Tag Archives: Westport Family YMCA

Behind The Bedford Square Construction Fence

Right now, an enormous (though colorful) construction fence defines downtown. It — along with bulldozers and other equipment — will be there for another year and a half, as Church Lane and environs is transformed into Bedford Square.

But the end result should be worth it. Fears that the former Tudor-style YMCA Bedford Building on the Post Road/Main Street corner would go the way of the much-less-loved cement Weeks Pavilion (it’s already been demolished) were allayed yesterday.

Bedford Square Associates unveiled a rendering of the 40,000 square-foot anchor tenant, Anthropologie. The design retains much of the historic aesthetic of the Bedford Building and adjacent firehouse.

Anthropologie

Anthropologie’s new Westport location will offer a clothing store, home store, beauty store with salon, bridal store, and a cafe/restaurant in the base of the old firehouse.

Much of the rest of the 110,000 square-foot retail/office/restaurant/residential complex will be in context with the scale and style of the surrounding neighborhood. It includes concealed parking, wider tree-lined sidewalks, public walkways and large courtyards.

The project will be finished in early 2017. At which point we will finally stop calling it “the old Y.”

Downtown Westport Springs To Life

Yesterday was the 1st real day of spring. And talented photographer Lynn U. Miller was there to capture it.

Many folks headed to the beach. But Lynn was intrigued by the number — and variety — of people wandering around, and enjoying, downtown Westport.

She enjoyed shooting a variety of scenes. You’ll enjoy seeing our familiar town with fresh eyes. (Click or hover any of the photos to enlarge!)

This relaxed couple enjoyed the view on a bench behind Oscar's. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

This relaxed couple enjoyed the view on a bench behind Oscar’s. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

University of Bridgeport grad students Neevaj Ram Motaparthy (electrical engineering) and Gopal Dugglna (computer science) snap their own shots. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Two people snap their own shots. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Ruben Alva of Bridgeport takes a break from work at the Spotted Horse. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Ruben Alva of Bridgeport heads to the river for a break from work at the Spotted Horse. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

From left: Fang Chih Lee, her mother Li Lee, and son/grandson Drake Chen. Drake lives in Westport. His mother and grandmother were visiting for the weekend, from Plymouth, Mass. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Fang Chih Lee, her mother Li Lee, and son/grandson Drake Chen. Drake lives in Westport. His mother and grandmother were visiting for the weekend, from Plymouth, Mass. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

An old-fashioned Church Lane sign. Reflected in the window: the former Max's Art Supplies. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

An old-fashioned Church Lane sign. Reflected in the window: the former Max’s Art Supplies. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

As the former Westport Y is  remade into Bedford Square, a window goes missing. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

As the former Westport Y is remade into Bedford Square, a window goes missing. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Before it was the Y fitness center, there was a firehouse next to the Bedford building. Now, you can see right through it. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Before it was the Y fitness center, there was a firehouse next to the Bedford building. Now you can see right through it. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Everyone out of the water! The deep end of the Y's large pool.

Everyone out of the water! The deep end of the Y’s large pool.

Near SoNo Baking -- across from the construction -- flowers bloom. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Near SoNo Baking — across from the construction — flowers bloom. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Westport Y: Suddenly $40 Million Richer

A capital campaign for a new Westport Weston YMCA  fell short of its goal earlier this decade. So the Mahackeno facility — called the Bedford Family Center — was broken into 2 phases.

Phase I opened last fall, with an airy fitness center, gleaming new pool, well-lit exercise rooms, nice new gym and a much-needed child’s play space. The site was purchased decades ago — with the generous help of Frederick T. Bedford, Ruth’s father.

The new YMCA -- known as the Bedford Family Center -- at Mahackeno.

The new YMCA — known as the Bedford Family Center — at Mahackeno.

But the new Y lacks other amenities, like childcare, gymnastics and racquetball. And the locker rooms are badly cramped. Y officials promised they’d be added some vague time later, during Phase II.

Phase II suddenly seems a lot closer to reality.

The Y announced today that it has received $40 million from the estate of Ruth Bedford. The last surviving granddaughter of Edward T. Bedford — a director of Standard Oil and founder of the Westport Y, among many other philanthropic projects — died last June, at 99.

Norwalk Hospital logoYet this is not Ruth Bedford’s only astonishing gift. She also left $40 million to Norwalk Hospital. She loved that institution too — and volunteered there, logging almost 17,000 hours in the gift shop, over 5 decades. (A previous gift from E.T. Bedford, decades ago, enabled the hospital to double its patient capacity.)

But wait! There’s more! Another $40 million bequest — believed to be the largest ever to an all-girls’ school — went to Foxcroft, a tiny private girls school in Virginia that was Bedford’s alma mater.

The Y’s plans for the fallen-from-the-sky money are not yet set.

Officials say they will use it for “current and future capital development needs” — perhaps including new locker rooms? — and “to endow programs for wellness and youth in a way that honors the tradition of the Bedford family legacy.”

For nearly a century, that legacy has enriched Westport. It continues to do so, even after death.