Tag Archives: Saugatuck Avenue

Question Box #8

Our Question Box is once again full.

Unfortunately, I have almost none of the answers. I thought I knew a lot about Westport. Now I see how clueless I am.

So readers: Please chime in with any additional information. Click “Comments” below.

If you’ve got a question for our box, email 06880blog@gmail.com.

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I’m curious why there is a staircase leading down to the Saugatuck River, at the Riverwalk near the Library. Did people used to swim (or bathe?) in it? (Tracy Porosoff)

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)

I don’t know, Tracy. I’ve often wondered, though.

And I’ve wondered when was the last time anyone used it.

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There are 2 ancient-looking doors on the west side of Saugatuck Avenue, just north of the railway overpass. They’re unmarked, and wouldn’t make any sense to have there with the traffic whizzing by. One is on the 2nd floor, so they probably pre-date the road there. Any idea what they were for? (Marc Frankel)

No. But I’m sure some longtime Saugatuck residents do. And — to be honest — I’ve never noticed them. The next time I’m stuck in traffic there, I’ll look.

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The photo above brings up my own question: Why do so many drivers not believe the 10′ 11″ warning sign on the Saugatuck Avenue bridge? 

If I drove a truck for a living — or rented a U-Haul, and was responsible for damages — I like to think I’d be a bit more aware than all of those ding-dongs who suddenly come to a screeching, roof-less halt.

And a related query: Why are there so many fewer accidents on the similarly low railroad bridge on South Compo? Does it have something to do with coming off I-95 onto Saugatuck Avenue, and still being in highway mode? Are there not enough warning signs? We may not be able to solve many world problems, but this one seems like it could be fixed.

Or at least cut down to, say, only one accident a month.

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Hooper Road is off Bayberry Lane. It is actually just a driveway with 2 houses at the end: #3 and #4. Where are #1 and #2? And who was Hooper? 

I have no idea. But it sure looks like a nice, quiet, leafy neighborhood.

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My Alvord children and I have just learned there is an Alvord Beach here. Where is it? For which ancestor is it named? And can we claim ownership? We’ve always wanted a private beach. (Lynn Flaster [Alvord] Paul

I know the answer!

Well, part of it, anyway.

Alvord Beach is the official name of the sandy area at Sherwood Island State Park.

I have no idea which Alvord it’s named for, unfortunately. But for the very interesting back story of Connecticut’s first state park, click here.

Alvord Beach, at Sherwood Island State Park.

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I’d like to know about the Lees family — early Westport industrialists.

They have a big cemetery plot at Willowbrook, with gravestones goin back centuries, plus an extension with more recent family members buried across the way.

The grandmother’s beautiful Italianate Victorian house set back on Main Street was in disrepair for many years, but looks well kept up now. Amazing to think that property goes all the way back. (Jeanne Reed)

“06880” has written several times about the Lees family, with great input from Mary Palmieri Gai Jack Whittle. Here are some excerpts:

Lees Pond, Lees Dam and Lees Lane, all in the Richmondville area, are part of the Lees family.

Lees Dam (Photo/Scott Smith)

Lees Manufacturing Company – they ran the cotton twine mill on Richmondville Avenur – was founded in 1814 by John Lees, who was born in 1787 in England, and perhaps a brother Thomas Lees was also a founder. John Lees was married to Martha (b. 1793). They are shown living in Westport in the 1850 US census, with their two youngest sons, George and Henry.

Edward M. Lees (Courtesy of Dale Call)

Edward M. Lees (born c. 1832) appeared in both the 1860 and 1870 US censuses with his wife Caroline. In the 1860 census Edward’s occupation was “blacksmith,” while in the 1870 census it was “law student.” Edward was appointed postmaster for Westport on April 7, 1867. He died in 1909, and is buried alongside his wife in Willowbrook cemetery.

Edward Lees also fought in the Civil War. He joined Fairfield’s 17th regiment too, ending the war as a 2nd lieutenant in Company K. He was wounded at Gettysburg, and captured at the Battle of Chancellorsville.

As far as precise Main Street Westport addresses of the Lees are concerned,  Robert Lees (b. 1855) and his wife Lucy lived “on Main street near Myrtle Ave” in Westport in the 1919 Westport City Directory. Robert’s occupation was listed as “cotton twine manufacturing.”

Robert died around 1919 but Lucy continued to live in Westport, with her address listed as “171 Main St.” beginning with the 1925 Westport City Directory and continuing through the 1933 directory (when Lucy was 83 or so; she may have died soon thereafter). (NOTE: Street numbers may have been renumbered at some point.)

Meanwhile, beginning with the 1910 census John A. Lees (b. 1875) and his wife Margaret Sniffen Lees lived next door at 169 Main Street, along with their son John A. Lees Jr. (b. 1905). According to the 1917 City directory John A Lees Sr. was the president of Lees Manufacturing, and Charles Sniffen (his wife’s father? brother?) was shown as the manager. Sniffen Lane was developed much later, near Richmondville Avenue.

The Mill on Richmondville Avenue is now being converted into luxury housing.

John A. Lees Sr. and Margaret moved into Lucy Lees’ house after she died, because they are shown living at 171 Main St. in the 1940 census. At that point John A. Lees Jr. was married (Jane) and from 1931 – 1939 living at 193 Main Street.

