Historic District Commission Announces Westport's 2012 Historic Preservation Awards

The awards will be presented by Historic District Commission chair Francis Henkels and members of the Historic District Commission at a brief ceremony on Monday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in Rooms 309/307 of Westport Town Hall.


The Westport Historic District Commission has selected the recipients of the 2012 Historic Preservations Awards. 

The awards will be presented by Historic District Commission chair Francis Henkels and members of the Historic District Commission at a brief ceremony on Monday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m. in Rooms 309/307 of Westport Town Hall. 

The recipients are listed below:


Railroad Place

Eastbound Railroad Station (Rehabilitation), c. 1849

Town of Westport, Police Department, Deputy Chief Fotio Koskinas

After playing second fiddle to the westbound station which was restored some years ago, the eastbound station was suffering from a long period of deferred maintenance. The station was built c. 1849 with renovations in 1890 and 1936.  Although the station is state owned, the Westport Police Department is responsible for its maintenance and has the authority to lease the property.  .  In conjunction with the rehabilitation of the station, in a very exciting and innovative initiative, their future plan is to install a solar powered photo-voltaic 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.  We were pleased to serve in an advisory role. The station functions as a gateway to the town for both visitors as well as commuters and as such was originally built with a dignified and welcoming character.  The newly rehabilitated station restores its original features, while bringing in some new suitable tenant uses and providing this new innovative alternative energy facility.


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18 Roosevelt Road (Rehabilitation)

Colonial Revival c. 1922

William Singer

The statement of significance in the 1985 nomination of the Comp/Owenoke National Register Historic District describes this community as “an exceptionally well preserved and cohesive early twentieth century beach colony which developed between 1910 and 1940.  Together with its adjoining beach and waterfront park, it conveys a direct and immediate association with early-twentieth century coastal and resort development through its consistency of architectural style, materials, scale and plan”.  There have been many changes to Westport and in this neighborhood since this nomination. 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 c. 1808

Federal style

David Waldman

This historic house, c. 1808, was originally sited on the corner of Post Road East and Church Lane, where the Westport Bank and Trust building, now Patagonia, currently stands.  It served as a prominent feature in the town center as depicted in many paintings of early Westport.  In 1924, when the bank building was constructed, the house was moved further east on Church Lane to its current site.  Here it has continued to stand as a distinguished reminder of the character of Westport of an earlier time.  In recent years, commercial development pressure threatened the destruction of the house.  However, after extensive discussions with the HDC/ARB Joint Committee, the owners 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 that now contains 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, c.1895

Picturesque Vernacular

In memory of Theresa F. Gilbertie, Nana

Henry Gilbertie

Gilbertie family folklore has it that Antonio Gilbertie, an Italian immigrant decided to settle in Westport because it reminded him of Avelino, his home town in Italy.  Generations of family members and relatives have found shelter in this old house at 7 Sylvan Lane and/or worked there in the family business of growing things.  The one person who lived and worked here the longest was Theresa Gilbertie.  She was known as “Nana” to her grandchildren, family and friends, and it seemed to every customer visiting Gilberties.  Following the death of her husband, she worked every day for the next 40 years raising her family, tending to the gardens which she loved, 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, who said it was his hope that it remains in his family for another 100 years and beyond!  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, c. 1882

Stick style

Tri Town Teachers Credit Union

Mr. David Rich 

The Godillot Carriage House at 61 Jesup Road 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.  At that time the structure was badly deteriorated and required extensive renovation including the complete gutting of the interior.  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.  Lacking definitive evidence of the original paint colors, the owners researched and selected appropriate historic paint colors to finish the project and ensure its long term preservation. 


118 Roseville Road (Reconstruction)

International style c. 1934

Douglas McDonald

This leading edge 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.   At that time it was discovered by the Mcdonalds who were searching for a site for a radically different home for their family.  They determined that this derelict had many of the fundamental features they needed for their project.  They 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.  We understand that the house now functions using 90% less energy than a typical American home and none of the energy consumed is gas, oil or propane.  We site their work for preserving a notable example of International style modernism.  Their effort continues the spirit of technical innovation embodied by the original design.


6 Wild Rose Road (Helen Muller Award for a property located in a Local Historic District/Preservation)

Craftsman Style, c. 1919

Robert and Julie Fatherley

The Helen Muller Award for a property located in a local historic district is being given in recognition of the meticulous care and preservation of the Craftsman style house c. 1919 at 6 Wild Rose Road located in the Gorham Avenue Historic District.  This award is being given in recognition of their outstanding stewardship of the property and its contribution to the streetscape of this historically significant neighborhood.


15 Powers Court (Adaptive Reuse)

Tannery Cottage c.1835

SIR Development

Mr. and Mrs. Robert Haroun

Oral tradition claims that this structure at 15 Powers Court and the other three related houses which 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 locate on the site of the Westport Country Playhouse.  The house rests behind a narrow patch of grass close to Powers Court at the entranceway to Westport Country Playhouse.  The building was in great disrepair when SIR Development purchased it in 2007.  In addition to seeking a zoning change from a split zone to a Business Preservation District (BPD), the new owners recognized its meaningful history to the town and sought to preserve it.  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.


8 Colonial Road (Reconstruction)

c. 1927

Tracey L. Kelly

This award is being given in recognition of the reconstruction of the house, c. 1927, 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.


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