Tag Archives: Gorham Island

Pic Of The Day #835

Serene Saugatuck River scene, taken from the Parker Harding footbridge near Rye Ridge deli (Photo/Lucy Zeko)

Pic Of The Day #241

View from Duck Haven (Kings Highway North) to Gorham Island (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Friday Flashback #47

July 4th marked the 56th anniversary of one of the most famous events on Gorham Island.

Around 2 a.m. that morning in 1961 Brendan McLaughlin — a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive — shot and killed his father during a family argument.

The murder took place in the McLaughlins’ old Victorian house on Gorham Island. The house was originally built on Main Street, then moved to the island.

The Victorian house on Gorham Island in 1971. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

McLaughlin fled. An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road. He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.

Officers chased him into the parking lot, where he shot officer Andrew Chapo. A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.

Chapo and Bennette recovered.  McLaughlin died several weeks later.

The other famous Gorham Island event was when that handsome — if haunted — home was demolished, over a decade later. Another structure nearby was also razed.

Today a 40,000-square foot green-and-gold-glass office building fills Gorham Island.

Which no one except those who remember the old house calls it anymore.

Close-up of the Gorham Island house, 1973. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

Friday Flashback #27

As Bedford Square nears completion — and an Elm Street/Baldwin parking lot land swap is back in the news — it’s a great time for a bird’s-eye view of downtown Westport, 1965-style.

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

It’s tough to see the old Y (new Bedford Square), or any part of Elm Street, thanks to the trees. But this photo — by R.P. Lentini, courtesy of alert “06880” reader Matt Murray — intrigues me for several reasons. Among them:

  • The old Victorian house still stood on Gorham Island
  • The Wright Street building was a decade in the future
  • The building between Christ & Holy Trinity Church, and what is now Seabury Center.

What stands out for you? Click “Comments” below.

15 Belden Place: 3 Different Views

A photo with this morning’s post about the upcoming demolition of 15 Belden Place — the charming red house on the Saugatuck River, in the midst of downtown — did not show that storied property in the best light.

I took it yesterday, from the dirt parking lot leading down from Main Street.

From that vantage point, many Westporters would not recognize the house that for years has been home to artists, teachers and other less-than-McMansion-type tenants.

But anyone who ever stood at the edge of Gorham Island, and gazed at the soothing marshland just a few feet from Parker Harding Plaza, will recognize this view from 2000, by Andrea Fine:

EPSON MFP image

And this one:

(Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

(Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

Here’s a more distant shot, by Jaime Bairaktaris:

15-belden-place-2-jaime-bairaktaris

Now you know what the loss of this house will mean to Westport, right?

(Hat tip: Morley Boyd)

Friday Flashback #4

Today — dwarfed by a 40,000-square-foot office building — it’s hard to imagine that Gorham Island even is an island.

But the spit of land now joined to Parker Harding Plaza was once home to a gorgeous Victorian home. (Though — like many other structures in Westport — it apparently was built elsewhere, then moved.)

Gorham Island house

In addition to being a favorite subject for artists, the Gorham Island home was known for something else.

Early on July 4th morning of 1961, Brendan McLaughlin — a former Marine working as a New York advertising executive — shot and killed his father during a family argument inside the house.

McLaughlin fled.  An hour before dawn he burst into the police station on Jesup Road.  He pulled out a semi-automatic pistol and fired at 2 policemen behind the front desk, wounding Donald Bennette.

Officers chased him into the parking lot, where he shot officer Andrew Chapo.  A shootout ensued; McLaughlin was wounded.

Chapo and Bennette recovered.  McLaughlin died several weeks later.

Oh My 06880 — Photo Challenge #75

Westport has more tunnels than anyone realizes.

Some are well-known. Others are obscure. A few are hidden in plain sight.

Among the last group is the Saugatuck River passage at the back of Parker Harding Plaza. It’s on the right (east) side of Gorham Island as you paddle upriver. (It’s not always navigable. Check the tides!)

Richard Stein was the only “06880” reader to nail last week’s photo challenge. He’s good!

Incorrect guesses for Seth Schachter’s image included the nearby Ruth Steinkraus Cohen bridge (where the flags fly); Post Road West to Nash’s Pond; Sherwood Mill Pond to Sherwood Island; Sasco Creek to Southport Beach, and 2 pedestrian tunnels (some readers thought the water came from floods); Main Street to Parker Harding Plaza (transformed last year by Miggs Burroughs’ lenticular photos), and the Saugatuck train station. To see last week’s photo and all the guesses, click here

It’s on to this week’s challenge. As always, click “Comments” if you think you know where in Westport you’d see this:

Oh My 06880 - June 5, 2016

Remembering Gorham Island

Wednesday’s “06880” story on the death of Sidney Kramer included a few lines about his founding of Save Westport Now. The impetus for Westport’s 3rd political party was the construction of a 40,000-square foot glass office building on Gorham Island, diagonally across Parker Harding Plaza from Kramer’s Remarkable Book Shop.

Reader Kathleen Burke was reminded of a beautiful watercolor postcard. Artist Walter Dubois Richards created it, as part of the campaign to save the Victorian house that sat on Gorham Island.

Whether all you know of that spot is the bile-green office — or if you fondly remember the old home there — you’ll appreciate Richards’ painting:

Gorham Island - Walter Dubois Richards

Here’s another view, of unknown origin:

Gorham Island house

Noted artist Al Willmott painted this view of Gorham Island and downtown:

Gorham Island by Don Willmott

As did famed “Little Toot” artist Hardie Gramatky:

Gorham Island by Hardie Gramatky

Here’s the view today:

Gorham Island office

We can’t get that house back. But it wasn’t because Sidney Kramer didn’t try.

Very Inn-teresting

Downtown Westport CT

What a view!  If you were looking for lodging in Westport, and saw this on a website — as I did — wouldn’t it make you want to book a room at the Inn at National Hall, the handsome building smack in the center of the photo?

Sure.  Unfortunately, this shot serves as the centerpiece of the website for the Westport Inn, a decidedly different establishment several miles east.  Guests there gaze out upon a pediatrician’s office, gas station and Goodwill.

This elastic view of reality reminds me of an ad a few years ago for space at the Gorham Island office building — located coincidentally just behind where the photographer stood to take the photo above.

The artist got a bit carried away depicting the glories of the Saugatuck River.  There, gliding majestically past the suddenly non-intrusive glass building, was a 3-masted schooner.

Must have been real low tide underneath the Post Road bridge that day.