Tag Archives: Westport Museum of History & Culture

Roundup: Hamlet, Holiday Giving, Casa Me, Middle School Art …

The Planning & Zoning Commission held its final public hearing last night on the proposed text and map amendment change for The Hamlet at Saugatuck.

Scaled-down versions of the original plan show less density and height.

The commission has 65 days to render a decision. It will likely be discussed next at their December 5 work session.

An original design for The Hamlet at Saugautck …

… and a revised version.

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Just in time for the holidays: Westport’s Department of Human Services’ Giving Program is back.

Donations from community members are a huge help to Westport families facing financial hardship. One hundred families with school-aged children benefit each year from the program. 

This year, rising costs for food, housing and fuel has added strains to many local budgets.

Gift cards and cash donations are matched with families, who then purchase food and simple holiday gifts for their children. Beneficiaries are anonymous. 

The program enables parents to personalize their presents, and participate fully in the holiday season.

Residents and organizations can donate cash, checks or gift cards to the “Family to Family Seasonal Holiday Giving Program” online (click here). Contributions can also be dropped off at Town Hall, or mailed to the Department of Human Services c/o Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.

Westport residents facing financial difficulties can contact Human Services at 203-341-1050 or humansrv@westportct.gov for confidential assistance.

Questions? Email adaugelli@westportct.gov or call 203-341-1183.

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CTBites’ weekly blog leads with a story about Casa Me.

The story on the new restaurant in the longtime Sconset Square corner begins:

Casa Me elevates the local restaurant scene with its exceptional Northern Italian vacation-inspired cuisine.

For months Westporters and passersby wondered what was to become of the slightly rundown restaurant in Sconset Square in the midst of a massive renovation and remodel that seemed to take forever. Rumors began to circulate… a Mexican restaurant was coming to town (another?). A Spanish restaurant was moving in. (That’s across the street.) There was also some speculation that a new concept by restauranteur Mario Fontana, owner of the Bodega restaurants both in Fairfield and Darien was going to open.

Fontana was indeed opening a new restaurant, Casa Me, but the cuisine would be distinctly vacation-inspired Italian cuisine. This time he would be joined by his wife, the lovely Pina Ferlisi, who would take on the role of Creative Director after leaving a long and successful career as a fashion director for such esteemed brands as Henri Bendel and Alexander McQueen.

Click here for the full story. For the Casa Me website, click here.

A Casa Me collage, courtesy of CTBites.

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Big art is coming to Westport’s middle schools.

The Westport Public Art Collections’ new program will display large format artwork. loaned by local and regional artists.

The goal is to expand WestPAC’s mission of bringing original works to schools, to help stimulate discussion and connections with art and other curricula.

The middle school program was piloted last year when Coleytown reopened, with Eric Chiang’s “Are We Born Connected” and “History Civilizations.” 

Two artists are loaning works for the 2022-23 school year. Jay Petrow offers a large-scale canvas “So Sorry” for Bedford Middle School, while Liz Leggett’s 3 abstractions are at Coleytown.  

Both Westport artists have completed their installations. Throughout the school year they’ll speak to art classes, be interviewed by student newspapers and TV, and continue sharing their stories, experiences, and practices with students and staff.

Jay Petrow with “So Sorry.”

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A reminder: Staples High School Candlelight Concert tickets go “on sale” to the public — don’t worry, they’re still free! — on December 1.Performances are Friday, December 16 (8 p.m.) and Saturday, December 17 (3 and 8 p.m.).

The event combines 80 years of tradition with a modern holiday spirit. The Symphonic Orchestra, Symphonic Band and Choral Ensembles perform Candlelight favorites like “Sing We Noel” and “Hallelujah Chorus.” Also movements from Tchaikovsky’s “Nutcracker Suite,” music from “Home Alone” by John Williams, and the first movement of Dan Forrest’s “Jubilate Deo.”

Set your reminders. Candlelight tickets get gobbled up fast!

Oh, yeah. Here’s the (easy to remember) link is: www.StaplesMusic.org.

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The Westport Museum for History & Culture is teaming up with Verso Studios at the Westport Library for a new podcast.

“Buried in Our Past” focuses on the histories all around us, It offers a new way to look at the past, and rethink the present.

The monthly podcast is recorded at Verso Studios. It’s available on the Library’s YouTube channel, and through Apple and Spotify.

