History lives at 1 Compo Beach Road
Published 1:02 am, Friday, October 23, 2009
Scott and Nancy Stogel are members of a "secret club."
For the last 12 years, they have owned the historic home at 1 Compo Beach Road in Westport. The Stogels are now the latest in a long legacy of families who have had the distinct pleasure of calling the William Scribner house, their home.
"You find that people who live in old homes are usually pretty colorful," said Scott Stogel, who has enjoyed a successful career in the music industry.
His wife, Nancy, grew up in an historic home in Carmel, N.Y. "Once you live in one, you're never quite happy until you live in another," she said.
Bob Weingarten, a member of Westport's Historic District Commission who lives in an historic home in town, attests to Scott Stogel's comment. Weingarten said it takes a certain kind of person to live in an "old" home -- one built more than 100 years ago.
Despite a slow down in property transfers in town, Weingarten, who is also a realtor, said sales of historic homes have remained steady. "There's a certain person that lives in them," he said.
"All these older houses have interesting histories "� they offer a vision into the past," he added.
In many ways, it was sheer luck that brought Scott, Nancy and their daughter, Sam, to Westport. The couple had lived in Los Angeles, the French Alps and Paris for 20-plus years, and enjoyed every minute of it. But 12 years ago, Scott's business was taking root in Chicago and Sam was approaching double-digits in age. He remembers watching the film Patriot Games, seeing a beautiful home near the water in the U.S. and wanting that kind of life for his family.
The Stogels briefly considered moving to the Windy City but technology (video conferencing, etc.) allowed them to expand their search for a home. They came to Westport to look at 1 Compo Beach Road, which is the home at the intersection with Comp Road S., where the famed Minuteman Statue stands.
The Stogels recall immediately taking a liking to one of the town's landmark watering holes, the Black Duck -- "It still had that old salty feel to it," Nancy said -- but it was the house that really sold them on Westport.
"I bought this house from the curb," Scott said. "We would have never ended up in Westport had it not been for this house."
According to deed records, the house was built circa 1845 by William Scribner, who had purchased 12 acres of land, without any known structures on it, from Stephen Burritt Wakeman on Oct. 30, 1841. Not much is known of Mr. Scribner, other than the fact that he in turn sold the land, with buildings, to Henry B. Jennings on June 5, 1856.
It was in the middle part of the 19th century, during the Civil War, that Westport earned its claim to fame as a major onion growing town, as the largest provider of onions to the Union Army.
The house at 1 Compo Beach Road was believed to be located along "Onion Alley," which was also the name of a former Main Street restaurant. Nancy Stogel said the onions still pop up every year on the property.
When the Stogels moved into the house, Nancy did some research to find out more about the history of 1 Compo Beach Road. "It's interesting," she said. "I wanted to know who these people were "� I'm living in their house."
"It's just got great soul," Nancy added.
The structure's ties to American history continued in the 20th century, when, according to locals, the house operated as a speak-easy during the prohibition era. Nancy said she met a man who claimed to have been a bartender at the house during this time. He related to her that there used to be some big parties and plenty of good times at 1 Compo Road.
She did not doubt the man. To this day, the house still serves as a gathering spot for family and friends, especially during the summer months and, in particular, on the 4th of July. "It's like running a bed and breakfast sometimes," Nancy joked.
"The fourth of July is kind of ritualistic," Scott said, noting how a flurry of family and friends find their way to the house to catch a glimpse of the fireworks, or to simply park their car so they can walk to the beach.
Sam, a student at Indiana University, has fond memories of the house and holidays, too. "I suspect there might be a great many of us from the classes of 2005-08 who will always remember the times we had at this house, especially on July 4," she wrote in an e-mail.
Scott noted, "For a generation of kids in Westport, this will
always be the Stogel house."
Indeed, like those who have lived at 1 Compo Beach Road before them, the Stogels have left their mark on the Scribner house. "Our labor of love was doing the doors," Scott said. "Our contribution was to bring back the doors and hardware."
Contrary to what some may envision for a historical home, the interior of 1 Compo Beach Road is bright and spacious, with high ceilings and a 5,000-square-foot rambling layout -- one in which, Scott admits, people sometimes get lost.
"The house turns out to be a very sprawling old house," he said.
Nancy added, "It's very livable."
The sprawling nature of the house was a change for the Stogels since the Paris flat was quite small in comparison. Scott and Nancy said Sam she quickly took a liking to the new-found space, dancing all over the house as an energetic 8-year-old.
It was while sitting at the table in their sunny kitchen that the Stogels spoke of the wonders of living at 1 Compo Beach Road. They find themselves reflecting on their time there since they recently put the house on the market. With Sam at college, the Stogels are looking to simplify their lifestyle.
"We're really proud and sad to put it up for sale," Scott said.
Nancy looked out the window toward the tidally influenced waterway known as Gray's Creek and said, "I just love that view. I love nature and wildlife. I've been watching the birds and deer every day for the last 12 years."
"You feel lucky every time you are here," Scott said.
Nancy added, "Like you live in a magical house."
For more information about 1 Compo Beach Road, listed at $2,995,000, contact Michelle and Company at 454-7653.