Posted onAugust 6, 2019|Comments Off on Broad Horizons At Wakeman Town Farm
It always feels good to attend a fundraiser for a local organization. (And there are many fundraisers and groups in Westport.)
You eat and drink well. You’re entertained, and can win cool auction and raffle items. Plus, you’re contributing to a worthy cause.
However, you don’t always know exactly where your money goes.
If you attended last fall’s Harvest Fest at Wakeman Town Farm though, read on. (Keep reading if you didn’t go too, of course.)
Some of those funds went to support Horizons at Sacred Heart University. The tuition-free academic enrichment program serves low-income Bridgeport students in kindergarten through 8th grade. It’s one of 60 national chapters.
Thanks to Harvest Fest, more than 170 youngsters came to WTF last week. They learned about life on a farm, and got hands-on experiences with animals and plants.
Learning about life at Wakeman Town Farm.
On Friday, they had a huge pizza party. Volunteers fired up the new wood oven, donated by Robin Tauck (with stone from the Gault Family, and a gas grill by the Wormser family). Transportation was underwritten by Bankwell Westport.
But none of it would have been possible without help from Harvest Fest.
Remember that the next time you head to a fundraiser. The catered food and fancy wine is wonderful. Tickets to a Yankees Stadium suite, or a vacation at someone’s Caribbean home, is nice.
But the true joy comes when your money is put to good, real, important use.
Every kid loves pizza. Every counselor worries about the time. (Photos/Robert Osgood)
Comments Off on Broad Horizons At Wakeman Town Farm
In 2017 — nearly 75 years later — the organization provided $300,000 in assistance to over 100 recipients. They were graduating seniors, and college students who had received previous grants. They’re attending public and private universities, junior colleges and vocational schools.
They supplement their grants with jobs. They work hard. They’re grateful that college — exponentially more expensive than ever — can be a reality.
Some of the awardees at the 2015 Staples Tuition Grants ceremony.
STG is rightfully proud that for three-quarters of a century, they’ve provided millions of dollars to tens of thousands of students.
So they’re throwing a party. The theme — naturally — is “75 years of college.”
Set for Saturday, March 10 (7 p.m., Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church), the casual, fun event features college-ish food (pizza, burgers), drink (keg beer, wine) and music from (most) attendees’ college years. There could be ping pong and foosball too.
Party-goers are encouraged to wear their school colors or logowear. A 1955 recipient has already RSVP-ed. Organizers hope other former recipients will attend too.
The cost is $75. (It’s a fundraiser, obviously.) Organizers are soliciting 75 business sponsors, at $100 each (in honor of that first-ever grant).
Gault Energy and Melissa & Doug have signed on as lead sponsors.
Igor Pikayzen — a 2005 Staples grad, and STG recipient — will play. Westport filmmaker Doug Tirola — whose father was on the STG board — is making a special video. Former STG recipients Ned Batlin and Trevor Lally will give brief remarks. So will Miggs Burroughs, who designed the logo.
Everyone — Staples grads, and those of every other high school; college alumni and people who never went; anyone who ever got a scholarship, and anyone who did not — is invited to the 75th anniversary celebration.
Let’s make sure that Staples Tuition Grants is still doing great deeds in 2093 — 75 years from now.
(Click here for tickets to the 75th anniversary celebration, and more information. If you’re a former recipient and would like to be taped for a video, or are interested in helping sponsor the event, email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Recent polar temperatures set records, for lows and lengths. And if they didn’t, it was cold comfort — they were close enough.
In the sub-zero midst, alert “06880” reader Scott Brodie sent this suggestion for Unsung Heroes: the folks at our local energy companies — like Hoffman and Gault — who worked overtime to keep so many home heating systems up and toasty.
Local oil companies provide great, cheerful service — even when the weather isn’t as gorgeous as in this shot.
Scott should know. The other day, his mother Esther noticed her house felt a bit chilly.
The furnace was not cycling on — even though the thermostat crept below the set point. She checked the tank monitor on her tank. There was plenty of oil.
Esther called Hoffman. She was told she was “3rd in line.”
Just an hour or so later — at 8:30 p.m. — a repairman knocked on her door. He quickly identified the problem: A thermostat wire had come loose. Within minutes, the problem was fixed.
