Letter: 'Positives' of older homes
In the two years since I moved to Westport, I have been dismayed by the wholesale destruction of historically significant properties and their replacement with, in most cases, architecturally insignificant (except for their square footage) mega-mansions.
In the June 22 edition of your newspaper, Evi Coghlan presented what I assume is the generally held viewpoint of the real estate community regarding the issue of whether or not to buy and live in an "antique" house ("Charm and tradeoffs of old homes").
To counterbalance Ms. Coghlan's laundry list of negatives that she associates with "charming" "antique" or "vintage" houses, I would offer the following list of positives:
The sense of joining a community of like-minded neighbors who appreciate the fact that their houses are historic;
Quality construction that has survived hundreds of years;
Mature trees and gardens;
Quintessentially New England dry-stone walls;
Floor plans that may be "odd" but at least are not boringly cookie-cut.
An important incentive for buyers of "antique" or "vintage" houses went unmentioned by Ms. Coghlan. This is Westport's regulation 32-18, designed to "further the preservation of historic structures" by granting special permits to homeowners allowing them to construct new additions that are larger than zoning regulations would normally allow, and/or to convert an accessory structure for use as an additional dwelling unit or home office.
In listing her favorite "charming" homes available for sale in the Westport area, Ms. Coghlan omitted one of our most significant and threatened properties: The Henry Munroe House at 108 Cross Highway, constructed around 1805.
As my final point, I object to Westport Realtors' term "antique" houses. In my mind, "antique" equals antiquated. A better term, without negative connotations, would be historic.