Tag Archives: Beachside Avenue

Gone: One 19-Foot, 10,000-Pound Typewriter Eraser

For years, one of the attractions of Beachside Avenue — besides the beautiful homes, enormous lawns and sweeping views of Long Island Sound — has been a quirky sculpture of a typewriter eraser.

The work — “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” by noted sculptors Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen — stands 19 feet, 3 inches tall, and weighs 10,300 pounds. Enormous blue bristles project from a tilting red wheel.

It was commissioned in the late 1990s by Westporters Sam and Ronnie Heyman. It’s a limited edition piece. Others are in Seattle, Las Vegas, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.

The Heymans went to California to see their artwork fabricated. It traveled cross-country in a flatbed truck, before being installed — very trickily, atop a subterranean 12-foot concrete base — on the couple’s front lawn.

“Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” — just the thing for your lawn.

For two decades “Typewriter Eraser, Scale X” amused, entertained and enthralled everyone who drove or jogged by.

Now it’s gone.

But it will be unveiled next month in a new location: the outdoor entrance plaza to the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida.

That’s fitting. The museum will feature an exhibition of Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s work. Much of it focuses on office equipment — including typewriters and erasers.

In fact, the Heymans’ sculpture proved an inspiration for the exhibit. Ronnie Heyman is a Norton trustee.

In 2012, Greens Farms resident Seth Schachter’s son stood in front of the Beachside Avenue fence — with the eraser sculpture in the background.

Plenty of people enjoyed the enormous eraser on Beachside Avenue.

But many, many more will see it in its next home, outside a museum in Florida.

The big question is: How many visitors actually know what a typewriter eraser was?

(Hat tip: Seth Schachter. He spotted an article about the sculpture in the Wall Street Journal. Click here to read the full story.)

Photo Challenge #207

Last week’s Photo Challenge was quite bucolic. Bob Weingarten’s image showed the remains of a high stone wall, now covered with vines and bushes. A quiet road ran behind it. (Click here to see.)

It could have been many places in Westport. Many readers thought it might be found in a cemetery. Assumption on Greens Farms, and Willowbrook on Main Street came to mind.

Nope. It’s on Beachside Avenue, opposite #76.

That’s all I had. But — of course — “06880” readers knew more.

Both Susan Lloyd and Morley Boyd identified it as “Bedford’s Folly.” Mary Ann Batsell got the location too, though not the name. Apparently it was once part of the ginormous E.T. Bedford estate in Greens Farms.

But why the “folly”?

Susan Lloyd offers these fascinating facts: “A garden folly is a useless structure in a garden.”

She adds, “Bedford Gardens was open for walking on Sunday afternoons. There was also a fake canal with a small bridge.”

Sounds like a great place to play mini-golf!

And Morley Boyd notes, “The folly, in this case, served as an important garden design element intended to lend a sense of mystery and romance by imitating an old ruined structure. Trickery is an age old tool in large scale landscape garden design.”

So it’s not really ruined — it just looks that way.

Mary Ann Batsell says the gardens were once open to the public. In the 1980s, her father helped uncover them. (So maybe they were “ruined,” after all.)

Speaking of Sunday afternoon strolls, here’s this week’s Photo Challenge. Click “Comments” if you know where it was taken:

(Photo/Judith Bacal)

HINT: Like last week’s Photo Challenge, this too was not taken in a cemetery.

Glamping: The Sequel

You know that big wedding last weekend on Beachside Avenue?

The one that featured white tents on Harvey Weinstein’s property, for glampers — “glamour campers” — to shelter on Friday and Saturday night, roughing it with only wooden floors and queen beds?

The one where fireworks lit up the sky after the ceremony, and a ton of security (uniformed cops, plainclothes and more) patrolled the area?

Turns out it was pretty, um, glamorous.

Zach Lasry — son of billionaire hedge fund owner/Milwaukee Bucks co-owner/Beachside Avenue resident Marc Lasry — married Arianna Lyons. They work together in film production.

Among the guests: former President Bill Clinton, and former Senator/Secretary of State/presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

President Bill Clinton at the Beachside Avenue wedding…

… and Hillary Clinton. (Photos courtesy of Instagram)

No word on whether they glamped, or decamped after the festivities to Chappaqua.

(Hat tip: WestportNow)

Pics Of The Day #338

Celebrating the first full day of spring!

Beachside Avenue (Photo/David Squires)

Grace Salmon Park (Photo/Doris Ghitelman)

Compo cannons (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

Longshore (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

Pic Of The Day #76

Beachside Avenue (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

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)

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #96

Not everyone gets out to Beachside Avenue much.

