Tag Archives: Kathleen Laycock School

Photo Challenge #211

Our 1st-ever “4-fer” Photo Challenge showed a quartet of ads. All were shot in the 1950s and ’60s by photographer Bill Bell — longtime Westporter Bobbi Liepolt’s father — for the Dunbar furniture campaign. (Click here to see.)

The photos showed, in order:

  • Kathleen Laycock School on Beachside Avenue (now Greens Farms Academy)
  • Fairfield County Hunt Club
  • Nyala Farm, off Greens Farms Road
  • The Stony Point home of Leopold Godowsky (a concert violinist who helped develop Kodacolor and Ektachrome) and his wife, Frankie Gershwin (George and Ira’s younger sister, and a noted painter).

The first 3 sites are all still in Westport, in more or less the same condition (despite, in Nyala Farms’ case, the construction of a massive office building for Stauffer Chemicals’ world headquarters).

The Godowsky home was torn down in 2009, to make way for a larger, more modern home.

No one got all 4 right. The school was the easiest; Andrew Colabella, Dana Brownell, Barbara Sherburne, Rick Leonard and Bob Grant all quickly identified the iconic, Ivy League-looking main building.

The Hunt Club seemed to be the second easiest. Fred Cantor and Rick Leonard got that one.

It took a while to identify Nyala Farm and Stony Point — but Evan Stein got ’em both. Congrats to all!

This week, we “welcome” old and new readers with this Photo Challenge:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

If you know where in Westport you’d see this, click “Comments” below.

A Blow Dry Bar At Greens Farms Academy?

September Sirico has opened her 2nd Blow Dry Bar. It’s downtown, on Church Lane near Sconset Square.

Ordinarily, the opening of a blowout “bar” — also offering braiding, airbrush spray tanning, threading, lash/brow tinting and more! — would not rise to the level of “06880”-worthiness.

But, September says, her new salon bar has an interesting history. It’s on the site of the original Greens Farms Academy.

Who knew?

The exclusive private school began as “Mrs. Bolton’s School for Girls,” in 1925. The “English lady of education and culture” took as her model “the best English schools.”

Mary E.E. Bolton leased room for her school — and living space for herself and her 2 daughters — in a 3-story frame house across from Christ & Holy Trinity Church.

Yes, this is the original home of Greens Farms Academy.

Yes, this is the original home of Greens Farms Academy.

The  school began with 4 students. But by spring of 1926 there were 18 girls — all 7 years old or younger — and the Church Lane space was already too small.

Mrs. Bolton (and her sister, Kathleen Laycock) moved to a large Greek Revival house on the corner of West State Street (Post Road West) and Ludlow Road, then to the northeast corner of King’s Highway and Wilton Road (present location of the Willows Medical Center). For the next 30 years Mrs. Bolton, Miss Laycock and their small faculty tutored young ladies in a large Victorian farmhouse and 3 out-buildings there.

By the mid-1950s, though, the old house, barn, and sheds were fire traps. Mrs. Bolton’s lease was nearing an end, and the owner of the property wanted to sell. A group of concerned parents and friends of the School, including Lucie Bedford Cunningham, approached the sisters with the idea of incorporating The Bolton School as a not-for-profit, which could raise money to build or buy new facilities. Mrs. Bolton declined, preferring to retain ownership of her nursery school and lower school, but Miss Laycock, headmistress of the Upper School, agreed.

Long story short: In 1956 the Kathleen Laycock Country Day School opened in the dilapidated house. After a search, the Bedford/Vanderbilt family sold 26 acres of property on Beachside Avenue — for $250,000.

In 1959, Kathleen Laycock School moved in. The next year, Mrs. Bolton’s younger school followed.

One of the Bedford/Vanderbilt homes is now part of Greens Farms Academy.

One of the Bedford/Vanderbilt homes is now part of Greens Farms Academy.

Both prospered. But by the end of the 1960s, single-sex schools were under siege. In 1969, after a year of study and deliberation, the trustees voted to admit males.

Knowing the difficulty of attracting boys to “Kathleen Laycock Country Day,” the trustees renamed the school. In September 1970, 23 young men joined 300 young women at Greens Farms Academy.

The rest is history.

Except for this fun fact, which brings us back to September Sirico and Blow Dry Westport.

September Sirico

September Sirico

When September was ready to begin 1st grade in Westport, her parents applied to GFA. She was not accepted.

Her family was told she was “too social.” The fit with the other children wouldn’t be right.

Thirty years later, September finally feels like she been “accepted to Greens Farms Academy.”

She plans quite the blowout to celebrate.