Tag Archives: Jill Turner Odice

This Old House: Identified!

The whole point of “06880”‘s “This Old House” series is to help the Westport Historical Society in advance of an upcoming exhibit. They’ll be showing great photos of old homes, to illustrate changes in Westport. 

But some images — taken as part of a 1930s WPA project — are hard to identify.

House #4 — posted 10 days ago — has been confirmed. It’s the handsome home of Birchwood Country Club, visible from Kings Highway South. The back of the photo said “Allen (Bailin). Riverside Avenue.”

This Old House - March 25, 2015

WHS house historian Bob Weingarten explains the delay in confirmation:

I need to apologize to your readers, especially Marc Isaacs; Jill Turner Odice, who agreed with Marc, and Neil Brickley, who wrote that Marc was correct and  I should re-consider this location.

When I first read Marc’s comments [he said it was originally the Josiah Raymond Inn. and was moved to its present location prior to the 1930’s], I reviewed the Connecticut Historic Resources Inventory. It said the house was built in 1835 by Josiah Raymond. The form identified the location as 25 Kings Highway South, also known as The Birchwood Country Club “Clubhouse.”

The Birchwood Country Club House today.

The Birchwood Country Club House today.

I discounted this as the house for 2 reasons. First, on the back of the WPA 1930s photo the words “Riverside Avenue” appeared and there was no indication from the history that the house was moved.

Second, the photo I had on file was of the front of the house. Although the WPA 1930s photo does show the front, this architectural design was prevalent in houses of the Federal period in Westport.  My mistake was not having a visual view of the side of the building.

After hearing from Neil, I visited the site. With an appropriate photo angle I can visually confirm that the Unknown House #4 is the Birchwood Country Club “Clubhouse.”

Looking at the photo you can see that the front porch does have sidelight windows, the side portion of the building has the same structural elements and windows as identified on the WPA 1930s photo. Too many  elements to be a duplicate built house.

Thanks again to Marc Isaacs, Jill Turner Odice and Neil Brickley.

Westport’s Muddy Waters

The Blues, Views & BBQ Fest earlier this month was fantastic. Yet I am sure I am not the only Westporter to wonder, “WTF?”

Westport is many things. But “Blues City USA” is not one of them.

Then again…

Jeff Van Gelder — a native Westporter now living in Germany — reminds us of an intriguing moment in town history.

Muddy Waters Hard AgainOn Facebook, he writes: “The last great trio of Muddy Waters albums — ‘Hard Again,’ ‘I’m Ready’ and the somewhat-less-than-stellar ‘King Bee’ — were recorded in Westport.”

It turns out, Jeff says, that the late Dan Hartman — who wrote and recorded “Relight My Fire,” and worked with Edgar Winter — bought a house in Westport, and set up a studio there.

Jeff says:

After Muddy got out of his contract with Chess Records, his #1 fan, Johnny Winter, signed him to his Blue Sky Label. They recorded these wonderful LPs (in Westport) over a period of 2 years. Two years before, Johnny had recorded his “Nothing But The Blues” with members of Muddy, Pinetop Perkins and James Cotton at the Hartman house (called “the Schoolhouse”).

Blues and Music News  explains that Muddy and Johnny wanted to record “Hard Again” live, with Winter handling production and also playing.

If the band was composed of competent musicians, then they could make the Blues come across alive and fresh. And make no mistake; the band backing up Muddy Waters for this recording was far beyond competent. They lived their lives for this man and his music!

(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube.)

Jill Turner Odice adds a bit more on this little-known piece of Westport music history:

I lived next door to Dan when he rented the Reynolds house (6 Edgehill Lane) for $2500 a month…. I got to meet Johnny and Edgar Winter, Rick Derringer and .38 Special while they were recording there. Patti LaBelle, Foghat, James Brown, Peter Frampton as well as others made recordings there.

Just as fascinating as the fact that some great blues were recorded in Westport is the look of the house where it all happened.

"The Schoolhouse" -- 6 Edgehill Lane.

“The Schoolhouse” — 6 Edgehill Lane, off Wilton Road.

Chicago or Memphis, it sure ain’t.