For decades since its construction more than 70 years ago, Sconset Square was — well, undefined.
Originally called Sherwood Square, the small plaza off Myrtle Avenue housed a random group of stores. The original Sport Mart, Carousel Toy Store, The Paint Bucket, a camera shop — all were there.
So was a tailor, travel agency and offices (including the Westport News).
A succession of restaurants succeeded the Pickle Barrel, which featured — yes — an actual pickle barrel.
That was then. Sconset Square, now, is very now.
Over the past few years, co-owners David Waldman and Roger Leifer transformed a gaggle of storefronts into a cohesive set of like-minded businesses. All share a common theme: high-end design, aimed at creative-type folks.
Waldman’s vision was for an artistic-type hub, drawing people together. The new mix of stores includes interior design, an art gallery, artisanal florist, jewelry and gifts. The new café/restaurant/bar, Casa Me, opens soon.
Renovations updated Sconset’s look, and unified the exteriors. The esthetic was light, yet New England-y.
Studio Cafe is a new Westport gathering spot.
“People who come here ‘get it,'” says Petra Barguss, an artist who handles the square’s social media.
“But not everyone knows how much has been done here.”
So next Saturday (October 15, noon to 5 p.m.), Sconset Square hosts a Fall Fete.
There will be a pizza truck, and live music by Tangled Vine. Every store will offer a special activity, from cider to raffles to a pumpkin toss.
Bungalow is a long-time tenant in Sconset Square.
Sconset Square has always lacked an identity — and signage.
The new signs are not yet up. But the identity is now strong. Here’s a quick look at the tenants:
UpNorth — Allison Daniels Design: Hand-crafted, custom jewelry and accessories.
Swoon: Contemporary art and photography; design services, furniture and antiques.
Yoya: Sources whimsical 0-12 children’s clothing and accessories from exclusive European brands.
Bespoke Designs: Elegant, personalized invitations and stationery; hotel silver, tableware and linens too.
Casa Me: Cocktails, an Italian menu, coffee; light, airy, with a long bar and outdoor dining.
Blossom + Stem: Fresh flower bouquets and arrangements for private homes, corporate events and weddings.
The Brady Collection: Curated collection of luxury wall coverings and textiles from boutique brands (appointment only).
Bungalow: Furniture, antiques, textiles, jewelry and books for decorators and clients.
The Tailored Home: Eclectic, locally bench-made furniture, mirrors and lighting, with upholstery fabrics.
Studio Café: Coffee and juice bar with Spanish dishes (empanadas, tortillas) plsu salads and sandwiches.
Jenni Kayne Home: Custom furniture, textiles and homeware in natural finishes; cashmere and alpaca loungewear, organic skincare balms and candles.
Everyone in Westport has a stake in affordable housing.
For the first time, all 4 political parties — including the 2 formed around land-use issues — have joined to co-sponsor a forum.
Tomorrow (Tuesday, April 12, 7 p.m., Town Hall and Zoom at www.westportct.gov), 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Planning & Zoning Commission chair Danielle Dobin host a community conversation about Westport’s “5-Year Affordability Plan.” It’s a joint effort of the Republican and Democratic Town Committees, Save Westport Now and the Coalition for Westport.
Among Westport’s affordable housing options: Sasco Creek Village.
Six weeks after Russia invade Ukraine, Tyler Hicks continues to show the carnage to the world.
The 1988 Staples High School graduate — a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer — is now in Kramatorsk, where more than 50 civilians trying to flee the region were killed in a train station missile attack.
This is one of several striking images posted yesterday by the Times. Click here for more.
A worker cleans debris outside the Kramatorsk train station. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)
A large crowd Saturday night helped launch what is believed to be the public library record label in the world.
The first vinyl on that first label is “Verso Records: Volume 1.” It’s a 500-copy compilation of emerging and established musicians in the tri-state region.
They play a variety of genres, including jazz, rock, folk, indie and hip hop. All tracks were recorded at the Library’s Verso Studios, a state-of-the-art, hybrid-analog SSL facility.
Chris Frantz — a founding member of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club, and a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee — calls himself “a major fan of the Westport Library, and the creativity they’re cultivating in artists throughout the region.”
Tracks available for download include Daniprobably (indie pop band), Alexandra Burnet and the Stable Six (ethereal singer-songwriter and band), Ports of Spain, (indie rock) and the Zambonis (“hockey rock”).
The album also includes hip hop artists MIGHTYMOONCHEW and Dooley-O; post punk artists Lulu Lewis; new wave musician Nicki Butane; singer-songwriter Terri Lynn; the John Collinge Jazz Quartet; indie rockers Tiny Ocean; garage punk band The Problem with Kids Today, and roots Americana rock The Split Coils.
