Tag Archives: Sconset Square

Honoring Noel duPont At Sconset Square Stroll

In 1955, Francois duPont opened a jewelry store. Twenty years later, he took it to Main Street.

In 1980, Francois’ son Noel took over the business. It was one of Westport’s go-to places for beautiful items, handsome watches, and of course that quick replacement watch strap or battery.

Noel duPont

A few years ago, Noel moved around the corner to Sconset Square. “He lit up the square with his smile, and his weekly visits to each shop to check in,” says neighbor Tracey Heinemann. He was a constant and beloved presence — always accompanied by his Yorkie-poo Ollie.

Two weeks ago, Noel duPont died suddenly at home. He was 59 years old.

The Staples High School graduate had attended Berklee College of Music. A gifted drummer, he was passionate about the music of his idol, Frank Zappa. He also loved skiing, swimming and hiking in Maine.

He leaves behind his wife of 20 years, Julia, and sons Maxwell and Lucas.

A celebration of Noel’s life is set for Saturday, January 5 (Tavern on Main, 1 to 4 p.m.).

As is sometimes the case, a business cannot survive the death of its owner. Julia is liquidating Francois duPont Jewelers. This weekend and next, all jewelry is 50% off.

It’s a bittersweet time for Noel’s fellow merchants in Sconset Square. They’re busy preparing for next Thursday’s Holiday Stroll. From 5 to 8 p.m. on December 6, the popular shopping center on Myrtle Avenue — nestled between the Post Road, Christ & Holy Trinity and Church Lane — will be filled with holiday singers. The Little Red Waffle Truck will sell food. There are prizes too.

Each store has something special. Swoon offers festive English treats, and shows off seasonal floral deocrations. Bungalow serves aperitifs, along with tarot card readings. Bespoke Designs features champagne and savory snacks. Kerry Rosenthal has festive nibbles and toddies. Roots Salon gives discounts on artwork, and a chance to win a free service.

At Le Penguin there’s happy hour prices, complimentary bar bites, and singer Antoine Blech.

Francois duPont Jewelers, in Sconset Square.

Of course, Francois duPont Jewelers will be open too — for one of its last days.

Amid all the merriment, his many friends will be thinking of the popular, ever-smiling, aptly named Noel duPont.

More Than Just A Bungalow

Mention “downtown shopping,” and Westporters think first of Main Street.

That’s long been our retail heart. But it’s not the only one.

For more than half a century, Sconset Square has sat happily — and with plenty of parking — just a few yards from Main Street. It’s attracted local merchants, with a variety of offerings. Its stores (and restaurants and services, like tailors) have loyal clienteles.

Sconset (which started life as Sherwood) Square is an often-overlooked, and quite successful — piece of Westport’s retail puzzle.

Wende Cohen

Wende Cohen is one of those long-time merchants. But she did not set out to be one.

More than 2 decades ago she moved here from New York City for the usual reasons: 2 kids, more room, beaches, golf, the schools and community.

Wende had worked in magazine ad sales, before turning to her next job of raising kids. But her mother-in-law was in the antiques business, and when Wende traveled with her on European buying trips, she was hooked.

More than 2 decades ago — while still in her 20s — she opened a store called Bungalow, in the former Brandman’s Paints in Sconset Square.

She loved being part of the small shopping center. There was a camera store, a travel agency and more. Through the shop she met people outside her “circle of mom friends”: decorators, summer people, empty nesters.

Wende’s first container sold out in months. She went back to Europe, and returned with more unique items.

Over the years, Bungalow added gifts, jewelry, books and cashmere. It morphed into a “lifestyle store.” Wende expanded, and with the help of landlord David Waldman renovated her place.

Her merchandise is a mixture of old and new, with prices from $8 to $8,000. She works hard finding special pieces. She celebrates local artists, with pottery, photos and paintings.

And — as a small businesswoman — customer service is important.

Wende lets people take items home, and see how they fit or work.

In the store itself, she’s got a space in back where she’ll open a bottle of wine, or have an espresso. Le Penguin — a couple of doors away — sends over lunch on china.

