Tag Archives: “This Old House”

This Old House #13

Trust your instincts.

Westport Historical Society house historian Bob Weingarten thought that last week’s “mystery house” was the current site of Dream Spa — the handsome building at the entrance to the Crate & Barrel shopping center, between Green’s Farms Elementary School and Fortuna’s.

Then he thought it wasn’t. But research by the inestimable Wendy Crowther and others convinced him he was right all along. (Click here to see a 1930s photo of the house, and comments.)

This week’s house is a great one.

This Old House May 13, 2015

We know exactly where this very handsome home once stood. According to a state database of WPA photos, the house — built around 1823, and owned originally by “Wheeler or Capt. Gresham Bradley” — was “formerly situated on the present site of the Fine Arts Theater in State Street.”

That’s great. But the Fine Arts Theatre opened around 1920 — more than a decade before the photo was taken. It closed in 1999, and is now Restoration Hardware. And State Street has been renamed the Post Road.

So where was this house when the photo was taken?

Hopefully it has not been torn down in the interim.

If you know its whereabouts, click “Comments” below. The WHS is seeking info on this and other “mystery houses,” in preparation for an upcoming exhibit on the changing face of Westport.

Bonus photo: Here is what the Fine Arts Theatre looked like, a decade or 2 after it opened.

Fine Arts theatre black and white

This Old House #8

Once again, last week’s “This Old House” — the photo of a local home, taken in the 1930s for a WPA project, and soon to be shown at a Westport Historical Society exhibit on old houses — remains unidentified. At least, not positively.

Educated guesses ranged from Greens Farms/Wake Robin Road and Prospect Road, to Compo Beach, to Burritt’s Landing and Duck Pond Road. In other words, all over town. Click here to see the photo and comments.

This week’s house looks a bit different from the others in this series — and we see a bit more of the surroundings too.

This Old House #8

Plus, there’s solid information on the state website, where all these WPA photos are archived:

“Circa 1835, Ryan Estate. Location: Faces east on Canal Street; north end of the street and northwest of brook near Main Street.”

Still, WHS house historian Bob Weingarten is unsure exactly where on Canal Street this house is — or if it still stands. If you know, click “Comments.”

And if you’ve got any good stories about the history of Canal Street, add those too!

This Old House #7

Our house identification project is getting tougher.

Last week’s house — the latest in a series asking “06880” readers for information on homes photographed by the WPA in the 1930s, prior to a Westport Historical Society exhibit — has not yet been positively identified. Click here to see that photo, then scroll down for comments and suggestions.

Here is this week’s house. Unlike the others, we have no clue to its location. There is just one word on the back: “Westport.”

This Old House 7

If you think you know where in Westport it stands — or stood; it may have been demolished — click “Comments” below.

This Old House #6

Last week’s house — labeled “Cross Highway — near Bayberry or Great Hill Rd. Westport” — has been positively identified as 167 Cross Highway. Click here for that photo, and comments.

This week — in our continuing quest to help the Westport Historical Society identify 1930s-era WPA photos, prior to an exhibition on old houses — we present the Osborn House.

Actually, an Osborn House.

There are 2 by that name in Westport. One — from around 1683-87 — is the oldest surviving house in Westport. Located at 187 Long Lots Road, today it’s the Wynkoop house. (Fittingly, the late Susan Wynkoop was a WHS president.)

The other  house — the one “06880” readers are asked to help identify — could be anywhere in town. The inscription on the back says simply “Osborn Ho. Westport.” Here it is:

This Old House - April 8, 2015

So put on your thinking caps. Click comments if you think you know where it is (or was — it may have been torn down in the decades since the WPA photo was taken).

PS: “Osborn” might also have been spelled “Osborne.” Does that help?

This Old House Has Plenty Of Heart

If I made a list of my favorite houses in Westport, Betsyand Dan Kahn’s would be near the top.

It fits every criteria: location (a few feet from Compo Beach). Uniqueness. Beauty. Charm. Funkitude.

Betsy and Dan Kahn's house, at 9 Danbury Avenue.

Betsy and Dan Kahn’s house, 100 steps from the water.

“This Old House” likes it too. The website’s many readers chose it as one of their “20 most loved historical, whole-house remodels.”

Calling it “A Home With a Lot of Heart,” TOH described the back story.

The couple met 10 years ago in Honduras. One night, Dan drew a heart in the sand by her bungalow, and put a conch shell in the middle.

A year later — tired of their long-distance relationship — Betsy moved her interior design business from North Carolina to Westport. Dan had grown up here; now he has 2 kids.

9 Danbury Avenue, before the renovation.

9 Danbury Avenue, before the renovation.

They wanted “a fresh start in a home that they could call their own, so they embarked on a remodel project that could either make or break their bond,” TOH reports. They found a 1930s Craftsman cottage on Danbury Avenue.

Yellow vinyl siding went. So did asphalt shingles. Up and in went stained glass windows, wood floors, cedar shingles.

The couple paid tremendous attention to historical detail, used expert artisans, and incorporated as much recycled material as they could. (They even found huge slabs from the sub-floor of a South Carolina cotton mill.)

The renovation was not easy. “I thought we’d get divorced and we weren’t even married yet,” Betsy told This Old House.

The back yard features stone paving, plants and a 2nd-store balcony.

The back yard features stone paving, plants and a 2nd-store balcony.

But with “love and devotion” to their home — and to each other — they made it work.

And that love theme is not just mushy words. Heart shapes fill the house everywhere (they’re even melded into doors and windows). It’s one part of this old house’s charm. Part of the reason the home — sitting on just 1/10 of an acre — is one of my favorites.

And part of the reason why “This Old House” readers love it too.

(Betsy and Dan’s house is not for sale. However, they recently bought the property across the street — 8 Danbury Avenue — and built a similarly stunning, Peter Wormser-designed, low country beach house, with fantastic water views. It just went on the market. If interested, email betsydesigns@hotmail.com or call 203-222-9693.) 

The kitchen is beautiful, homey, centrally located -- a perfect hangout space.

Betsy and Dan Kahn’s kitchen is beautiful, homey, centrally located — a perfect hangout space.

The front porch is a perfect place to relax -- or have a fireworks party.

The front porch is a perfect place to relax — or have a fireworks party.