Westport is a town filled with — and known for — teardowns. Thankfully, some building owners invest time, energy, care, concern — and money — to preserve our history.
Last night at Town Hall, the Westport Historic District Commission honored the men and women who persevere, to preserve.
WHD Preservation Awards went to the owners of 6 private homes, 2 neighborhood restaurants, an office and a church.
8 Mayflower parkway
Built in 1926, and distinguished by a classically inspired portico, 8 Mayflower Parkway (off Compo Road South) was saved from demolition by David Vynerib, founder and principal of CCO Habitats. His extensive renovation restored the home to its prior glory.
19 SOUNDVIEW DRIVE
The “Stevens Cottage” was built in 1920, and is part of the Compo-Owenoke Historic District. Blanca and Sunil Hirani purchased it in 2020 — just before it was torn down — and then enhanced the entire streetscape of the beach exit road.
21 danbury avenue
Another home in the Compo-Owenoke Historic District, this bungalow was built in 1922 by Gertrude May Allen. It was bought in 2019 by Julie and John Headland, who preserved it in the midst of other teardowns in the area.
35 POST ROAD WEST
Built in 1825, the Davis Taylor House was a single-family residence that evolved into a multi-family dwelling from the 1920s through ’60s. Today the Federal style structure is home to Peter Cadoux Architects, who faithfully restored it as their office.
39 CROSS HIGHWAY
The original house was built in 1772 by Phineas Chapman, a Connecticut Militia lieutenant. It burned in 1877 and was rebuilt by his grandson, Charles Chapman. It remained in the family until 1927, when his last descendant died. It later served as a nursery school. Designated as a local historic property by Deborah Howland and her son Galen Murray in 2018, new owners Amy Gay and Matthew Burrows recently completed an extensive renovation of the property on a very visible road.
71 HILLANDALE ROAD
Green’s Farms Congregational Church was established in 1711, when Westport was part of Fairfield. A meetinghouse was raised near what is now the Sherwood Island Connector commuter parking lot. The church’s 3rd building was constructed in 1853, on Hillandale. It expanded in phases. In 2019 — with the structure needing major renovation — the congregation quickly raised funds to repair the original foundation, restore the steeple and overhaul the organ. Click here for a full story.
161 cross highway
The Masiello family opened Christie’s Country Store in 1926, to sell produce grown on their nearby farm. They gave up farming in the late 1940s, but continued the business and added a gazebo moved from Redding Road. In 1958 the market was enlarged. It has gone through various incarnations — including, briefly, a dry cleaner’s — but longtime owner Tim Purcell renovated it. It now houses the popular Porch @ Christie’s restaurant.
163 CROSS HIGHWAY
This property, built by James Masiello in 1922 for his wife Mary, has been in the family for over 100 years. The Colonia Revival home has been lovingly conserved by Jean Masiello.
222 HILLSPOINT ROAD
Built in 1919, this is the oldest continually operating retail and food store in Westport. Designed as a small market to serve the area around Old Mill Beach, it was known variously as “Old Mill Grocery,” “Kenny’s,” “Elvira’s” and “Joey’s by the Shore.” A year ago, when sale to a residential developer seemed imminent, a group of residents formed the Soundview Empowerment Alliance. They saved it from destruction, renovated it, and turned it once again into a beloved “Old Mill Grocery & Deli.” Click here for a full story.
276 MAIN STREET
The Patrick Rice House (aka the Gray-Coley House and the Lamar Webb House) is one of the finest examples of Italianate style in Westport. Believed to be built in 1869, it is part of the Gorham Avenue Historic District. It has been lovingly maintained by a long history of owners. Current stewards Kristin Schneeman and Ezra Greenberg have meticulously maintained the property since buying it in 2011.
The Historic District Commission is chaired by Grayson Braun. She and Donna Douglass wrote all the narratives for the awards. Bill Harris donated the printing of the programs for the ceremony through his organization, the Army Aviation Associated of America.
The awards were organized by coordinator Donna Douglass; former member and house researcher Bob Weingarten; former chair and current member Bill Harris, who donated the printing of the programs through his Army Aviation Association of America, and HDC members Scott Springer, Wendy Van Wie, Martha Eidman and Elizabeth Bolognino.
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