She’s not immune to the winds of change sweeping retail — particularly the internet. So she’s making sure she does not sit still.

Recently, Bungalow renovated its space. It’s airier, more open. There are new high ceilings.

Sconset Square has been around for a while. So has Bungalow.

Both are success stories, in a Westport retail environment that needs some good news.

Pic Of The Day #537

Joyce Joiner’s 86-year-old mother is on the move (Photo/Joyce Joiner)

Photo Challenge #135

One mystery was solved with last week’s photo challenge: The image by Seth Schachter showed Dead Man’s (or is it Deadman’s?) Brook, as it runs through Sconset Square before disappearing underneath the Post Road on its way to Imperial Avenue. (Click here for the photo, plus all the correct — and incorrect — guesses.)

But another mystery remains:  Why the name? No one answered that question. If you’ve got a clue, feel free to comment here.

Vanessa Bradford, Rich Stein, Elaine Marino, Michael Brennecke, Don Chambers, Jill Turner Odice, Edward Bloch, Mary Cookman Schmerker and Seth Braunstein all knew exactly what the photo showed. Fred Cantor, Amy Ancel and John Terpening came close — but had the wrong side of the Post Road.

Here is this week’s challenge. If you know where in Westport it is, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

[UPDATE] Friday Flashback #36

Sconset Square is seldom in the news. But now — as the small Myrtle Avenue shopping center seems poised for redevelopment — Westporters suddenly see it with new eyes.

It’s been around a long time. Originally called Sherwood Square — a name with far more historical meaning here than the faux-Cape Cod “Sconset” — it included stores like the Paint Bucket, in this 1966 shot.

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

The view above is toward the west (Church Lane). As photographer Peter Barlow notes, it was an anchor store that sold many kinds of paint, decorating supplies and picture frames.

It also featured an art gallery — and that very cool “palette” sign.

In later years, these buildings became CamerArts. And wasn’t Carousel toys in there at one time too?


UPDATE: 12:25 p.m. After seeing today’s Friday Flashback, Seth Schachter sent along his own Paint Bucket photo. He’s told it’s from the 1950s, but wonders with the wild colors if it may be ’60s-vintage:

Sconset Square/Post Road Redevelopment: The Sequel

Sunday’s post described a new vision of downtown Westport.

It explained that David Waldman — the Westport-based developer who conceived of and completed Bedford Square — is under contract to buy both Sconset Square and 155 Post Road East. They’re contiguous properties: Sconset is the small shopping center off Myrtle Avenue with stores like Bungalow and Le Penguin restaurant, while 155 Post Road is the cement building across from Design Within Reach (the old post office).

(Though the Westport Pizzeria building may at some point be part of some deal in some way, don’t worry: It’s open, and will be for the foreseeable future.)

If Waldman buys #155 and Sconset Square, parking areas behind them could be utilized more efficiently. And #155 could potentially house organizations like the Westport Arts Center and Westport Cinema Initiative

155 Post Road East, across from Design Within Reach (the old post office).

That story generated a decent number of comments. But because Sunday was Easter — and the most beautiful day of the year — it may not have reached every “06880” reader.

And not everyone with an opinion might have responded.

A few town officials asked if I thought the comments posted — generally positive, some not — reflect the feeling of most Westporters.

I have no idea.

So here’s another opportunity to respond. Click “Comments” below.

This is far from the final word, of course. But on a matter like this, the more voices, the merrier.

Sconset Square. Redevelopment of the area could open the backs of the existing stores to shoppers too.

Bedford Square Is Complete. Another Intriguing Project May Come Next.

Since it opened 2 weeks ago, Bedford Square has become Westport’s newest destination. Folks flock there to shop, eat, and hang out in the courtyard.

David Waldman’s project — which took many years to conceive and sell to town boards, and another 2 years to construct — seems like the end of a long process.

But it may be only the beginning.

Numerous sources say that the Westport-based developer is under contract to buy both Sconset Square and 155 Post Road East. They’re contiguous properties: Sconset is the small shopping center off Myrtle Avenue with stores like Bungalow and Le Penguin restaurant, while 155 Post Road is the cement building across from Design Within Reach (the old post office). Eyeglasses.com is a current tenant; it used to house the Tack Room and Christian Science reading room.