Two folks with longtime Westport roots have joined the board of the Remarkable Theater.
David Waldman will serve as co-president. Angela Wormser is the director of workforce.
Waldman and his wife Yvette have supported the the Remarkable Theater since its inception. Since founding David Adam Realty in 1991, he has developed some of the area’s most important commercial properties, including Bedford Square and the west bank of the Saugatuck River. Waldman is also a past president of the Westport Downtown Association, and has sat on its board for almost 2 decades. He was also a board member of the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee.
Wormser, an educator with a strong background in special educaiton, will help expand the Remarkable’s mission of creating opportunities for people with disabilities.
Angela’s role will focus on helping expand The Remarkable’s mission of creating opportunities for individuals with disabilities.
The current board includes State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and filmmaker Douglas Tirola. Both have been members since the beginning of the Westport Cinema Initiative. Stacie Curran continues as vice president and secretary.
When Pastor Alison Patton embarks on a sabbatical in June, Saugatuck Congregational Church welcomes a “theologian in residence.”
Jim Antal — a nationally recognized climate expert, and author of “Climate Church, Climate World,” will share his expertise with the congregation and greater community through conversations, discussions, lectures and sermons.
The church seeks housing for Antal and his wife for their 3-week stay in June (June 1-22). A donation of living space, bedroom and kitchen is ideal; an inexpensive rental is the second option.
Anyone offering either possibility should email Priscilla Long: email@example.com.
Saugatuck Congregational Church seeks housing for a guest pastor.
Dr. Stephen Rubin, a Westport resident for over 55 years, died last week after a battle with cancer. The educational philosopher and innovator was 83.
After graduating from Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, he studied education and general systems theory at Brooklyn College and New York University. where he earned his (first) Ph.D. in 1965.
At 23 Dr. Rubin, became the principal of Center School in New Canaan. He made an indelible mark on education, student success and the hearts and minds of multiple generations of students, faculty and other staff from 1965 until 1983, when it closed.
Under his direction, and with a strong staff of teachers and administrators, Center School became a social-educational experiment featured in national publications like Newsweek and the New York Times for its extraordinary atmosphere and remarkable outcomes.
After closing Center School, Rubin served as assistant superintendent of schools in New Canaan until his first retirement in 2003.
As founder and president of the Institute for General Systems Management, He brought his vision about elementary education to a national audience. He was a frequent speaker at The Aspen Institute. Rubin also authored the book Public Schools Should Learn to Ski: A Systems Based Approach to Education; it is still considered seminal reading at the Harvard School of Education.
In 1994 Rubin joined the administrative faculty at Sacred Heart University, where he was founder and director of Educational Leadership and Management. He retired in 2014.
He met Adrienne Jurow in 1959, when they both taught at the same school in Brooklyn. They married in 1961.
Rubin and his wife had homes in Ridgefield; Boynton Beach, Florida, and Truro, Massachusetts. He is survived by son Jason (Louise) and daughter Tory Miller (Robert), plus grandchildren Damon, Madison, Olivia, Alexandria and Trevor, and nephew Seth.
During her 20 years as owner of Yoya, Christina Villegas grew the West Village children’s fashion store into a 60-brand neighborhood mecca. It was a true community, with European fashions moms loved.
She enjoyed living in the city. But Colombia-born Christina and her Danish husband realized they needed more space for their children. They visited nearly every town on the water, in every direction from Manhattan.
Christina Villegas, with her daughters.
Westport was love at first sight. “The vibe, the people, the beauty, the beach — I just had a feeling this was the right place,” Christina says.
They bought a house that had been on the market a while. She commuted to Yoya, while also renovating her new home.
Then COVID struck. Her rent — which had already increased dramatically — proved too much to handle. Christina made the heartbreaking decision to close.
But as that West Village door closed, a new Westport door opened. Christina found 2nd-floor space in Sconset Square — above Bespoke Designs — to open a new Yoya.
Sconset Square Yoya, above Bespoke Designs.
That too felt right. She’s surrounded by “cool stores and creative people.” She loves the vibe that property owner David Waldman has created there.
Yoya highlights Christina’s multicultural perspective on children’s clothing, carrying nearly 2 dozen brands. She also offers fun women’s wear, and interior design.
The shop opened at the end of December. Customers are excited, the owner says. “There are some cute kids’ stores in Westport,” she notes. “But this really focuses on design and visuals.”
Christina Villegas, with some of her selections.
Sconset Square is not the West Village. But, Christina says, her New York neighborhoods “seemed like a small town.”
Now she’s in a real one. starting her second act on the second floor.
