With the Westport Family Y firmly entrenched now at Mahackeno, David Waldman is moving ahead to build Bedford Square: the retail/office/ restaurant/residential complex that will substantially redefine our downtown.
Westporters are watching carefully, as work begins on the old Bedford building — the handsome Tudor-style structure that since 1923 has marked the Post Road/Main Street corner.
The 1978 Weeks Pavilion never engendered such love. A stark box with all the warmth of a Russian factory, it was thankfully hidden from view by trees, the Kemper-Gunn House, and the narrow confines of Church Lane.
When the Kemper-Gunn House was moved across Elm Street in November, the Weeks Pavilion was exposed.
Now, it’s being prepared for demolition.
The Weeks Pavilion, as viewed from Elm Street. An old, low-slung wooden medical building that fronted the road has already been removed.
Soon, all that will remain are memories of swim meets, racquetball, a cramped lobby, and newcomers wandering helplessly through a maze of hallways trying to find their way out.
On the other hand, compared to the new Y lockers, those in the Weeks Pavilion were like the Taj Mahal.
Most kids would do anything to make sure their hair looks cool.
Some would do almost anything.
So when they hear about an important fundraising event that involves sacrificing their hair, they say, “Go for it!”
The Westport Family Y gym buzzed today. That was the sound of clippers, as hundreds of youngsters got shorn.
Taking it all off, in the Y gym.
It was all part of the 11th annual TeamBrent St. Baldrick’s Celebration.
The idea is simple: Participants raise funds to fight childhood cancer. In exchange, they give up their hair.
The Y was behind the effort 1000%. There were opening ceremonies, a DJ, head painting, complimentary T-shirts, hats and photos — and free use of every part of the facility.
A selfie to remember. (Photos/Scott Smith)
Before today, TeamBrent — named for a 6th grader who, after a dozen surgeries, 6 rounds of chemo and 2 stem cell transplants, has survived Stage 4 neuroblastoma — raised $3.4 million for St. Baldrick’s, and $7.3 million overall.
After today, that figure is waaaay higher.
When we tip our cap to these kids, all we see is something beautiful.
The 90-year-old downtown Y is in its death throes this weekend.
This is the final day for the institution that since 1923 stood handsomely on the corner of the Post Road and Main Street. (And, less elegantly, on Church Lane since 1978.) It has withstood floods, hurricanes, Prohibition, the rise of post-war suburbia and the decline of mom-and-pop shops — plus much, much more.
Tomorrow, the Y is outta there. The new Mahackeno facility — bright, shiny, fresh, airy and modern — opens at 5:30 a.m.
We will miss plenty about the downtown Y. Like this:
Allen Raymond did many remarkable things in his 91 years of life on earth. The lifelong Westporter was a philanthropist, tireless volunteer, devoted church member, political leader, and adviser to selectmen. He was also one of the Westport Family Y‘s longest-serving, proudest board members, and a major contributor to the new Mahackeno facility.
He died on May 1 — less than 4 months before tonight’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. But Allen was not only at Mahackeno in spirit — he was really, truly there.
Y officials showed a video of their beloved benefactor. Filmed at Allen’s home in February — when he knew his life was ebbing away — it shows him at his best. He’s smiling warmly, joking gently, speaking lovingly and gracefully.
The new Mahackeno Y will hopefully thrive as long as its downtown predecessor did: 90 years. Yet in the next 9 decades, it’s hard to imagine any moment that can top tonight’s amazing appearance — one last time — by Allen Raymond.
(Click here if your browser does not take you directly to YouTube. Filmed, edited and produced by Brian Russell of Red Shoe Film. Aerial footage by Rick Eason.)
Construction delays, and the uncertainty of receiving necessary permits and certifications, have forced Westport Family Y leaders to reschedule the official opening of the new Mahackeno facility. The Y had expected to greet all Westporters with a free open house over Labor Day weekend.
A new opening date — hopefully early September — will be announced later this month.
The dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Y will take place as previously scheduled on Thursday, Aug. 28 (7 p.m.).
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