155 Post Road East is a tired-looking building across from Design Within Reach (the old post office).

With Bedford Square, Waldman re-imagined the way we use Elm Street/Church Lane/Main Street. If he acquires those nearby properties — and, rumor has it, the Westport Pizzeria building too — he could redesign that section of downtown as well.

And tie it together with Bedford Square, which is much closer physically to Sconset Square than most of us now realize.

Sconset Square has been in Westport for years. Originally called Sherwood Square, it was the site of the original Sport Mart.

Word on the downtown street is that Waldman could reorient Sconset Square, opening up the backs of those stores to anyone using a redesigned walkway from the Post Road to Church Lane.

Removing the Westport Pizzeria building could create a pedestrian walkway to Church Lane — and enable merchants to utilize the backs of their stores, as well as the fronts.

He could also consolidate several of the parking lots on Church Lane — like the one behind SoNo Baking (soon to be Aux Delices) — making them more accessible and practical.

Right now there’s a hodgepodge of small parking areas off Church Lane, and behind Sconset Square. It’s tough to walk there from the Post Road.

Other rumors are flying, including the possibility of the Westport Arts Center and/or Westport Film Initiative moving into 155 Post Road East. That could give those organizations great visibility — and bring more people downtown.

The synergy between arts, retail, restaurants (and the new Bedford Square rental units) sounds exciting.

Of course, Bedford Square did not happen overnight.

It took many long nights of meetings.

Followed by 2 years of construction.

Westporters have so far voted with their feet. They’ve poured into Bedford Square.

There are sure to be many votes ahead for this next phase of downtown development.

Fitting A Lot Into A Bungalow

A few times a year, a 40-foot container pulls into Sconset Square.

It’s filled to the brim with European artifacts, antiques and goods.

Within a day, Bungalow — the very cool shop crammed full of furniture, home accessories, art, textiles, jewelry, books and gifts — is emptied.

All the new stuff comes in. Then everything is rearranged.

But it doesn’t happen in an instant. Here was the scene earlier today:

Bungalow

Good thing it didn’t rain.

24 Inches!

Two feet is really a lot of snow.

It’s gorgeous.  Compelling.  Breath-taking.

Compo Beach, as it's seldom seen.

It’s also a ton of snow to get rid of.

So far, our plow guys have done an amazing job.  Many roads are already cleared to the pavement.

The shoulders are another story — we’ll deal with that tomorrow.  In the meantime: THANKS to all who helped dig us out so far.

Rockwell Framing, framed by Sconset Square snow.

The traditional pile at the corner of Post Road and Main Street seems even more imposing than usual.

Private plows have not yet dug out the hair and nail salons on Church Lane at Myrtle Avenue. They're not the only ones.

Got a snow photo to share?  Send to:  dwoog@optonline.net.  Show us what you’ve got!

Sconset Art Stroll

Emerging artists — and Westporters hoping to discover the next wave of great artists — get a chance to meet this Thursday evening  (May 20).

Sconset Square shops will open their doors for an “Art Stroll.”  From 6-8 p.m., 66 works in a variety of media will be shown.   “Emerging artists” must never have had a solo show or gallery representation.

Refreshments will be offered from Mirabelle Cheese Shop’s traveling fromagerie.  Also:  “emerging specialty wines” from Country Liquor Store, music, and “a cozy fire pit” by Gault.

On Sunday (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.), art will be available at Sconset.  There will be demonstrations by professional artists, musical performances, works from the Toquet Hall student art competition — and a chance to respond to the question “What inspires you?”  (Answers will be tied to a tree, for all to see.)

Finally at Sconset Square on Sunday:  a Tesla electric car.

What’s that got to do with art?

According to the Wall Street Journal, Tesla is where “art and technology meet face to face.”  A Tesla official will discuss the car as an art form.

No word on what’s more expensive:  a Tesla, or art by emerging artists.

(Thursday’s and Sunday’s events are sponsored by Art by Local, a collaboration between the Westport Downtown Merchants Association and Westport Arts Center.)