Howard Maynard died Sunday in Westport. He had lived here for 62 years.
After serving with the military in Korea for almost 2 years, Howard graduated from the University of California at Berkeley. He worked for Westinghouse in Bridgeport, then for 3 decades for Exxon in New York, in computer applications. He spent 4 years in London, where he developed an email system for the company.
After Exxon, he applied his knowledge and skills to Young & Rubicam in New York.
Howard was a skilled craftsman in his wood shop and darkroom. He loved chamber music and cars.
He served on many boards, including Human Services, the Westport Weston Health Department and Westport Library. He was proud of assisting with the library’s renovation.
His family says that Howard “lived a long and peaceful life. He was spare with his words and logical with his thinking. He fervently expressed gratitude for all he was given and obtained during his life — proud of his career and his post-retirement volunteer work for Westport.
“What really mattered to Howard, however, was his family, especially Mary, his wife of 65 years. They made the most of their time together, traveling often and widely.
Mary survives him, as do their children Douglass Maynard, Mallory McGrath and Allison deVaux and 7 grandchildren.
He donated his body to Yale Medical School. No services are planned. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Regional Hospice in Danbury.
And finally … Gary Brooker died Saturday, at 76, after battling cancer.
He was Procol Harum’s singer, pianist and composerin . The British band’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is one of the most memorable from the 1967 Summer of Love. It’s #57 on Rolling Stones “500 Greatest Songs of All Time,” and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
But Procol Harum was much more than just that Bach-derived song with haunting, mystical lyrics. They played and toured for 50 years. And in 2003 — in recognition of his charitable service — Queen Elizabeth made Gary Brooker a Member of the Order of the British Empire. Click here for a wonderful obituary.
In the alley between Main Street and Bedford Square are floodgates no longer in use. David Waldman — the developer of the mixed-use center between Main Street and Church Lane — asked the WAAC how the gates could look more attractive.
The arts organization commissioned 5 artists to turn them into a history of our town: Westporters Eric Chiang, Jana Irejo and Rebecca Ross, Norwalk’s Hernan Garcia and Iyaba Mandingo of Bridgeport.
At 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 16, the WAAC will unveil their 5 paintings at the Main Street entrance to the Bedford Square courtyard. The works include early life among Native Americans, and Black life and culture here.
A “concept slide” of what the floodgate art might look like. These are not the finished pieces.
A professor at North Carolina State University College of Art and Design, and a noted collagist whose colorful, culturally symbolic work incorporates themes from his extensive travels to Ghana, he’s no stranger to Westport.
In 1964 he came to Westport through an American Friends Service program that brought 35 Southern students to the North to promote integration. Joyner lived with the Ader family.
After graduating from Staples High School he headed to Iowa State University on a football scholarship, transferred to North Carolina A&T, then earned a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.
Joyner’s, and other newly acquired art, will be part of the WPAC’s first-ever public showing of dozens of works at MoCA Westport. The event opens January 28, and runs through March 13.
Charles Joyner’s mixed media work “Village @ Ntoso” has been acquired by the Westport Public Art Collections.
The inaugural episode of “0688o: The Podcast” was a hit. I chatted with superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice about how he came here, his challenges and joys, and what’s ahead for the district.
This week’s guest — David Waldman — is a native Westporter. He too has a huge impact on our town. He’s the developer behind Bedford Square, and the new offices and condos on the west side of the Saugatuck River. He’s revitalized Sconset Square, and turned an old bank into Patagonia.
There’s much more he’d love to do, in the town he loves. I asked him about Westport — what works, what doesn’t, and why — and he answered candidly.
We had a great time at the Westport Library’s Verso Studios. Click here to see my interview with David Waldman.
When you’re done, you’ll never look at downtown the same way again.
Screenshot of David Waldman on “06880: The Podcast.”
COVID has caused many organizations to move meetings online.
You can’t do that with a hiking club, though. So the Y’s Men group has adapted. They meet in smaller numbers now. They maintain strict social distance — 8 feet, just to be sure. They wear masks when they assemble.
But they still get their exercise. And their miles.
Twice a week, Chris Lewis leads 10 to 15 hikers. He knows all the trails, throughout the county.
Wednesday hikes are 2 hours long. Friday’s are more strenuous, and can take up to 3. Only heavy rain or extremely slippery conditions stop the Y’s Men.
In addition, “walkers” meet nearly every day. They avoid difficult trail conditions.
This may not be the Y’s Men’s motto. But it should be: “COVID? Take a hike!”