The debut episode (available now) features the true story of the first Thanksgiving with guest Greg Porretta, a Julliard-trained actor and Westport Museum board member. Click below to see:

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Last month, 5-year-old Daisy Jonas contracted RSV, the respiratory virus that is especially dangerous in young children. She spent 3 nights — including her birthday — at Stamford Hospital.

Her parents were grateful for the new toys given to her during her stay. Now it’s time to give back.

Daisy’s older brother — 9-year-old Levi — wants to join her in collecting toys from Westporters, for Stamford Hospital. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off by December 18. Email biancablairjonas@gmail.com for the address; click here for an Amazon wish list.

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Westport resident Dr Jim Gadzik, Westporter — a trauma surgeon at Norwalk Hospital — has a life outside of the operating room.

He can cross off one bucket list item. He’s just written a play.

“Magic: A Ballroom Musical” will be staged at Norwalk’s Wall Street Theater this Saturday (November 26, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.).

It’s an original, Christmas-themed, family-friendly show, featuring 30 songs and 7 ballroom dances.

Jim explains: “It is the story of Pam and Bob, 2 lonely people who find love in a ballroom studio on an enchanted Christmas weekend when they are offered free lessons as a holiday gift by an intriguing dance instructor. If you like Hallmark, Disney and happy endings, you’ll love ‘Magic.'”

Click here for tickets, as well as the livestream link.

 

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Speaking of doctors: Bob Altbaum is guest speaker at the Y’s Women’s next meeting (Monday, November 28, 11:30 a.m., Green’s Farms Church). The public is invited.

Dr. Altbaum retired last year from Internal Medicine Associates of Westport, where he spent his entire career. He joined them in 1978.

An exceptional diagnostician, he is also a Renaissance man. He teaches, hikes, snowshoes, plays tennis and pickleball, and is a keyboardist in the doctor-filled rock group DNR.  They play at places like the Levitt Pavilion, and fundraisers for pancreatic and breast cancer, Norwalk Hospital and ALS.

Dr. Robert Altbaum

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Jazz does not take a holiday.

In honor of Thanksgiving, the weekly “Jazz at the Post” series moves this week to Wednesday.

Well-known pianist Chris Coogan joins bassist Don Falzone and drummer Jim Royle for 7:30 and 8:45 p.m. sets at VFW Post 399 (465 Riverside Avenue).

There’s a $15 cover, with dinner starting at 7 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended: JazzatthePost@gmail.com.

Chris Coogan

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup included photos of 2 joyful soccer teams: Staples High School girls, and Greens Farms Academy boys.

Both won championships on Sunday: the “LL” state and New England Prep School titles, respectively.

Here’s another happy guy: Paul Marchese. He lives in Westport, but coaches the Ridgefield High School girls swim team.

Under his guidance, the Tigers captured this year’s FCIAC, state LL and state open championships.

He looks deservedly excited. But aren’t winning swim teams supposed to toss their coach into the pool? (Hat tip: Anne Pfeiffer)

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“The Laramie Project” — the Unitarian Church of Westport’s weekend play — was a simple but powerful production examining the aftermath of the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard.

It was also timely, coming on the same weekend a man killed 5 patrons of a gay club in Colorado Springs, and wounded many others.

After the actors took their bows, the audience remained for an insightful talkback.

“Laramie Project” talkback, at the Unitarian Church. (Hat tip and photo/Jill Johnson Mann)

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There have been a ton of seagulls recently at Sherwood Mill Pond.

Matt Murray snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo yesterday, as they enjoyed breakfast.

(photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … following up on his photo (above), Matt Murray offers today’s musical selection:

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Roundup: Long Lots Preserve, Hemp, Traffic …

The Long Lots Preserve is one step closer to reality.

But the ecologically important, sustainably sound and very natural project around the perimeter of the Westport Community Garden needs our help.

Under the direction of Lou Weinberg — and with the help of many volunteers and businesses — neglected public open space, overrun with invasive plants and pests, is being turned into a native New England environmental oasis.

The project includes the removal of non-native plants. Then comes dense planting with native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses. They attract and sustain hundreds of year-round and migrating organisms. including the endangered monarch butterfly and native mason bees.

If the Long Lots Preserve gets $7,500 from at least 70 people, Sustainable Connecticut will match it with $7,500 more.

All money raised will purchase plants at wholesale cost. All deductions are tax-deductible.

Click here to donate online, and for more information. Checks can be mailed to Long Lots Preserve, 1630 Post Road East, Unit 129, Westport, CT 06880.

