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Tag Archives: Church Lane Westport
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
His name is David Waldman.
The Westport developer — whose downtown properties include the Patagonia building and the YMCA — also owns the Church Lane house sitting handsomely across from the Y’s Weeks Pavilion entrance.
Handsomely, but decrepitedly.
Waldman had planned to demolish the early 1800s Federal-style home, to put up (cue Joni Mitchell) a parking lot.
But he changed his mind.
His new plan is to preserve the facade, while renovating the interior for a restaurant. The building will be moved closer to the street; there’ll be outdoor seating, and a courtyard. Office space will be available on the 2nd floor.
There may also be a pedestrian walkway, and redevelopment of the office building behind it on the Post Road.
A new restaurant in an old home — and sprucing up that small but important street — will help downtown.
Meanwhile, maintaining — actually improving — the streetscape sends a crucial message that ripples far beyond Church Lane and the Post Road.
Old buildings count. They’re worth saving. If one of Westport’s biggest builders can find a way to save an old home downtown, some of our newest homeowners ought to be able to do the same everywhere else.
(The Historic District Commission and Architectural Review Board will review Waldman’s plan this Tuesday [Dec. 7], at 7 p.m. in Town Hall Room 201.)
WestportNow’s popular “Teardown of the Day” often features nondescript, “Mad Men”-era homes on private roads and cul-de-sacs. We’re sorry to see old homes torn down, but we don’t recognize many of them.
Monday’s teardown was different.
The 2-story Federal-style home and shed at 26-28 Church Lane — across the street from the YMCA — will be knocked down, following review by the Historic District Commission. Built around 1820, according to WestportNow.com, it was moved there from a previous Post Road location. That must have been a long time ago — it looks like it’s stood there forever, a proud reminder of when downtown Westport was both residential and handsome.
But over the years the building has deteriorated. It’s rotting and decrepit — perhaps an intentional move by the owners, WestportNow commenters have hinted, in order to be allowed to tear down a historic property.
Contrast 26-28 Church Lane with the building next door, #36. Also once sagging, after the Red Cross departed, it’s been lovingly restored by real estate attorney Roger Leifer.
Meanwhile, catty corner to #36, an addition to Christ & Holy Trinity Church will soon rise. Plans call for the new building to blend seamlessly with the 1863 stone structure. Church leaders and members understand the importance of maintaining the downtown streetscape.
There is no word on the fate of the Victorian office building adjacent to the Y — #35. It’s long provided dignity and balance to the Church Lane/Elm Street corner. But it too is old, and no doubt difficult to maintain. In Westport that can mean the kiss of death.
With the Y poised to move from downtown — the plan is to convert the property into retail, residential and restaurant complex — the little road that is Church Lane looks to be in for big changes in the months and years ahead.