Tag Archives: Baron Walter van Langendorff

Compo House: The Amazing Back Story

On Monday I posted an old broadside advertising Westport’s fireworks, 1860-style.

They took place at Compo House, which I’d never heard of. Alert “06880” reader Wendy Crowther quickly pointed out that it was also known as the Winslow Mansion. It stood where Winslow Park is today, on the corner of Post Road East and Compo Road North.

Between 1855 and 1860, Wendy added, “Henry Richard Winslow and his 2nd wife, Mary Fitch Winslow, invited everyone in town to their extensive and lavish property to enjoy July 4th fireworks. Henry died in February 1861, so the 1860 fireworks extravaganza advertised in the poster was his last.

How extensive and lavish was his house?

A lot more than you probably imagine.

Unbelievably alert “06880” reader Paul Greenberg found 2 prints at the George Glazer Gallery website. Here’s the back story to what they show.

Winslow — a state representative and senator — built Compo House in 1853. Six years later, former president Millard Fillmore was a guest. The property also included guest houses, servants’ and gardeners’ quarters, and gorgeous gardens.

The mansion no longer exists. It was torn down in the 1970s, after serving for many years as a sanitarium (and, in its final incarnation, a vacant party house for Westport teenagers). The outbuildings were demolished too.

The iron gate — alongside unpaved North Compo — still stands.

The Winslows also owned the land across Post Road East (then called State Street) from the park. Both properties were bought in the 1950s by Baron Walter von Langendorff, an Austrian-born chemist who founded Evyan Perfumes.

The town now owns the two parcels. We call the 2nd one “Baron’s South.”