Welcome to Westport, Weston and Wilton, where you’ll be cranking out spin routines, enjoying cocktails and dinner waterside, and shopping in style in no time. To give you a jump start in living your new culture, we offer a few highlights of the area for your consideration. Sure, we’ve only skimmed the surface of the things you need to know, but when settling into a new town, some discoveries are enhanced by the slow reveal. So, go explore—especially now as we soak in the balmy breezes and sunny days of late spring and early summer! Check back in with this guide for the inside take on dressing, eating, decorating and celebrating like a local.
How to Roll
BEING QUAINT AS WELL AS FULL-THROTTLE GO-GETTERS IS OUR SUPER POWER, SO GET UP TO SPEED, PRONTO
DARE TO EXPLORE
Landmarks, historic districts and homes, and hunting for a parking spot—let the good times roll
If you love historic properties, try to meet Morley Boyd, a research consultant (cthousehistories.com) whose family roots date back to the early eighteenth century. He specializes in historic preservation and architectural history, so we asked him for a favorite historic home or great drives for history buffs. We got both. He and colleagues Wendy Crowther, Helen Garten and John Suggs suggest Westport’s newest historic asset: the State Scenic Road, the first of its kind in our community.
Begin Westport’s 1.8-mile segment at the intersection of Route 1 and Compo Road South—look for the blue route-marker in the shape of the State of Connecticut. “It was in this particular spot that a Revolutionary War conflict took place between 1,850 British soldiers and a handful of brave American militiamen,” Boyd notes. “The heavily armed invading British force, which landed at Compo Beach on April 26, 1777, was proceeding north to destroy the Continental Army’s vital supplies in Danbury when it encountered robust gunfire from members of the local militia hiding along the roadside.”
The route then heads along Compo Road South and past the entrance to Westport’s Baron’s South Park—“twenty-three acres of open space, including its fascinating 1950s mansion known as Golden Shadows—but also past dozens of historic eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses.”
A highlight is the red barn at 124 Compo Road South. “To see why the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation recently named this building to its ‘Top Ten List of Most Significant Barns in Connecticut,’ take a quick, one block diversion from the Scenic Road to see the rear of the structure. Turn right on Baker Avenue, then left on Sleigh Lane—go to the end and behold what nineteenth-century Irish immigrants did with brick and stone. You won’t believe your eyes.”
Back on Compo Road South, continue southward to the intersection at Bridge Street. Here the route turns right and crosses the historic Saugatuck Swing Bridge. “Built in 1884, this span is the oldest active bridge of its type in the nation and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.” (For more on the bridge, go to Westport Preservation Alliance’s website at preservewestport.com.)
The route concludes at “the doorstep of the revitalized Village of Saugatuck, an area that offers a wide variety of shopping and dining experiences.”
ROLL WITH IT
The owner of Westport Bike Rentals, Tracy Yost (aka The Bike Lady) is on a mission to get people biking. She offers preplanned routes, and this summer teamed up with the Two Oh Three (a local lifestyle brand) to create maps. “The Westport route is called The Town Jewel in honor of Compo Beach,” she says. See it at westportbikerentals.com/rent-ride-locations.
TAKE A BREAK
Westport Library’s parking lot accesses the Levitt Pavilion and a walkway to Westport Farmers’ Market. Also, find relaxing pocket parks at westportct.gov.
Lifelong explorer, former president of The Explorers Club and host of Born to Explore, Richard Wiese, finally settled down to raise a family in Weston—when he’s not introducing his TV groupies to exotic places and interesting people around the world. In January, his show premiered on public television. More at borntoexplore.net.
Just Click HERE
OUR TOWN’S SOCIAL MEDIA MAVENS SPREAD THE NEWS (AND NOT A FEW OPINIONS) IN A FLASH…
To be in the know, you’ll want to follow local bloggers and join online groups. Here are a few locals who chase down news around our towns:
Newcomers to Westport should check out Dan Woog’s blog 06880danwoog.com. With humor and heart, mad writing skills, and ties all over town, this lifelong Westporter knows everybody’s business: what it was, what it is and who’s involved. The site provides a new post at least once a day, some short, some lengthy. “For more than eight years, I’ve been honored to write the ‘06880’ blog,” Woog tells us. “The tagline is ‘Where Westport meets the world,’ and I’m still amazed every day how many connections there are. People, places, politics; looking back, looking ahead; current Staples students and those who graduated decades ago; arts and athletics, restaurants and stores—and, of course, people who have no idea how to park correctly.”