PS: Partners include Connecticut Audubon, Aspetuck Land Trust, Earthplace, Bartlett Tree Experts, AJ Penna & Son, Robbie Guimond, SIR Development, Southwest Conservation District, Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Service Forestry Program,  Community Gardens members, many private citizens and 2 Staples High School interns.

The Long Lots preserve weed suppression team (from left0: Lou Weinberg, Darryle Kowalsky, Frank Rosen, Julie O’Grady, Andrew Coleman.

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New England Hemp Farm has transitioned from its Brooks Corner store, to an online and wholesale business.

But you can still buy its full line of products — for yourself and your pet. They’ve partnered with Earth Animal, on Post Road East.

CEO Matt Bannon says, “Since humans and their pets both have an endocannabinoid system and suffer from similar conditions such as inflammation, anxiety, autoimmune and sleep cycle issues, this is a unique opportunity to keep a local presence.”

It’s a great fit for several reasons. “Earth Animal is committed to a health and wellness philosophy for pets and humans. They’re friendly and welcoming people who allow us to provide all of our products to clients who prefer to shop in-person. And this allows us to support another business right here in town.

 

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When classes resume Tuesday, the Westport Police Department will increase traffic enforcement in school zones. Officers will look for drivers on cell phones, speeding and disregarding bus signals.

The department says: “We urge commuters to allow extra time, as they will be sharing the roads with school buses making frequent stops, as well as children who will be walking and/or biking to school. Obey the school bus laws, which include slowing down and preparing to stop for yellow flashing school bus lights and stopping for red flashing school bus lights.”

They urge parents to discuss safety with their children — and with young or inexperienced drivers at home.

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Speaking of safety:

I got 2 emails within half an hour yesterday. As Westporters return from summer trips, and we head into even busier traffic times, both are worth noting.

Shelly Sherman writes: “Please emphasize the need for cars to slow down. and stop at crosswalks on Compo Road South. More than once I’ve had to sprint across with my dogs to avoid being run over by cars speeding to ???

“This area of Westport has so many runners, walkers and bikers, it’s amazing more people haven’t been hurt. Pedestrians in crosswalks have the right of way — but I’d not want to test that theory every morning.”

Carol Sampson describes another danger, in a different part of town:

“Despite the sign saying ‘State Law Yield to Pedestrians’ at Post Road and Bay Street, it is clear from my experience today that few people actually stop. (One did, but the others whizzed by.) What is wrong with drivers in this town?”

Hmmm…let me think…

Entitled? Distracted? Selfish? What have I missed?

It’s a beautiful day. Just don’t try to cross the Post Road here. (Photo/Carol Sampson)

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Staples High School Class of 2012 graduate Sam Reiner met Mallory Silliere 2 years ago this month, on a dating app.

On their second date, he took her kayaking on the Saugatuck River. They pulled up to the Black Duck for lunch. It’s remained one of their favorite dates.

Last Saturday, Sam proposed to Mallory — on the dock behind the Duck.

A small group of family and friends helped celebrate.

Wedding plans are TBD. It may not be at everyone’s favorite dive bar. But there are still bachelor and bachelorette parties to plan …

A Black Duck proposal.

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Last month, “06880” reported on the Wings4Peace national art-and-gun safety awareness project.

Yesterday, artist Darcy Hicks provided an update. She says:

“Today marks 3 months since the Uvalde massacre. This morning, part 2 of the Wings4Peace message reminds communities everywhere to remember those children – and all children who are affected by gun violence.

“Last night, people across the country put out the second set of wings, which say ‘in America,’ making the message so far, ‘Peace in America…’

“Each month on the 24th the sentence grows, with the mission to inspire people to take action against gun violence. Art has always inspired societal change.”

For more information, click here.

Darcy Hicks’ “Wings4Peace” artwork, at the Westport Museum for History & Culture.

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Speaking of back-to-school (see above): Are you ready for winter and spring break?

Builders Beyond Borders is already planning service trips to Ecuador. To learn more, students and families are invited to a pair of open houses: this Sunday (August 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m.) and September 14 (6 to 7:30 p.m.) at the B3 office (66 Fort Point Street, Norwalk). RSVP here.

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The other day, Tricia Freeman headed down the internet rabbit hole. She ended up at a 1950 New Yorker story about Ernest Hemingway.