John A. Lees Jr. (who also ran the company) and Jane eventually moved to Turkey Hill Road South in the 1950s. John A. Lees Jr. died on April 24, 1966.

The old Lees House at 257 Main State was (finally) restored by the owner. The last Lees in Westport — a woman who never married — lived there until she was in her 90s.

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Pics Of The Day #1205 (Isaias Edition)

Richmondville Avenue (Photo/Arlene Yolles)

Saugatuck Avenue #1 …

… Saugatuck Avenue #2 …

… and Saugatuck Avenue #3 (Photos/Scott Singer)

Hales Road (Patricia McMahon)

One view of Prospect and Hillandale …

… and another (Photos/Samuel Wang)

Grove Point Road, where …

… everyone beyond #17 is stuck (Photos/John Kantor)

Meanwhile, at Compo Beach … (Photo/Jay Walshon)

And — with the power out — some emergency supplies (Photo/Matt Murray)

NOTE: The Westport Library will be closed tomorrow.

Pic Of The Day #589

The Connecticut Department of Transportation is currently examining options for the rehabilitation or replacement of the William F. Cribari Bridge, over the Saugatuck River in Westport.

If they are paying the same attention to detail there as when they proofread their road signs, we’re in big trouble.

The Fallen Heroes (NOT “Heros”) Memorial Highway runs from the intersection of Route 136 and Route 33 through Wilton to the Ridgefield town line. This photo was taken on Saugatuck Avenue, just north of the I-95 Exit 17 interchange. (Photo/Jeff Wieser)

Pic Of The Day #478

Christy, pick up your damn towel already! This sign has been there on Saugatuck Avenue for a month! (Photo/Gene Borio)

Sunset Drama On Sunrise

Sunrise Road was not made for 18-wheelers.

The driver of a truck filled with 43,000 pounds of refrigerated meat — bound from Minnesota to West Haven — learned that out the hard way last night at 7.

He tried to make a right turn onto Saugatuck Avenue — no easy feat even for Mini Coopers. Soon, he was hung up on a stone wall.

Alert “06880” reader Gerald F. Romano Jr. was on the scene. For the next 2 1/2 hours, he says, Westport police and firefighters did a great job. A crew from Quality Towing unloaded 10,000 pounds of meat off the truck.

That lightened the load, so the Quality guys could pull the rear wheels off the wall. No one one was injured. The driver — who said this was his first incident in 40 years — drove off.

(All photos Gerald F. Romano Jr.)

“It all ended well,” Romano says.

But just imagine if the driver had headed for the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Firefighters Come Through

A dramatic house fire shut down Saugatuck Avenue today, near Saugatuck Shores.

“06880” reader Michelle Benner reports that Westport, Norwalk, Weston, Fairfield and Stamford fire departments — and chiefs — were all there.

The fire burned for over an hour and a half. An hour in, the owners had a fireman pull a vintage red sports car out of the garage.

The Saugatuck Avenue fire today. (Photo/Westport Fire Department)

Stamford’s department arrived with a special truck to refill oxygen tanks.

Eversource came 45 minutes in to cut the line from the utility pole. It took a while because they couldn’t drive  the truck over the hose connected to the hydrant (which was fortunately right across the street from the burning house). The line had to cut it by hand with a long pole, instead of using the cherry picker.

Firefighters brought hoses into the house, and fought the fire from inside. Water shot up out of the roof, as flames and black/brown smoke continued to pour out.

“It was heartbreaking to see,” Michelle says. “Thankfully, it appears no one got hurt.”

“But it was heartwarming to see the firefighters working together, the other towns coming in to help, and how protective the chiefs were of their men.

“The guys who climb out on the ladder to fight the fire from above are especially brave!”

The fire burned for nearly 2 hours. (Photo/Michelle Benner)

NIMBY Or Not?

An email — asking recipients to circulate a petition opposing the proposed Tesla service center and/or dealership on Saugatuck Avenue — is making its way around town.

Click here for background info, provided in the email’s link to a website called SaveSaugatuck.org.

20 Saugatuck Avenue — site of the proposed Tesla facility.

The email itself says:

If you don’t live in Saugatuck, you may not have heard – but Tesla has proposed to open a dealership/service center/charging station in the vacant space at 20 Saugatuck Ave – they are looking to change zoning to do so.

Reaching out to see if you’d be willing to sign and help gather some signatures from your neighbors/friends for a petition to help prevent Tesla from changing the zoning in a way that would allow them to open a dealership right in the middle of the neighborhood. The zoning board votes on the proposal May 18th – so we need as many signatures by then as possible.

Wouldn’t want to presume we all feel the same way about this but think it would be bad for the neighborhood to have a busy dealership creating traffic on Saugatuck Avenue, an already congested area. There is also concern around cars being test-driven on local streets like Sunrise and Treadwell, as we love how walkable the neighborhood is and feel like it’ll be a safety concern having people driving cars they’re unfamiliar with on our streets–especially ones that go from 0 to 60 in 3 seconds.

We’d love to have a Tesla dealership in town, just up on the Post Rd where the other dealers are, just not in Saugatuck.

Without taking a position one way or the other on Tesla’s Saugatuck proposal, here’s my question:

What do residents of Greens Farms — where potential Maserati owners test drive those vehicles, often going 0 to 60 in 3 seconds — think?

Taking a Maserati out for a test drive.