If you’re a foodie, check out ctbites.com. If it falls on a plate or fills a glass, CT Bites’ Stephanie Webster and team are on it. Restaurant openings, chef changes, food events, new wine room—all are covered with equally good writing and photography and then served up on a well-designed site. In short, omnivores and vegetarians can get their fill of food-related news.
When you need a recommendation for nearly anything, check out Kami Evans, the founder of Kami’s Kloud. This Westport mom is a master networker who enjoys connecting people through her social media groups. Check her out on Facebook and expect an invite quickly. She posts often about store and restaurant openings.
Another local resource is Our Town Crier (ourtowncrier.com), whose mission is to tell you what’s going on around town. This blog covers businesses, events, nonprofits and more.
You the friendly type? Right this way to Westport Front Porch. This robust FB group was started by Westporter and novelist Jane Green. Ask for recommendations or advice, or just stop by. Like a good neighbor, the group keeps things friendly.
From hard news to an announcement that Longshore golf season is open, westportnow.com has you covered. This news-and-information site has been keeping Westporters informed about the community for fourteen years. Former First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, who had a career in international journalism, is editor and publisher.
Because it takes a village to raise a child, newcomers might want to check out westportmoms.com, run by Westporters Megan Rutstein and Melissa Post. It covers such things as family-friendly events and mom-friendly new stores.
“The Board of Selectmen of the town of Weston did something very smart, which many towns could learn from,” says communications pro Bill Douglass about Weston Way, a townwide initiative to help newcomers. “They decided to tap into the deep pool of local talent, drawing on the expertise of professionals from various walks of life, to apply to join official volunteer subcommittees focused on various themes, all toward the overall goal of making the town a better place to live.”
Some on the committee have young families, are new to Weston and appreciate the top-ranked schools, down-to-earth lifestyle and easy access to New York City.
“We were thunderstruck that a town with so much going for it wasn’t really on the radar of more like-minded people.” The solution: thewestonway.com.
Marketing the town for the digital age starts with its website. “Rather than an online bulletin board for town announcements and such,” he says, “it’s more the friendly face of the town for the outside world to see.” Douglass credits resident and marketing pro Marc Karasu with developing the site, among other online initiatives. “We want anyone contemplating a move to Fairfield County, who Googles terms like ‘Best schools in Fairfield County,’ to see Weston pop up, front and center!”
How to NAVIGATE LONGSHORE
Eventually, every Westporter will end up at Longshore. Read on to see why, and know that while the entrance is a glorious, straight driveway lined with rows of trees, it eventually splits off in various directions. It’s confusing enough that newcomers may wonder if they’ve detoured to a path for golf carts (probably not). All paths here lead to something good.
Designed by Orrin E. Smith in 1922, the Longshore Club Park Golf Course is 18 holes, 5,845 yards, par 73. The course rating is 69.0, with a slope rating of 115 on Rye grass. Get your pass from Parks & Rec. longshoregolfcourse.com
Built in 1890, Longshore was originally a private estate before it was a country club. The town purchased the land in 1960. Since 1984 Rory Tagert has been proprietor of The Inn at Longshore, a popular destination for photo-friendly weddings and events. innatlongshore.com
Meet up for the sunset-watching, cocktail-pouring and steak-cutting delights of the good life. The recently opened, coast-hugging restaurant, Pearl at Longshore, has amazing views. pearlatlongshore.com
With lessons, rentals and events, Longshore Sailing School gets sailors out on the water, without the expenses of owning a boat. longshoresailingschool.com
Embrace the delights of mid-winter by ice skating at the popular outdoor, family-friendly skating rink. wpalrink.com
How to Pull It Together
SURE, YOU’VE GOT YOUR OWN STYLE, BUT NOW MASTER THE ART OF RUNWAY CASUAL FOR EVERY OCCASION
WHAT SHE’S WEARING
We may be living in the suburbs now, but we sandbox socialites and fashion divas still like to flaunt personal style.
Sleeveless or long sleeves, summer or winter, keep lots of this basic on hand.
This in-season essential, which goes with everything, should be stacked high in your closet.
We love galas, cocktail parties and any good get-together that lets us wear our party dress.
No outfit is complete without just the right amount of attention-getting shimmer, head to toe.
Men can get away with the basics, but to make a winning statement, he’ll have to up0 his game with designer fashion.
Dressing hip and casual only looks effortless. It starts with pieces that fit and flatter.
Get an edge with a power suit of fine material, perfect tailoring and personal extras.