In the piece by Lillian Ross, the author has just arrived in New York, heading to Europe. There are 2 Westport references, starting with:

“Where I like it is out West in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, and I like Cuba and Paris and around Venice,” (Hemingway) said. “Westport gives me the horrors.”

Is that Westport, Connecticut? With so many of them in the world — and so many non-East Coast places mentioned in the quote — who knows?

But the second one narrows it down:

“Hunting is sort of a good life,” Hemingway said. “Better than Westport or Bronxville, I think.”

That’s it.

Besides his long friendship with the late author A.E. Hotchner, did Papa Hemingway have any connection at all with our town?

If you know — or think you do, click “Comments” below. And if you want to read the entire (long) New Yorker piece, click here.

A.E. Hotchner and Ernest Hemingway.

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cARTie — Connecticut’s first (and only) non-profit mobile art museum bus — bridges inequities in education and arts access across the state.

Each year, they exhibit a juried art show of diverse high school student art. It’s interactive, designed to inspire young students and families.

Several current and former Staples students have exhibited with cARTie.

This year’s event is Sunday, September 18 (3-5 p.m., Westport Museum of History & Culture). The afternoon includes “paint and sip,” live music, a silent auction and raffle, awards and food. Click here for more on cARTie.

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Yesterday’s “06880” noted the ongoing drought, and asked for photos.

Stacy Prince sent this, of the Aspetuck River at the Coleytown Road and North Avenue corner.

(Photo/Stacy Prince)

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Jonathan Prager describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“A nifty bumblebee blissfully nestled into the blossom of a sedum spectabile sponging up its nectar. I hope you enjoy this as much as s/he enjoys it!”

(Photo/Jonathan Prager)

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And finally … as back-to-school traffic picks up, and traffic continues crazily in other parts of town (see above):

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Roundup: Ignazio’s Pizza, Grace Salmon Park, Cribari Bridge …

In May, “06880” reported that Ignazio’s was looking for a new owner.

The asking price was $275,000. Rent is $8,000 a month.

The restaurant in the former Bertucci’s space is now closed. Tables and chairs are stacked outside, and lights are off inside.

A phone call brings this cheery-sounding message: “Hi! You’ve reached Pizza Life, formerly Ignazio’s. We are remodeling, and will be back soon!”

Meanwhile, Ignazio’s’ website — still live — promises a new location, coming soon to Mystic. The original location was in Brooklyn.

Iganzio’s opened in Westport in November 2019, just 4 months before COVID struck.

Ignazio’s, this week. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Grace Salmon Park is one of Westport’s most beautiful — and underrated — places to relax.

Yesterday, it was a classroom.

University of Connecticut master gardeners (and Westport residents) Monica Buesser, Alice Ely and Nathalie Fonteyne  conducted an invasive plant workshop. It was sponsored by the Westport Garden Club.

Sixteen participants learned about the park’s top 15 invasive plants. They then broke into 4 groups, each canvasing a quarter of the site — and found several different invasives.

The next step: using the data to apply for a grant for removal of invasives from Grace Salmon.

Buesser — the conservation chair of the Westport Garden Club —  plans to be at Grace Salmon Park every Thursday from 8 to 10 a.m. (weather permitting). She invites everyone interested in weeding or learning more about the park’s plants to join her.

“You can’t miss me. I wear overalls!” she says.

Grace Salmon Park is a beautiful spot. Like many in Westport, however, it is home to several invasive species. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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Seen on the Town of Westport’s Instagram:

The Public Works Department was out in force on Bridge Street. Workers cut back branches and brush that had encroached on the pedestrian walkway leading to Saugatuck.

It won’t make your drive over the Cribari Bridge any quicker. But it’s sure a boon to the many bikers, joggers and walkers who love the view.

(Photo courtesy of Department of Public Works)

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Three Westport non-profits have received CT Humanities grants:

  • United Nations Association Southwestern Connecticut, Westport: $4,980, for “When the Stars are Scattered” author/illustrator visits.
  • Westport Country Playhouse: $14,750 for the production of “From the Mississippi Delta” this coming October.
  • Westport Museum for History & Culture: $4,074 for “Saugatuck Stories: Walking Tour Exploring Diverse Experiences.”

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Sure, NASA is excited about the James Webb Space Telescope.

But the Westport Astronomical Society has Cal Powell.

The former WAS president hosts the “Cal & Friends Meteorite Show & Tell Party” on Tuesday (July 19, 8 p.m.).

