As the real estate market continues to sizzle, Seth Schachter sends a couple of reminders that Westport has long been a favored destination.
And that realtors have long used lots of prose to sell homes.
The September 1925 edition of “Country Life” noted that “Amid century old trees … there is an old Colonial home available to him who seeks the peace and seclusion of the old order, together with the improvements of the present day.”
The 9-room, 2-bath (!) house featured old-fashioned fireplaces. However, it was also “equipped with electricity.”
The property included a large barn, old smokehouse and trout stream. Plus, of course, 49 acres of woodland and open fields.
All yours, for just $27,500.
Much has changed in the past 96 years. For example, Westport is now further from Grand Central than 75 minutes.
A second ad, also from “Country Life,” highlighted a “Charming Island Estate in the exclusive residence colony at Green’s Farms, Connecticut.”
The 35-acre waterfront property boasted 2 houses, “large stone garage with housekeeping apartments for chauffeur and gardener,” a stable, large poultry plant, piggery, well-stocked aviary, greenhouse and boathouse; beautiful sunken garden, extensive vegetable garden, and broad, sweeping lawns, meadows and wooded land.
The main house, with 6 mater bedrooms, had 4 servants’ rooms (in a separate wing). The smaller included 3 master sleeping rooms, plus double maids’ rooms.
The clincher: “Owner wiling to divide if required.’
If Westport has too much of anything — besides people who don’t think the rules of the road apply to them — it’s rules of the road.
Like stop signs.
Every few feet, we (are supposed to) stop. It’s the law.
But, as alert “06880” reader and longtime Greens Farms resident Mary Ann Meyer noticed, there’s at least one place in Westport where only one set of drivers stops. Cross traffic breezes by.
Her photo (click here to see) was last week’s Photo Challenge. It shows the Hillandale/West Parish Road intersection, just west of Greens Farms Congregational Church.
Beth Handa, Mary Maynard, Tom Lowrie, Eve Potts and Lawrence Zlatkin all nailed it.
But there were plenty of other guesses. The spectacularly confusing Weston Road/North Main Street/Weston Road/Easton Road intersection; Clinton Avenue (near Ford Road); Roseville Road (at both Whitney Road and Cross Highway), and Newtown Turnpike/Woodcock Lane were all possible candidates.
Be careful out there.
This week’s Photo Challenge was taken a couple of weeks ago. It may be hard to remember, but it did snow once or twice this winter. Westport was — briefly — a wonderland.
If you know where you would have seen this scene, click “Comments” below.
It’s filled with rolling hills, old homes, a small beach, a friendly train station and post office, and a stately elementary school.
That school sits on the northern edge of the neighborhood. It’s an area that residents feel is under siege.
Just across the Post Road, a 94-unit apartment building is quickly filling up. Twelve apartments have been constructed on the site of the former Geiger’s property, with 32 assisted living apartments being built next door.
The bank/office complex at the Post Road/North Morningside corner has just been sold. That too may be converted into apartments.
Now 19 townhouses have been proposed for 20-26 South Morningside — the Historic District directly opposite Greens Farms Elementary School.
Green’s Farms United created this map to show recent and planned housing developments near Greens Farms School.
A group called Green’s Farms United has had enough.
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:
HINT: Like last week’s Photo Challenge, this too was not taken in a cemetery.
Your “feel-good” story about Minute Men Cleaner’s return of money contrasted with the not-so-feel-good story of an attempted break in at my residence last Friday — which apparently is not an isolated incident. I share with you the story, hoping that readers will be careful to observe any suspicious activity and contact the police with any information.
Last Friday early afternoon, I left my house for 2 hours, then returned to Greens Farms. All seemed normal.
I let my dog out, and noticed wood on the ground. Then I saw fresh wood on the door molding. My first inclination was that an animal did this.
I quickly realized though that someone (or a group of people) had tried breaking into our house while I was gone. I called the police. When they came, they said a number of other houses were hit around the same time.
They took photos, info, etc., and mentioned we were lucky to have a deadbolt on our door. They said the crow bar that was apparently used was no match for the deadbolt.
A deadbolt helped deter the burglars. Here’s what the door frame looked like afterward.
Hopefully our dog also started to bark. We do have a house alarm. It was activated but not triggered, since the intruders failed to enter.
This whole experience is very unsettling. My family has lived in 3 houses in Westport for 6 years. I have been married for almost 20 years, and have never had anyone attempt to break in to any of our homes.
We know we are fortunate not to deal with a break-in during the middle of the night, or even during the day. However, this left us feeling very violated and frustrated.
Needless to say, my children were surprised to see police when they got home from elementary school. I explained what happened. My son was more excited than scared, and couldn’t wait to bring this to “share” come Monday.
My 7 year old reacted very differently. She said, “I feel sick and scared.” I did everything to reassure her she is safe, and that the police will work on capturing the criminals.
When I told friends in the area what had happened, a woman told this story:
One morning last week, 2 youths rang my doorbell. I thought they were selling magazines. My dog was going crazy, so I didn’t open it wide or talk long.
They said they were looking for an address. I tried to help, but they hustled off. For some reason it felt ‘off’ to me all weekend. It was weird that they didn’t say ‘thanks,’ and one of the guys was really smiley, like he knew he was being deceptive.
I closed the door and thought, which is unlike me, that these guys were casing the house, that I was grateful to have been home, and also to have my dog going crazy at them.
As I finished typing this, I just found out that a number of police cars were out in my neighborhood today, near the Post Road. Was it another attempted break-in?
Sad that we have to say and do this — but please be alert and lock your doors. Set your alarms if you have them. Please call the police if you see anything. Hopefully whoever is doing this will be caught.
P.S. A shout-out to local company Jake the Locksmith. They came to our house the same day to see if the integrity of the door was compromised. Great service!
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