On his way out, he even straightened out a glitch in Esther’s cable TV service.
“Warm thanks are clearly in order,” Scott says.
For sure. It’s service Westporters have come to expect from local companies like Hoffman and Gault.
But it’s service we should never take for granted. And always be grateful for.
(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email email@example.com)
Last week’s photo challenge showed an old coal bin, on a couple of yards of rail track.
It’s right on the Saugatuck River, behind Saugatuck Sweets. Gault Energy put it there when Saugatuck Center was being redeveloped (in part by their company) several years ago. It pays homage to the long-ago days when boats brought coal up the river to Gault’s headquarters. The coal made part of its journey by rail, before being delivered to Westport customers. Click here for the photo.
Seth Schachter answered correctly, within 4 minutes of the posting. He was followed quickly by William Adler, Daniel Cummings, Virginia Tienken, Robert Mitchell, Peter Flatow, Jamie Roth, Linda Amos, Seth Goltzer, Josh Moritz and Brandon Malin. Congratulations to all (and thanks to Saugatuck Sweets, whose treats are the reason so many folks are down by the river in the first place).
This week’s photo challenge comes courtesy of John Videler. Coincidentally, he grew up right across the river from where the Gault coal bin now sits.
But his image shows a different place entirely. If you know where it is, click “Comments” below.
This morning, the company — Westport’s oldest business (by about a century) — announced a major corporate rebranding. And a new corporate umbrella.
Plus a modern new logo.
Gault’s new logo (and name).
Gault Energy & Stone will now be called Gault Family Companies. Three rebranded lines of business — Energy & Home Solutions, Stone & Landscape Supplies, and Properties & Development — will operate under it.
Sam Gault is the 5th generation to head the family firm. He and his marketing team began the process 3 years ago, soon after the company’s 150th anniversary. They were assisted by Westport-based The Visual Brand.
Sam Gault says the new logo and expanded corporate structure “capture our rich history, and reveal our ambitious plans for the future.
“From our humble beginnings as a hauling business with a single horse and wagon, the company has continued to evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of the communities we serve, always focusing on delivering exceptional personalized service.”
Horses hauling coal in front of the company’s 19 Riverside Avenue building (1905-08).
During its 15 decades, Gault has morphed from hauling into coal, sand, oil and, most recently, energy solutions.
Adding “Home Solutions” to its energy brand will help the company showcase its many services — such as providing bioheat and propane delivery, low cost-electricity, high-efficiency heating and air conditioning equipment insulation, standby generator installation, and maintenance and repair.
The stone and masonry supply business provides a full range of interior and exterior services. Adding “landscape” to the brand signals a growing partnership with homeowners.
Hamilton Development — Gault’s real estate arm — is best known for its award-winning mixed-use Saugatuck Center development. But the real estate footprint also includes many other commercial and real estate properties. Sam Gault says the brand focuses on “best practices when it comes to design-build, livability, energy efficiency and stone and masonry work.”
The logo that Gault retired today.
As for the new “G” logo: Its swoop gives a nod to the company’s history, but in a modern way.
Gault has been a strong, steady presence in Westport since the Lincoln administration. The company has always supported the town, in ways big and small (and often anonymously).
May Gault Family Companies — and the Gault family — thrive for at least another 163 years.
(To learn more about Gault’s 1st 150 years, click here.)
The 1914 logo…
…and one from the 1960s.
Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!
Everyone knows the oldest company in Westport: Gault.
Founded in 1863, it’s been a Saugatuck mainstay for 153 years.
At 89 years old, Riverside Barber Shop could be Gault’s grandchild.
But after nearly 9 decades here, it’s probably Westport’s 2nd oldest company.
“Riverside” may be a misnomer. For its first 82 years it was indeed located on Riverside Avenue — a few yards away from Gault.
For over 8 decades Riverside Barber Shop sat on Riverside Avenue (right). DeRosa’s restaurant was on the left.
In all those years, there were just 4 owners. John Santella opened it in 1927. His son Lou — the legendary “Mayor of Saugatuck” — took over from John. In 1999 Lou retired, and sold his shop to Pat Vigilio.