Cal received his first meteorite in 2010, as a going-away gift from WAS. He started collecting them a few years later. His collection of nearly 400 specimens covers most meteorite classifications.

Cal will his present his extensive personal meteorite collection, and introduce Stefan Nicolescu with rare samples from Yale’s Peabody Museum. The WAS adds: “Bring your own meteorites and assemble your meteorwrongs!” Click here for more information.

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Noted local artists Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow hosted the third and final noir film last night, on the Westport Library’s large Trefz Forum screen.

“Nightmare Alley” was part of the series accompanying the artists’ “Double Indemnity” art exhibit, in the Library’s Sheffer Gallery. It runs through August 6.

Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is as delectable as it gets: raspberries, straight from Lauri Weiser’s back yard.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Lauri Weiser’s photo (above) reminds us of …

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Finance Board To Hear ARPA $$$ Requests

Next year, Westport will receive $8.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act  funding. The money is part of a $2.2 trillion CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) economic stimulus package.

Earlier this month, “06880” reported one possible use. The Greens Farms Association hopes the town can repair the crumbling jetty at Burying Hill Beach.

On January 5 (7:30 p.m., Zoom), the Board of Finance will review a $1.3 million request from the Department of Public Works for that project.

They’ll also discuss an application for $200,643 in funds from the Westport Arts Advisory Council. It includes 12 organizations that could use some of that money:

Artists Collective of Westport: $20,000 to beautify new bus shelters with changing local artist work; full-color, large-scaled prints of adjudicated works to rotate every 2 months.

Beechwood Arts: $20,000 for 4 all-arts collaborative events, including community scavenger hunts, art opening, story share and facilitated dinner discussion.

JIB Productions: $20,000 for 2 projects: 1) Play Time (professionally moderated structred play reading/discussion group, 6 sessions at the Senior Center); 2) Partnership with Westport Library, Bridgeport schools and Westport schools to screen (with director talk-back) “Change the Name,” a documentary abouyt a group of middle school students who successfully changed the name of a Chicago park from slaveholder to abolitionist.

Levitt Pavilion: $20,000 to underwrite 4 free presentations for 2022 summer season, including folk, jazz, rock and big band concerts.

MoCA: $20,000 for weekly art enrichment workshops for underserved community groups such as STAR, Silver Hill Hospital, Veterans groups/Homes for the Brave, Bridgeport Boys & Girls Club, etc.

Suzuki School of Music: $20,000 for a community concert series in-person and streamed from the Westport Library; Connecticut Guitar Festival, Concerto and Aria Concert, Piano Concerto Concert and Family Pillow Concerts.

Westport Country Playhouse: $20,000 for a pilot program mobile tour of elementary school plays, touring Westport and Fairfield County; partnering with TEAM Westport, ConnectUs, the Boys & Girls Club of Connecticut/Southport, Westport Library and Norwalk Housing Authority.

Westport Museum of History & Culture: $20,000 for a graphic novel to explore the American Revolution from 6 perspectives: women, Indigenous people, enslaved and free Americans, loyalists, patriots, and local authors/illustrators.

WestPAC: $20,000 for art storage: professional fees ($125 an hour/160 hours) to perform a feasibility study to to adapt town-owned facilities for the Collection’s storage needs.

Community Band: $12,500 to commission a piece to commemorate the COVIDI experience, to be played at the Levitt Pavilion.

Music for Youth $6,518 for the Arkai gender-bending string duo 2-day residency and pormances a Westport middle schools and Staples High; master classes for orchestra students, performances for full schools.

Westport School of Music: $3,625 for a faculty chamber concert for The Residence at Westport assisted-living facility.

The Board of Finance meeting on January 5 will be streamed on www.WestportCT.gov, and shown on Optimum Channel 79 and Frontier Channel 6020. Emails can be sent to BOF@westportct.gov. Comments to be read during public comment period may be emailed to BOFcomments@westportct.gov.

New Plaques: Honest Insights Into Local History

Across America, towns and cities grapple with difficult elements of history by removing statues, and changing names.

In Westport, we’re putting up plaques.

Without fanfare, a pair of historic markers have been installed downtown. One adds important information about the founding of our community. The other honors a long-forgotten group of Black residents.

The first plaque stands behind Town Hall, on a door near the parking lot.

The plaque behind Town Hall.

 

It notes that indigenous people lived in this area for thousands of years, before Europeans arrived. It says that the Paugussets were driven away in the Great Swamp Fight of 1637, and acknowledges that Westport’s founding fathers built a prosperous agriculture community using “forced labor of enslaved Africans and Natives.”