Everyone should.

It’s a special Westport neighborhood. In addition to the winding street lined with old, handsome estates — some of which you can actually see from the road — there are scenes like last week’s photo challenge. Fred Cantor’s image of an Adirondack chair sitting on a lawn overlooking a private beach is a classic.

Tom Ryan, Wendy Cusick, Joyce Barnhart, Jan Carpenter, Vanessa Bradford, Jeff Giannone and Billy Scalzi all placed it correctly. Several other readers thought it was just west, at Burying Hill Beach. Click here for the photo, and all guesses.

Seth Schachter provides this week’s challenge. If you know where this is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

E.T. Bedford’s Horse Track

The Bedfords — for a century one of Westport’s foremost families — have been in the news a lot this year.

Ruth Bedford — who died at 99 in June of 2014 — left $40 million to the Westport Family YMCA, Norwalk Hospital, and Foxcroft School in Virginia. That’s $40 million each.

And the Bedford estate — at 66 Beachside Avenue — is now slated for demolition. So is the family’s 2-story house at 225 Green’s Farms Road, opposite the Nyala Farms office complex.

Alert “06880” reader Neil Brickley has long been interested in the Bedfords. Growing up in Westport, he often heard of their wealth and generosity.

Neil is an engineer. He loves examining aerial photos of old Westport to figure out what went where — before, say, I-95 came through. Comments on “06880” about the Bedfords’ land-holdings piqued his interest.

He was particularly intrigued by this 1934 aerial shot, showing a horse track smack in the middle of Green’s Farms.

1934 aerial photo Wynfromere track

To get oriented: Green’s Farms Elementary School is in the upper right corner. At the upper left, Hillspoint Road runs into the Post Road (McDonald’s would be there today.) Center Street and Prospect Road meet Greens Farms Road at the bottom of the photo.

Neil found that the track encompasses over 10 acres.

However, he was thrown off by a photo in Woody Klein’s history of Westport. A caption of Edward T. Bedford — Ruth’s grandfather, and a director of Standard Oil, the founder of the Westport Y and namesake of Bedford Middle School — is shown riding his horse, Diplomat, over a track “on the spacious grounds of his home on Beachside Avenue.”

Edward T. Bedford

Edward T. Bedford

Neil saw no signs of the track on the aerial photos of Beachside. It’s hard to envision now — with I-95 in the way — but Bedford’s property extended northward, from Beachside Avenue to Nyala Farm and on into the West Parish area.

In fact, there’s a Bedford Drive off West Parish that could have been the south entrance to the track.

The track was called “Winfromere” — believed to be a reference to the term “win from here.” Today, Wynfromere Lane is just north of Bedford Drive.

Neil then found “taking maps” for the Sherwood Island Connector. To build it, they took the property that included the  Wynfromere horse track. The owner was indeed Frederick T. Bedford.

Neil was surprised to see enormous on/off cloverleaf entrances and exits proposed from Greens Farms Road — called “Shore Road” on the taking maps — to the connector. Bedford owned a large swath of land from the railroad tracks up to Hillandale Road. Neil surmises it went only that far because he had previously given the portion at the Post Road for the state police barracks (now Walgreens).

Neil noted the enormous amount of property owned by the Bedfords on Beachside Avenue too, as well as in the Morningside-Clapboard Hill area.

Now, about that story that E.T. Bedford also had a landing strip on his Beachside estate…

Saying Goodbye To The Bedford Estate

The Bedfords giveth.

And the Bedfords taketh away.

One of the town’s most philanthropic families — think the YMCA, schools, the Westport Woman’s Club and much, much more — has long owned property on Beachside Avenue.

But Ruth Bedford died last June, at 99. Now her estate, at 66 Beachside, is slated for demolition.

Bedford demo

The sign notes that 3 buildings are intended to be torn down. All are 114 years old.

The Bedford family also owns a 2-story house at 225 Green’s Farms Road, opposite the Nyala Farms office complex. It too was built in 1900.

And it too is slated for demolition.

A Moveable Feast

For decades, a concession stand sat at Southport Beach.

Hurricane Sandy uprooted it. Controversy — over insurance, permits and aesthetics — followed.

A day before it was — perhaps — to be demolished, it was moved. It ended up a few yards over the Westport line, on Beachside Avenue.

Now — as John Karrel’s photo shows — it’s landed in the Burying Hill Beach parking lot.

Southport beach shack

If you spot this peripatetic beach shack somewhere else, let us know. It’s sure tough to pin down.