughter’s recently opened West Village restaurant, Ferdi.

The hospitality and food is instantly, wonderfully, familiar, while also sparkling with the imprint of the next generation of Chef Fernando and Manager Aida.

My sister and her husband were with us, visiting from Ohio. They married on the beach outside Positano 21 years ago, and had their wedding party at the restaurant. (Its first, I think.)

My adult children, who also were at this dinner with my husband and me, grew up talking to young Fernando and Aida during our countless meals at Positano.

The evening was meaningful for all of us — and we have “06880” to thank for getting the ball rolling.

Positano lives on — as Ferdi, in New York.

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What are you doing at 9 a.m. this Thursday (December 1)?

If you’re a fan of both Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert and the Westport Library’s Crossword Puzzle Contest, you’ll have to prioritize.

Tickets for both popular events go on sale — at the exact same moment. And they go quickly for both.

Click here for the December 16-17 holiday production.

Click here for the February 4 word games event.

And good luck to all!

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Aaron and Brett Fortunoff are Bedford Middle School students, with big hearts and great goals. They write:

“In the spirit of giving and being thankful, we can’t forget about those who are less fortunate and fail to receive a proper daily breakfast — the most important meal of the day.

“So we teamed up with a non-profit called Cereal4All that helps provide cereals to local food pantries. We hope ‘06880’ readers can help us with this important cause.

“For local readers, we will be by both entrances of Stop & Shop this weekend (December 3 and 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). We will then deliver the collected cereal to food pantries in Fairfield County.

“There will also be a collection box at Temple Israel in Westport, from December 2 to 16.

“For readers are not local, we created an Amazon wish list you can donate to.  Also, you can Venmo our mother, Laurie. She will buy cereal with the money raised: @lauriefortunoff. You can also click here and donate directly to the charity. The donation is tax deductible.

Aaron and Brett Fortunoff

 

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The Hidden Gem — the combination hair salon/crystal shop on Maple Avenue South, just south of the Exxon station — has closed.

A “for sale” sign sits on the property, the former site of Juljen, Bill’s and Mario & Mike’s.

The asking price is $2 million. Click here for details. (Hat tip: Chris Grimm)

6 Maple Avenue South, with a previous tenant.

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The stars are aligned. This is your chance to order a 2023 Westport Astronomical Society calendar.

It’s filled with daily astronomical data from Phil Harrington, and illustrated with astro-photography from talented WAS members.

The calendar is $15 for members, $20 for non-members ($5 shipping for 1-2; $10 for 3-5). It’s available at any upcoming event (click here for the calendar), or by email (alex@was-ct.org; include quantity and shipping address; you’ll be invoiced via PayPal).

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No matter what the season, there’s beauty at Compo Beach.

Today’s timeless “Westport … Naturally” photo comes from Lauri Weiser.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Keith Levene — a founding member of both the Clash and Public Image Ltd. — died earlier this month in England. He was 65, and suffered from liver cancer. Click here for a full obituary.

(Don’t be a punk. Please support “06880.” Click here to help. Thank you!)