The plaque describes events like the Revolutionary War; the importance of the river and railroad, and our growth as an arts colony and New York suburb.

The Town Hall plaque.

But it mentions too that Westport became more diverse “with an influx of international residents and a thriving Jewish community. These residents worked to remove restrictive deed covenants in the housing and commercial real estate markets.”

The plaque includes the image of an enslaved woman. A QR code brings up more information about Westport’s history.

A marker commemorating 22 1/2 Main Street (now 28 Main Street) has been placed on Elm Street, opposite Serena & Lily. That’s near the rear of what was once a thriving Black community.

The Elm Street plaque.

A similar brass plaque will be placed soon on the Main Street entrance to the Bedford Square courtyard.

Both explain that residents of the neighborhood made up the majority of Westport’s African-American population. Many were descended from people enslaved by European settlers.

Residents of 22 1/2 Main Street were “maids, cooks, gardeners, drivers and groomsmen to affluent Westporters.” The area included a grocery store, barber shop and Baptist church.

The plaque commemorating 22 Main Street.

In December 1949, the plaque says, residents petitioned the Representative Town Meeting to be considered for planned affordable housing. They were rebuffed.

The next month, a local paper predicted “great loss of life” if a fire broke out in the “slum.”

Eight days later, a blaze did occur.

There were no fatalities. But most buildings were destroyed, and nearly every resident moved from Westport.

Though arson was suspected, there was never an investigation.

The 22 1/2 Main Street plaque includes photographs, an illustration and a QR code.

Both plaques are highlighted on the official town website. The “Diversity, Equity & Inclusion” page says:

Westport is a town with a future that is bright and full of promise. We respect the richness of our past, and commit to addressing future challenges with particular focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion for all who live, visit, and work in our town. As an engaged community, we are bound by a passion for the arts, education, the preservation of natural resources, and our beautiful shoreline. We are uniquely positioned to thrive in the years to come.

The Town of Westport, in consultation with TEAM Westport is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in our community. The plaque project works to correct prior versions of Westport’s written history.

The plaque project was undertaken by TEAM Westport, with help from 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, town operations director Sara Harris, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich, and Westport Museum of History & Culture director Ramin Ganeshram.

A 2018 exhibit at the Westport Museum of History & Culture included photos and text about 22 1/2 Main Street.

 

Roundup: Fireworks, Juneteenth, Gold’s …

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There are no 4th of July fireworks in Westport this year.

But there were pyrotechnics off Compo last night.

A private party — and anyone else down there around 10 — enjoyed a brief display. As in colonial (okay, pre-pandemic) days, they were launched from a barge offshore.

The event was legit. Police inspected the operation earlier in the evening.

But it sure surprised plenty of folks around town, who heard it.

And their dogs.

Fireworks off Compo Beach last night.

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The Westport Museum of History & Culture honors Juneteenth — the commemoration of the end of slavery in the US — with a special walking program on Westport’s African American history.

The June 19 event (2 to 3:30 p.m.). features guides, who will share stories of the area’s Black community from colonial times through today. It’s based on the museum’s exhibit “Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport.”

Space is limited to 10 people per tour. Reservations ($10 each) are required, Click here to purchase.

Meanwhile, this Tuesday (June 15, 6 p.m.), the museum will showcase objects related to Black history. It’s part of their Tuesday Treasures program, showcasing objects from the collection not normally on public view.

To watch live and ask questions, visit their Facebook page or YouTube channel.

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For over 60 years, Gold’s Delicatessen has been Westport’s go-to place for pastrami, bagels and lox and more.

And though it did a healthy takeout business over the past 15 months, there’s no surer sign that Westport is back from COVID than this: Gold’s indoor tables are once again open.

So go. Have breakfast or lunch. Sit and schmooze. Just like in 2019.

Or 1959.

Gold’s is back! (Photo/Toby Burns)

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It’s one thing to have a national champion rowing team.

It’s astonishing to have two — and both in the same age group.

That’s what Saugatuck Rowing Club did yesterday. Both girls U-17 teams — 4+ and 8+ won the US Rowing Youth Nationals in Sarasota, Florida.

Congratulations to 8+ rowers Mia Kirkorsky (coxswain), and rowers Claudia Chadwick, Elisabeth Chadwick, Hannah Clemens, Maia Freeman, Isabella Furman, Jane Leahy, Janna Moore and Lauren Schramm. All except Isabell and Lauren are from Westport.