(Hat tip: Michael Hehenberger)
A recent hike at Trout Brook Preserve, owned and managed by Aspetuck Land Trust. Tom Johnson (3rd from left) is a Y’s Men hiker and ALT member. (Photo/Sal Mollica)
Dave Briggs is one of the best interviewers around. He brings out the best in his subjects, in a relaxed, fun and insightful way. His Instagram Live chats are always intriguing.
And I’m not just saying that because I was a recent guest.
Today (Wednesday, January 6, 4 p.m.), he’ll chat with David Waldman. They’ll talk about the commercial realtor’s work developing Bedford Square and the west bank of the Saugatuck River, bringing Barnes & Noble downtown, and much more.
Head to @WestportMagazine on Instagram. You’ll be entertained — and learn a lot.
“Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story” is ready for prime time.
Or at least, Amazon Prime.
The 70-minute movie by Robert Steven Williams — starring Sam Waterston and Keir Dullea, covering F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s formative summer in Westport — is available on the streaming service.
The New Yorker called it one of the best films of 2020. Click here, and judge for yourself. (Hat tip: David Meth)
David Tarqueno died on December 24 at Norwalk Hospital, from complications of COVID-19. He was 61 years old.
His obituary says, “David left behind an incredible number of friends who loved him. His personality was like no other. His presence could light up a room. His smile, his laughter and his humor will remain with every heart he touched.
“David loved fishing — he was out there every fishing season opening day. Nature and animals were an important part of his life. He was devoted to his family and friends. That devotion was selfless, his trust boundless, and love endless.”
The Staples High School graduate is survived by his parents, Joseph and Marianne Tarqueno; sister Lisa Tarqueno-Crawford; brother Peter Tarqueno, and his beloved dog Harry.
And finally … today, the Electoral College meets. Will Vice President Pence do what Joe Biden did as vice president 4 years ago (and Al Gore, George H.W. Bush and many others before him), affirming the legitimate winner of the election 2 months earlier?
Or will American democracy be launched into a parallel universe, one in which lunacy rules and losers’ temper tantrums make us the laughingstock of the world?
To everyone’s surprise, one unintended consequence of COVID-19 has been a sizzling local real estate market.
Tucked into that surprise: A luxury condominium project that was given up for dead has roared back to life.
Bankside’s 12 units will rise soon on Wilton Avenue, at the site of the now-demolished Save the Children building. The design takes advantage of the Saugatuck River location. There is only one residence per floor — and stunning views.
Artist’s rendering of the Bankside condos.
Bankside began in 2013. David Waldman — the developer of Bedford Square, and many other local projects — joined with Greenfield Partners (whose offices are in nearby National Hall) to buy the Save the Children site.
Waldman and Greenfield hired Roger Ferris + Partners — the architectural firm that designed many new buildings on the river’s west bank — to bring their vision of a spectacular new development to life. It included a new office building, and a land swap to create a right-turn lane at the notorious Wilton Road/Post Road West bottleneck.
The office building was built — and has already been sold. But the 7-year residential slog included the town’s denial of the land swap, and a drying up of the luxury condo market.
A year ago Waldman, Greenfield and their investors were ready to sell that building site at a loss.
Then coronavirus struck. Suddenly the suburbs seemed more attractive than cities. The housing market changed dramatically.
Waldman found a new partner. He sold the land to Eric O’Brien — owner of the innovative New Haven building firm Urbane — but stayed on as part of the development group.
Work begins soon on Ferris’ design. Unlike most condos, 10 of the 12 units will share only floors and ceilings — no walls. Windows will look out on the river and downtown on one side, woods and hills on another. Patios of up to 800 square feet front the water.
The condos feature outdoor living on the river.
Ten of the units are 2,500 square feet, including 2 bedrooms and a den. The other 2 units are 3,400 square feet, with 3 bedrooms. Prices range from $2.25 million to $4.25 million.
Completion is scheduled for spring of 2022. Click here for more details.
Alert “06880” reader — and very talented graphic designer/artist/ arts supporter/amazing civic volunteer — Miggs Burroughs writes:
The Drew Friedman Community Arts Center sponsored free art classes last spring and summer for middle school kids in town. They were developed and run by local artist Katherine Ross and her daughter Rebecca.
Randy Herbertson — president of the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — hosted the classes at his Visual Brand office on Church Lane.
The most recent class project was a collaborative mural. It was conceived and executed by the students, based on the idea to “Shop Local.” That’s been a mantra of (among others) David Waldman, who developed Bedford Square across the street on Church Lane. Each youngster created a different letter.
When Waldman saw the mural, he asked to display it in Bedford Square. It now hangs in the window of #11.
It’s very satisfying to have some of Westport’s biggest players come together to support art, created by some of our youngest talents.
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