In 2009 Pat moved Riverside Barber to Post Road West — above Greg & Tony’s salon — when as part of the Saugatuck Center project, his building and the adjacent DeRosa’s restaurant were torn down.* (Pat donated his barber pole to the Westport Historical Society.)
Pat recently retired. The new owner is Tammy Stefanidis. She worked for Pat for 7 years, then spent the next few at home, raising her family.
Now she’s back.
Tammy Stefanidis, new owner of the very old Riverside Barber Shop.
Tammy knows the barber shop’s history. She’s proud that longtime — very longtime — customers keep coming back. She doesn’t plan any big changes.
But she does have one interesting offer.
If you’d like to donate your hair to Locks of Love — the non-profit providing hairpieces to children and teenagers suffering medical hair loss — stop in to Riverside Barber Shop.
Tammy will cut it for free.
*Bonus fact: Saugatuck Center was developed by Gault.
The opening of Harvest restaurant — in the former Mario’s space — has brought renewed attention to Railroad Place.
It’s also reminded people of the long-rumored Railroad Place project — a redevelopment plan for a larger area that shares the name of the small but significant street on the westbound side of the railroad station.
With Saugatuck Center completed and thriving — Riverside Avenue is now a hot spot filled with new restaurants, a butcher shop, gourmet food store, sweet shop, paddle rental store, 27 apartments and more — Westporters have waited for the next phase.
It’s unrelated — who’s-who-wise — to the Gault family’s Saugatuck Center work. But it’s been rumored for years, as a natural next step.
Negotiations have proceeded, in fits and starts, since 2011. In 2012, LandTech — the highly regarded engineering and planning firm headquartered on Riverside Avenue — drew up an RFP for the families who have owned the property for nearly 100 years, to seek developers.
It involved all the land bordered by Railroad Place, Charles Street and Riverside Avenue, as well as the private parking lot adjacent to Luciano Park.
All the land, that is, except the Mario’s/Harvest building, and the grim, out-of-character office building at 21 Charles Street. They have their own owners. All the rest of the property in the plan is owned by 2 families.
An aerial view of the proposed Railroad Place development. Charles Street (including the office building) is at left; the train tracks run diagonally across the top. Luciano Park is at the bottom. Click on or hover over to enlarge.
LandTech’s proposal — in collaboration with Westport architect Peter Wormser — envisions an entirely new look for the 3-acre space.
Steps next to Harvest will lead to a bluestone plaza, similar to the one between the Whelk and Saugatuck Sweets that draws musicians, sunbathers and people-watchers.
A view from the westbound train platform across Railroad Place.
Surrounding the plaza will be a mix of retail stores and apartments. There’s room for a small movie theater and boutique hotel.
A closeup of the rendering above. Mario’s is, of course, now Harvest restaurant.
Nearby, planners envision an enclosed, year-round green market.
Two levels of underground parking would accommodate 480 cars.
It’s not a done deal, of course. The 4-story development would need a zone change, to embrace Transit-Oriented Development (programs to link transportation centers with surrounding neighborhoods). The floor area ration would require a text amendment.
The view across Riverside Avenue, from Tutti’s. The buildings in the artist’s rendering would replace the current cleaners and adjacent buildings. The Charles Street office building is on the far right.
The project has moved very slowly, in part because of land valuation questions. No developer has yet signed on.
But Railroad Place — the property — is an unpolished gem, waiting to shine. Bordered by existing businesses and a train station — with a major highway nearby — it’s ripe for development.
Stores and shops in the proposed Railroad Place development.
Exciting plans have been available for several years. They’ve been shopped around, creating excitement among everyone who’s seen them.
The 2 families that own most of Railroad Place have not yet agreed on the next steps. When — that is, if — they do, the future of one of Westport’s most intriguing, often-underutilized sections of town could be very, very cool.
When they’re not brutally bashing each other in the Comments section, “06880” readers are united in a love of Westport’s past.
So today’s post is something we all can agree on: Helping Gault celebrate its 150-year legacy in town.
Today, the company that’s morphed from coal, sand and oil into energy solutions launches a “Call for Memories” campaign. The aim: putting a modern spin on the time-honored tradition of sending congratulatory messages.
A delivery truck in 1939. Check out the phone number on the side: “5181.” Today, it’s 203-227-5181.