In the 4+ boat: Westporters Victoria Bazarko and Rosie Lundberg, plus Ella Casano, Kelly Kennedy and Alexandra Cowan.

Coaches are Gordon Getsinger, Anna Yamamoto and Mike O’’Hara.

Look for them all back soon, on the river. You’ll know who they are by the gold glinting off the sun.

Saugatuck Rowing Club’s U17 8+ boat: national champs!

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What’s better than a dinner of Pizza Pete’s homemade pies at Wakeman Town Farm with the family?

The same event — but without the kids. (C’mon — admit it!)

An adults-only event — yes, there’s wine — is set for Thursday, June 24 (7 p.m.). The outdoor event includes individual pizzas from Skinny Pines’ Jeff Borofsky, a bottle from The Grapevine, and live music. Click here for details, and tickets.

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Comedy returns to the Remarkable Theater screen this Tuesday (June 15, 8:30 p.m.). “Bridesmaids” tops the bill. Click here for tickets and more information.

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Jocelyn & Chris — their siblings, so I guess they don’t need last names — entertained an appreciative MoCA Westport crowd Friday night.

The outdoor concert was part of their summer-long concert series. Next: a classical piano concert by Alessio Bax and Lucille Chung (Friday, June 25). They’re married, BTW. Click here for tickets and more information.

Jocelyn & Chris entertain at MoCA Westport. (Photo/Maddy Martin)

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“Westport … Naturally” gets lots of gorgeous shots. This is not one of them.

Sherwood Island (Photo/Molly Alger)

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And finally … missing sit-down meals at Gold’s is not anything like what Charles Dickens’ orphans went through. Still, it’s not celebrate the return of the popular deli’s glorious food.

Stations Of The Cross Honors Racial Justice

A few dozen Westporters celebrated Good Friday yesterday through a marking of the Stations of the Cross. The walk was a call to dismantle racism, and pursue racial justice.

“Give us eyes to see how the past has shaped the complex present,” said Rev. John Betit of Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.

Participants stopped at several sites related to Black history in Westport. Christ & Holy Trinity, Saugatuck Congregational Church and the Westport Museum of History & Culture collaborated for the event.

After an initial prayer in the Christ & Holy Trinity courtyard, the group headed to the entrance of the church parking lot on Elm Street.

Rev. John Betis, at Christ & Holy Trinity Church: the first Station of the Cross. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)

They looked across at Bedford Square. In the 1940s, it was the back of a boarding house — accessible through an alley at 22 1/2 Main Street (later the entrance to Bobby Q’s) — that was the hub of a thriving Black community.

By 1949 though, it was considered a slum. The town would not grant permits for improvements. In December, residents asked the RTM to be considered for the affordable housing being built at Hales Court. They were denied.

In January 1950 — 8 days after a newspaper wondered what would happen if a fire broke out there — that is exactly what happened. Unable to obtain housing anywhere else in town, the Black community scattered — and disappeared forever.

Heading to the next Station of the Cross. (Photo courtesy of Christ & Holy Trinity Church)

The next station was the site of the former Ebenezer Coley general store, at the Main Street entrance to Parker Harding Plaza. The original outline of that saltbox building remains; it’s the former Remarkable Book Shop and (later) Talbots.

The river came up to the back of the store. Enslaved people loaded grain grown at the Coley farm onto ships bound for New York. There it was loaded onto larger ships, which sailed to the West Indies where it fed other enslaved Blacks.

The group then walked a few steps to the Museum of History & Culture. Ebenezer Coley’s son Michael owned the home at the corner of Avery Place and Myrtle Avenue. He managed the Coley store, and oversaw the enslaved people.

Bricks bear the names of over 240 enslaved and 20 free people of color, part of the parish of Greens Farms Congregational Church. They appear in the church log book as births, baptisms, marriages and deaths.

Owners brought their enslaved people into church for services, though they — and freemen — had to stand in the balcony above the sanctuary.

Bricks at the Westport Museum of History & Culture honor more than 200 Black men, women and children from the 18th and 19th centuries. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)

A short walk up Evergreen Avenue brought the group to the Saugatuck Church cemetery. Cyrus Brown — who, like many others affecte by racism and legal bias, went from being a landowner and farmer to a servant of the Gorham family — is buried there.

Brown’s relationship with the Gorhams was evidently strong. He is buried in the family’s plot, with a high quality headstone of his own.

