Tag Archives: Historic District Commission

15 Belden Place: Little Red House Saved!

In early December, “06880” broke the story about the proposed demolition of #7 and #15 Belden Place — the tiny, seldom-noticed piece of Main Street property just past Avery Place, opposite Veterans Green and Town Hall.

Not many people cared about the 1st building. But boy, did they howl about the 2nd.

#15 is listed in the Westport Historic District Commission inventory. It sits on the bank of the Saugatuck River (with quite a view!). Readers flooded the comments section of that story — and one with 3 other photos — decrying the proposal.

15 Belden Place (Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

15 Belden Place (Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)

We haven’t heard much about Belden Place since then. But today alert “06880” reader — and preservation activist — Morley Boyd writes:

Here’s a testament to the 06880 community and its passion for all things Westport.

At a Historic District Commission hearing Tuesday night — just in time for Valentine’s Day — representatives for the new owner of the iconic red house by the Saugatuck River revealed plans to fully restore the beloved local landmark.

“06880” readers were quite vocal when plans to demolish the iconic early 20th century dwelling surfaced late last year. Westporter Peter Nisenson — the property’s contract purchaser, and principal of Westport-based PEN Building Company — took those concerns to heart. He said, “We heard the public and we took  its advice. In many ways this is now a much more interesting project.”

A 2000 view of 15 Belden Place, taken from Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Andrea Fine)

A 2000 view of 15 Belden Place, taken from Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Andrea Fine)

On the same property, as part of its plan for retail and residential development, PEN intends to also save the large antique building that fronts Main Street which once housed Nappa Sales.

PEN officials noted the uniquely picturesque setting of 15 Belden Place, a building they refer to even on their official site plan as “The Red House.” Provided they can secure the needed zoning variances, the modest structure will remain in its original setting — though slightly raised to prevent further flood damage.

PEN intends to then make repairs as needed to return the house to residential use — but with an eye to preserving its vintage appearance. While the windows will be replaced in kind, the location of the original openings will be kept as they were.

Although the structure will also receive new systems, one thing about Westport’s most famous little house that Pen representatives will  not change: the color.

Robert Storm, the project’s architect, stated: “We peeled off a chip of the red paint. We’re going to match it.”

15 Belden Place, as seen from the parking lot off Main Street.

15 Belden Place, as seen from the parking lot off Main Street.

2 Quick Days, 2 Big Meetings

Whatever your passion — the beach, historic preservation or downtown — Westport’s got a meeting for you.

Today at 5:30 p.m., the Compo Beach Site Improvement Committee meets at Town Hall (Room 201). Based on the 79 comments (and counting) to Mike Calise’s plea to retain perimeter parking near the sand — and 0 in favor — it should be interesting.

Tomorrow (7 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Planning and Zoning Commission will hear presentations from 2 committees: Village District and Downtown Steering.

It’s a work session, meaning the public can observe but not participate. Here’s what observers will see:

The Village District Committee, chaired by Historic District Commission chair Randy Henkels, will present information from their consulting group, headed by Steven Cecil from Boston.

Finding the right balance between old and new: an eternal downtown question. (Photo/Craig Schwartz)

Finding the right balance between old and new: an eternal downtown question. (Photo/Craig Schwartz)

The presentation will describe exactly what a Village District offers Westport, in terms of preservation of buildings and historic character. It’s part of a state-funded project to promote preservation in Connecticut; reports can be utilized by a town and its land-use agencies.

Tomorrow’s report may describe regulations and restrictions that have been successfully implemented in other Connecticut towns (including being upheld against court challenges.)

The Downtown Steering Committee — chaired by Dewey Loselle — has asked its consulting group, RBA, to to present Phase 1 of its project. It’s a baseline traffic study of the extended downtown area.

The study will include a computer-animated vision of traffic patterns, which can serve as a tool to evaluate the impact of traffic on forthcoming land-use proposals.

Some of the most infamous Post Road intersections have been studied, including Wilton Road and Riverside Avenue, and Compo Roads North and South.

Charming, no?

Charming, no?

Phase 2 — the vision of downtown, regarding traffic flow, parking, greening of the riverfront, the size and mix of commercial buildings, and residences — will be touched upon tomorrow too.

The train has not yet left the station, regarding Compo, historic preservation or downtown.

But it has pulled in. If you’re a Westporter who cares about this town, get on board.

 

 

 

 

20 Maplewood Avenue: The Sequel

Maplewood Avenue is a great neighborhood, filled with older homes. Residents love the streetscape, and work hard to protect it.

In 1996, Bill Dohme — a restoration builder — and his wife wanted to expand their home, at 20 Maplewood Avenue. They drew up plans that kept the body — and historical integrity — of the house intact. But other expenses put the remodeling on hold.

20 Maplewood Avenue

20 Maplewood Avenue last year…

Right after Memorial Day last year, the Dohmes sold their house. Knowing that teardowns are rampant all over Westport, they made the remodeling plans available to the new owner.

In February — hearing that 20 Maplewood would be torn down — Bill gave the plans to the Historic District Commission. He hoped they’d meet with the new owner, and urge him to reconsider.

It did not happen. On Tuesday, the bulldozers moved in.

Yesterday, they were done.

...and today.

…and today.

Knock ‘Em Down! (Update Added)

I apologize for posting this so late. It’s been a busy day.

The wooden house next to Terrain -- in its Curran Cadillac days, before it was spruced up.

The wooden house next to Terrain — in its Curran Cadillac days, before it was spruced up.

But not as busy as the Historic District Commission’s night will be.

Meeting at 7 this evening (Town Hall, Room 201), they’ll comment on an application from Terrain to demolish the 19th century wooden building at the corner of Crescent Road (opposite the firehouse), and replace it with 9 parking spots.

UPDATE: Apparently the request by Terrain has been withdrawn. Tonight is their 1-year anniversary dinner. Maybe it’s bad form to have a private dinner with New York media on the same night as a teardown request?

But that’s just a warm-up okay. The agenda also includes:

  • To take such action as the meeting may determine to reconsider waiving the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 44 Spicer Road
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 60 West Parish Road.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 12 Harding Lane. 
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 6 Rebel Road.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 46 Partrick Road.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application for the house and garage at 8 Compo Hill Avenue c. 1920 identified on the Historic Resources Inventory.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 35 Church Lane, identified on the Historic Resources Inventory as the Kemper-Gunn House c. 1890.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 121 Imperial Avenue.
  •  To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 28 Turkey Hill Road South.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 6 Harbor Road
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 37 Evergreen Parkway, identified on the Historic Resources Inventory c. 1915.
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 4 Jackie Lane
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at One Lantern Hill Road
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 7 Grist Mill Lane. 
  • To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 15 Appletree Trail. 
  •  To take such action … to waive the balance of the delay period for a demolition permit application at 28 Maple Avenue

That’s a lot of work. Afterward, they might want to go out for a beer to relax.

I suggest the Spotted Horse. It’s a nice old building, with lots of ambiance.

Spotted Horse, Westport CT