At a mere 100 years old — in 1963, the year civil rights protesters were fire-hosed in Alabama, and JFK was killed — Gault received hundreds of letters, cards and telegrams (!). Senders shared personal memories of great experiences with the company and family.
Telegrams have gone the way of the Gaults’ 1st delivery method — horse-drawn wagons. Cards and letters are headed that way soon.
So this time, Westport’s oldest business has created an online site — gault150.com/memories — to collect 150th-anniversary memories from family friends, organizations, trade partners, and Gault Energy & Stone employees and customers across Fairfield County.
These memories will be showcased on the company’s anniversary website www.gault150.com, as well as in a commemorative booklet and at this summer’s Westport Historical Society exhibit, “Five Generations of Yankee Ingenuity: The Gault Family.”
Gault’s facility towered over its Riverside Avenue neighbors — like the legendary Jockey Club directly in front — in this 1953 shot.
Sam Gault — the 5th generation to lead the company, who was born (cue the eerie music) during that centennial year — has spent several months passing around the company’s 100th anniversary files, which were sealed for 50 years.
“Many of us saw these for the very first time,” Sam says. “It’s amazing to read through everything my father and grandfather received 5 decades ago. These mementos are priceless to me and to my family.”
Now, Sam says, “we’re scanning hundreds of fragile documents and photos that trace our family and company’s 150-year history. This campaign will assure that our more recent history will be preserved for the next 150 years and beyond.”
Sam hopes these memories — like first selectman Gordon Joseloff playing baseball in the 1950son Gault Field (now houses on Imperial Avenue) — will inspire others to describe how the Gault family and businesses have touched their lives.
Gault Field, on the river side of Imperial Avenue, brought Little League baseball to Westport in 1947.
Three generations of the Gault family will choose some of those memories for inclusion in a time capsule at the family’s Compo Road South barn. It will be opened at the company’s 200th anniversary.
“06880” readers in 2063 will no doubt still enjoy looking back, when not engaged in debates over the poor parking habits of hovercraft drivers, and whether the YMCA should move from its longtime Mahackeno home to a new location.
(To submit memories to the Gault site, click here. For more information about the Gault family history and the company’s 150th anniversary celebration, click here.)
As Mitchells celebrates its 55th anniversary, we marvel that the 4th generation of family members waits in the wings.
But those 2 town institutions have the life spans of fruit flies, compared to Gault.
Westport’s oldest family-owned business is 150 years young this year.
You want a historical reference? It was founded two years before Abraham Lincoln won his battle to pass the 13th Amendment. You know — that ancient event Steven Spielberg is about to win multiple Oscars for.
On Thursday, the company will kick off a year-long anniversary celebration. They’ll find many ways to honor their heritage — moving from a one-horse and wagon hauling enterprise, through freight hauling, grain threshing, seed supplies and lumber to coal, masonry supplies, home heating oil, and now biofuel, propane, electricity and standby generators — along with their century and a half of commitment to Westport.
While the details of the “150 Years of Community” celebration are hush-hush, one item is significant. The press event will be held at the Gault family’s historic Compo Road South barn.
You’ve driven past the barns a jazillion times — they’re on the right, a half mile or so from the Post Road as you head to the beach.
The Gault Barns today. (Photo courtesy of Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation)
But you may not know — I sure didn’t — that they are historic structures. Their timber frame construction reflects the building traditions of American farming.
A Connecticut Trust researcher says, “the Gault family showed uncommon ingenuity by integrating a variety of materials from their lines of business, including brick and stone masonry, into the barns to create a truly unique complex.”
The barns have endured since the time when wagons gave way to automobiles. That was the early 20th century — and the Gault company had already been around as long as Mario’s has now been a Westport fixture.
Beef steers by the Gault barn, winter of 1930.
While many Westport barns have, um, bought the farm, the Gault family used theirs in evolving ways — to “support and take advantage of changes in the community over time, from dairy farming to lumber and feed grain, to coal and home heating delivery.”
The Gault barns are prized by historians and curators for their architectural bones and historical narrative. They’ve been lovingly preserved and maintained.
In fact, says the Connecticut Trust, they’re among the Top 10 historically significant barns in the state.
Big deal. The Gault family — and their company — have been #1 in service to Westport for decades longer than those barns have even existed.
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