A stop at Evergreen Cemetery. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)

After that final station, worshipers walked through the woods to the Saugatuck Church property. The labyrinth on the lawn provided space and time for  final Good Friday reflections.

Walking through the woods, to Saugatuck Church. (Photo/Rev. Alison Patton)

A final stop at Saugatuck Church. (Photo/Bob Mitchell)

(Historical background provided by the Westport Museum for History & Culture.)

Roundup: WWII Vet, Patagonia Mural, Oyster Boat, More


Jimmy Izzo never knew his grandfather’s brother. Army Staff Sgt. Louis Doddo was 30 years old when he was killed at Saipan on July 7, 1945 — just 2 months before the Japanese surrendered, to end World War II.

His remains were not identified. “Unknown X-26” was buried in the Philippines in 1950.

But now Izzo — a 1983 Staples High School graduate, longtime RTM member and former owner of Crossroads Ace Hardware store — and his family have closure.

Izzo’s cousin, Kathy Bell Santarella, began searching for his remains 10 years ago. Thanks to her persistence, the work of the American Graves Registration Service, and DNA samples from various aunts and uncles, “Unknown X-26” has been positively identified as Doddo.

The 105th Infantry Regiment, 27th Infantry Division soldier will buried in May in his hometown of Norwalk.

His name, meanwhile, is recorded on the Courts of the Missing at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, along with others still missing. A rosette will be placed next to his name, indicating he has been accounted for.

Click here to read the full story, from the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

Staff Sgt. Louis S. Doddo


Some cool murals — dating back to its days as Westport Bank & Trust — hang inside Patagonia.

Now there’s a pretty cool one outside too.

Many years ago, the clothing store and Green Village Initiative had a strong relationship. GVI has evolved from a Westport-based, volunteer organization to a Bridgeport urban farming and gardening non-profit. Its mission is to grow food, knowledge, leadership and community, to create a more just food system.

But the connection with Patagonia continues, based on a shared commitment to food justice.

The mural is one example. Painted by Charlyne Alexis and Stephanie Gamrra Cretara, it promotes and supports local farming, and GVI.

Plus, it looks awesome. (Hat tip: Pippa Bell Ader)


Tammy Barry has often wondered about the oyster boat moored often in Long Island Sound.

The other day, through binoculars, she read the name: Catherine M. Wedmore.

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

Intrigued, she googled it. This came up on the Westport Museum of History & Culture page:

“Catherine M. Wedmore is a 56 foot wooden oyster boat built in in West Mystic, Connecticut in 1924. This 96 year old lady still works daily harvesting oysters from Norwalk to Westport for Norm Bloom & Son/Copps Island Oysters.”

Now you know!


Have you started planning for the Parks & Rec Department’s first-ever holiday house decorating contest?

Andrew Colabella spotted this interesting scene, on Dogwood Lane. Click here for contest details.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)


It’s a dog-eat-dog world. Or, perhaps, a bird-eat-fish world.

Molly Alger spotted this scene recently at Sherwood Island State Park:

(Photo/Molly Alger)


And finally … on this day in 1969, the Rolling Stones were the featured band at the Altamont Free Concert. During “Sympathy for the Devil,” 18-year-old  Meredith Hunter was stabbed to death by Hell’s Angels security guards. It was not rock ‘n’ roll’s finest hour.

Roundup: Heating Help, Subway History, More


Need assistance with home heating costs this winter?

Connecticut’s federally funded Energy Assistance Program — administered through Westport’s Department of Human Services — offers help to low-income households.

Individuals and families qualify based on gross annual income and household size. Click here for qualification criteria. Applications are taken through Westport’s Department of Human Services.

Another option — for households that do not meet CEAP standards — is Westport’s Warm-Up Fund. Applicants are reviewed on a case-by-case basis,

Click here for more information. Call Human Services at 203-341-1050, or email humansrv@westportct.gov with questions, or to request an application.


I’m not sure what this local tie-in is, but the Westport Museum for History & Culture’s next virtual program is titled “The History and Future of the New York Subway.”

The event — co-sponsored with the Westport Library — is Monday, October 26 (7 p.m.).

Clifton Hood–  author of 722 Miles: The Building of the Subways and How They Transformed New York will discuss the New York City’s subway system,

what that says about its future, and what the pandemic may mean for it and for New York City.

To register, click here.


And finally … in honor of that strange upcoming Westport Museum program: