In recognition of Westporters who breathe new life into properties that define the town's heritage, the Historic Preservation Commission has singled out nine buildings and their caretakers to receive its annual Historic Preservation Awards.
The awards will be presented to the property owners at a ceremony set for 7 p.m. Monday in Town Hall.
"We're thrilled (and) very pleased to have the house recognized," said William Singer, whose home at 1922 Roosevelt Road has been restored to reflect its history.
"We like old houses, obviously," he said. "We didn't want to do a knock-down and rebuild, as so often happens down here, so we decided we'd try to make the house look as closely as it did in its heyday in the 1920s."
"I think it's important for the older houses in the area that can be preserved to be preserved," he said. "Most of the new houses that are built down here are very, very large (and) tend to impose on the neighborhood, especially in the smaller streets."
Julie and Bob Fatherley adore their 1919 Craftsman's cottage on Wild Rose Road.
"We have tried to preserve as much of it as we can," said Bob, explaining that it was expanded from 600 to 1,200 square feet in 1974, but still maintains its original character.
"We love our house and it loves us back," he said.
Henry Gilbertie's 1895 farmhouse on Sylvan Lane was originally purchased by his grandfather in 1919.
"It's been in our family forever," he said. "I can't tell you how many different relatives have lived here."
"It was under great disrepair," he said, "so I wanted to restore it sort of in its original state."
Following is a list of the award winners, with descriptions provided by the commission:
- 15 Powers Court (Adaptive Reuse), Tannery Cottage, c. 1835
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Haroun / SIR Development
Oral tradition claims that the structure and the other three related houses that face the Post Road were floated from Long Island and used to house workers of a local leather manufacturer for New York City hat trade on the site of the Westport Country Playhouse ... This award is being given for their efforts to achieve an adaptive reuse of a historic structure while retaining many of the significant exterior elements of the original building, including the original clapboard siding, roof lines and shed dormers.
- 18 Roosevelt Road (Rehabilitation), Colonial Revival, c. 1922
There have been many changes to this section of Westport since 1985 when the Compo/Owenoke neighborhood was nominated as a National Register Historic District ... The HDC cites the respectful renovation of this 1922 Colonial Revival house for its contribution to retaining and reflecting the original character of this neighborhood, in the face of economic pressures to replace it with a larger structure.
- 26 Church Lane (Adaptive Reuse), Sherwood House, Federal style, c. 1808
This historic house was originally on the corner of Post Road East and Church Lane, where the Westport Bank and Trust building, now Patagonia, now stands ... In 1924, when the bank building was constructed, the house was moved farther east on Church Lane to its current site ... In recent years, commercial development pressure threatened destruction of the house. However, after extensive discussions with the HDC/ARB Joint Committee, the owner decided that the most appropriate redevelopment of this property was to find a way to renovate and adaptively reuse this historic house as part of a larger project that includes the building that now houses Urban Outfitters. The fortuitous result is the renovated house now houses the Spotted Horse restaurant and business offices. The HDC views this as a notable example of how diligent collaboration between property owners and town review entities can result in a successful outcome for all parties involved, most particularly, for the people of Westport.
- 7 Sylvan Lane (Rehabilitation), Gilbertie House, Picturesque Vernacular, c. 1895
Gilbertie family folklore has it that Antonio Gilbertie, an Italian immigrant decided to settle in Westport because it reminded him of Avelino, his hometown in Italy. Generations of the family have found shelter in this old house and/or worked there in the family business of growing things. The one person who lived and worked here the longest was Theresa Gilbertie, known as "Nana" to her grandchildren, family and friends. Following the death of her husband, she worked every day for the next 40 years raising her family, tending to the gardens and running a business. After her death in 2003, the house and property passed to her children. It was purchased by one of her sons, Henry Gilbertie. This award is being given in recognition of his efforts to rehabilitate and preserve the family home and for the many years of dedication and care by his mother, Theresa Gilbertie.
- 61 Jesup Road (Excellence in Care) Godillot Carriage House, Stick style, c. 1882
Tri Town Teachers Credit Union / David Rich
The building was constructed in 1882 by Alexis and Julia Godillot Jr. as a carriage house for their residence across the street at 60 Jessup Road. It is a beautiful example of the Stick style, designed to complement the stylistic makeover the owners were undertaking to the main house at that time. The building changed ownership over the years until the Tri-Town Teachers Federal Credit Union purchased it in 1989 for office use ... This year the owners undertook another round of renovation work, primarily to the exterior of the building. The entire building was carefully stripped of its old layers of paint with a non-destructive chemical paint removing technique and all deteriorated wood shingles, siding and trim were replaced to match the original.
- 118 Roseville Road (Reconstruction), International style, c. 1934
This house was designed in 1934 in the emerging "International style," a stark white cubistic composition. It is believed to have been designed by Francis Barry Byrne who practiced architecture in Chicago and New York and had been a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright early in his career. It was the Westport home of the famous and eccentric pianist, composer, comedian and actor, Oscar Levant. The house had a series of owners over the ensuing years but by 2010 had been empty for three years, was apparently badly deteriorated, and was probably a likely candidate for demolition. The Mcdonalds determined that this derelict had many of the fundamental features they wanted and undertook an extensive reconstruction incorporating concepts of the International Passivhaus Institute for extremely well-insulated and energy-efficient homes. They achieved this impressive performance while still retaining the basic massing and character of the original design.
- 6 Wild Rose Road, Craftsman style, c. 1919
(Helen Muller Award for a property located in a local historic district)
Robert and Julie Fatherley
The Helen Muller Award for a property located in a local historic district is given in recognition of the meticulous care and preservation of this Craftsman style house the Gorham Avenue Historic District. This award cites their outstanding stewardship of the property and its contribution to the streetscape of this historically significant neighborhood.
- Railroad Place, Eastbound Railroad Station (Rehabilitation), c. 1849
Town of Westport, Police Department, Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas
After playing second fiddle to the westbound station in Saugatuck, which was restored some years ago, the eastbound depot was suffering from a long period of deferred maintenance. The station was built in about 1849 with renovations in 1890 and 1936. Although the station is state owned, the Police Department is responsible for its maintenance and has the authority to lease the property. Two years ago, Chief Dale Call, Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas and Building Official Steve Smith joined efforts to rehabilitate the building. In conjunction with the rehabilitation is a project to install a solar-powered, photovoltaic charging station for electric cars. The HDC is particularly appreciative that, early in their planning process, they consulted with us for input on best practices for historic rehabilitation ... The newly rehabilitated station restores its original features, while bringing in some new suitable tenant uses and providing this new innovative alternative-energy facility.
- 8 Colonial Road (Reconstruction) c. 1927
Tracey L. Kelly
This award is given in recognition of the reconstruction of the house, with sensitivity to the mass and scale of the original streetscape of the historic Greens Farms Congregational Church neighborhood. It is an example of how a small, modest house can be successfully preserved, expanded and adapted to the needs of a modern family on a small parcel of land. Rather than being demolished and replaced with a new oversized house, the owner demonstrated sensitivity to the scale of the existing neighborhood.