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Tag Archives: Schlaet’s Point
Alert “06880” photographer Betsy Kahn captured these beautiful colors (and a stray dog) this morning at Schlaet’s Point, near Compo Beach.
With hints of spring in the air, it’s great to know that Daylight Savings Time starts this Sunday.
The only downside is that gorgeous sunrises like this will happen one hour later.
From time to time — most recently in a story about rock formations on local shorelines — I’ve mentioned “Schlaet’s Point.” That’s the strip of land between the end of Soundview Drive (north end of Compo Beach), and the only house on the water side of Hillspoint between Compo and Old Mill Beach (big stone wall; yardarm with the US, Connecticut and Texas [!] state flags).
But I’ve never asked myself: Who was Schlaet? And no one ever asked me, either.
Peter Barlow knows.
The 1947 Staples grad — and lifelong Westporter, until decamping to Pawcatuck in 2005 — emailed info about the long-forgotten man.
And his land.
Peter recalls a stone gazebo located at the end of a long concrete pier, extending from a Japanese-style boathouse.
The gazebo was knocked off its base by the hurricane of 1938, and remained tilted for 30 years or more.
One day in his teens, during low tide, Peter waded from Compo Beach. Using a $3 camera, he took what he calls “possibly the only close-up photos of this ‘landmark’ that exists.”
Peter says the boathouse and pier were part of an estate on the other side of Hillspoint Road. It was enormous, including most of the land from Compo Hill Road at Elvira’s to Minute Man Hill off South Compo.
A mansion — with red-orange tiled roof — and elaborate gardens perched high on the hill. A smaller structure, with a similar roof, is still visible from Hillspoint. It was a guest house, or servants’ quarters.
In 1917, the entire property was assessed at just under $148,000. The owner was Arnold Schlaet (rhymes with “slate”), an investor and co-founder of Texaco in 1902.
Woody Klein’s history book about Westport notes that in 1918 Schlaet donated his 65-foot yacht to the US government, for the war effort. But, Peter says, there is no other information about him. Wikipedia — which includes entries on anyone who has ever lived — has just about zilch.
Perhaps, Peter says, an “06880” reader knows more about Arnold Schlaet. If so, click “Comments” below.
Perhaps, Peter adds, “if he had paid for a school or library, or something, his name would be remembered for more than just a point at the north end of Compo Beach.”
Peter Jones posted a fascinating photo on Facebook today (and David Pogue provided some touch-up magic to it):
It shows the corner of Compo Hill Road and Hillspoint, during Hurricane Carol in 1954.
What is today Positano’s was then called Joe’s Store.
Peter wrote: “Notice the waves hitting Old Mill Beach. After Hillspoint Road was washed out, the town rebuilt and enlarged the jetty at Schlaet’s Point and reinforced the embankment at Hillspoint Road with HUGE boulders, creating sort of a Stonehenge effect.”
Darlene Bora added: “My mom always told me the pillars had been cut down at the bottom of Compo Hill Road (she grew up on Sterling Drive). I never saw them before today.”
Joe’s Store was there in 1954. Cafe de la Plage was there in 1984. Positano’s is there in 2014.
Now though, there’s no telling what that corner will look like — in good weather, and bad — in 2015.
A couple of weeks ago, Compo looked much as it did right after Hurricane Sandy.
By today — Memorial Day, the 1st gorgeous day of the beach season — virtually all the damage had been cleaned up.
Sure, it looks a bit different. The brick wall near the bathhouses is gone:
But the boardwalk has been repaired, and the patio near Joey’s looks just as enticing as ever:
The ever-popular sidewalk between Schlaet’s Point and Old Mill is ready for walkers, joggers, strollers and rollerbladers — with plenty of new stones:
Of course, if you look carefully you’ll see lingering after-effects. The enormous, how-did-they-ever-get-it-there? potted tree on the walkway to Compo Cove has looked like this since October:
And many homes still look like this:
Still, considering what the beach area looked like just 7 months ago, we weathered the storm very, very well.
Okay. I’m not crazy.
A couple of months ago, I took my 1st walk of the season from the beach to Elvira’s. On Hillspoint Road — from Schlaet’s Point almost to the big house with the US, Connecticut and Texas flags — I noticed a dozen or so oddly shaped rock slabs. They stuck up, vertically, from all the others.
I wondered if they were new. Nah, I said to myself. Can’t be. They look like they’ve been there forever. I can’t believe I never saw them before.
Besides, I continued (to myself), if someone just put them there, someone else would have mentioned it.
I hadn’t heard anything, from anyone.
And I never did
Until this week.
Alert “06880” reader Tom Feeley emailed:
Who made the decision to install the “Stonehenge pillars” along Hillspoint? Were there too many cars catapulting over the edge into the Sound?
Aha! I was right!
Someone did sneak them in.
The questions are:
- Who did it?
- Why did they do it?
- Why hasn’t anyone said anything yet?
If you’ve got a clue (or even if you don’t), click “Comments.”
There are 2 people Westporters always wonder about.
Who was “Staples,” they ask.*
And, equally importantly, who is “Fiona”?
For several years a sign — “Fiona’s Disappearing Island” — stood at the corner of Soundview Drive and Hillspoint Road. An “island” indeed appears and disappears near the Schlaet’s Point jetty, changing with the tide, but no one knew where the sign came from, or who named the spot.
Then the sign disappeared.
Now it’s back — as sea-like and jangly as ever.
No one still knows who Fiona is — though, I’m told, an inscription on the back of the new sign refers to “a gypsy who loved the sea.” (It’s pretty high up — presumably to thwart thieves. Yao Ming would find it hard to read the back.)
Meanwhile, here’s a closeup of the front:
How’d I get it?
Let’s just say “Fiona works in mysterious ways.”
(* Horace Staples — a very wealthy banker/businessman/merchant/farmer — founded Westport’s high school in 1884, age 80. He’s a fascinating man. But if you’d read my book on the history of Staples High School, you’d know all that.)
I still can’t believe I didn’t see the (very discreet) “Private Property” sign when I took this photo of “Westport’s Newest Park” for Sunday’s blog:
But as many commenters noted – and Betsy Phillips’ photo below shows — it is indeed the property of the Bluewater Hill Association.
I still cling to the belief that the sign was not there — perhaps it was attending Easter services?
It’s nice to know too that the homeowners across the street personally fixed the crumbling seawall after Hurricane Irene, and replanted all those beautiful flowers. All for the enjoyment of everyone who walks, jogs, races, bicycles, skateboards, motorcycles or drives by.
Meanwhile, just a few yards north on Hillspoint, there’s this:
Several beach lovers — some living nearby, others not — are upset at the new, high, view-obstructing hedge erected by homeowners whose deeds include the private beachfront on the opposite side of the road.
No one denies anyone the right to do with their property as they wish. We’re just sayin’…