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.”