How to SURVIVE BEING AN EX-NEW YORKER
YOU MOVED HERE FOR FRESH AIR, GOOD SCHOOLS AND THE BEACH…BUT YOU JUST CAN’T SEEM TO RELINQUISH YOUR PHONE NUMBER WITH ITS NY AREA CODE.
Moma, The Met Lincoln Center
SoHo 5th Avenue
Central Park(West Side)
Westport Arts Center Levitt Pavilion
June Grand Prix at the Fairfield County Hunt Club
How to POSE FOR A GALA PHOTO
You’ve put in hours to perfect your look, but that doesn’t mean the camera will capture it. Here, photographer Melani Lust (melanilustphotography.com) offers a checklist for acing “the pose.”
1. Hips back, tilt at the waist.
2. Hand on hip, to create space between the arm and the body.
3. Relax you hands.
4. Chin out and slightly down.
5. Smile or slightly part lips.
How to Feather the Nest
NEWCOMERS, FIT IN BY MASTERING THE ESSENTIALS TO LIVING IN THE SUBURBS: PARTIES, INTERIOR DESIGN & A VIEW
SHINDIGS & SOIREES
To conquer your house party here, do your prep work properly.
Acaterer organizes everything, but to be ready in a moment’s notice, prep your party closet. Rosinne “Roe” Chlala of Festivities Catering and Events shares her catering tricks for smashing hospitality.
Save a closet, or part of one, for party prep stuff. Know where you stored your wine glasses, special platters, favorite cheese board, candles, cocktail napkins and so on. Also, use plastic wrap to cover platters and the top of wine glasses, so your supplies stay clean. When it’s showtime, you’ll be ready.
TEND TO THE BAR
Stock your bar pantry with ingredients for your signature cocktail—the one you’re famous for. For example, Festivities created the French Kiss Margarita drink for International Women’s Day and Dress for Success. A combo of grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, limeade, tequila and a chiffonade of basil and a slice of jalapeno, she’s a little flirty and has a lot of sass. Keep the juices and tequila on hand, tend to a pot of herbs, and store jalapenos in the fridge (they last forever). If you have many guests, make a batch ahead of time and store it in a beautiful pitcher. Chop the basil and slice the jalapenos and divide them among the wine glasses. Also, keep a few bottles of your favorite wine in the pantry. When the doorbell rings, you’re good to go.
SHOW OFF A BIT
Add a touch of the unexpected to your presentations. Look in the floral design department of your favorite store or, would you believe, Home Depot or Lowe’s. Imagine how great your food will look in a vessel that was never meant for the way you are using it. Creativity goes a long way to delighting your guests—have fun!
Your dream house isn’t going to design itself: You need a creative support team. In our towns, you’ll have your pick of pro designers to help you settle on the perfect shade of white for your walls, mix of fabrics and style of furniture. Browse area design centers, like Lillian August, as well as downtown boutiques (there’s a bunch, like White Birch, in Sconset Square) for the extras. And research architects when you decide to add a home yoga studio. Of course, sign up for area house tours. Find them at Near & Far Aid and WHS.
SETTLING IN NICELY
Newcomers, living in Westport, Weston or Wilton means housing options that instantly eliminate your homesickness. Here, we love our homes, and it shows. Take, for example, this listing at 10 Minute Man Hill. Pursue your happiness.
Set on a gorgeous cul-de-sac at Compo Beach, this home offers tranquility with fun extras: cabana, theatre, gym and game room, and an easy walk to the beach and golf course.
A stone-and-shingle beauty that is custom built and designed for today’s living. At 9,282 square feet, it has four floors, lots of light, open space and a six en-suite bedrooms.
The master bedroom has a balcony, from which to see that you have arrived in paradise.
On the market for $4,495,000 (michelleandcompany.com).
How to Pamper the Palate
YOU WILL EAT OUT—A LOT. OUR TOWNS ARE PACKED WITH RESTAURANTS WITH FOOD, DRINK AND VIBE THAT HIT THE SPOT
7 Restaurants that cozy up right alongside the Saugatuck River
Upscale Italian dishes that are as satisfying as the views from the outdoor patio on a summer’s day. arezzowestport.com
Sit on the patio with gorgeous views of Westport—about the only thing that will distract you from the fantastically plated tacos and other beach-town food. bartaco.com
Feel like you’re at a private club (because you are, but welcomed) and watch the rowers from the upper patio while you dig into your fresh seafood boathouseatsaugatuck.com
A relative newcomer to Westport, Parker’s patio has amazing views of the water to enjoy with seafood or ribs. westport.parkereatery.com
Breathe in the salt air on the back patio of Pearl Restaurant at Longshore—and by all means, go at Happy Hour/sunset to kick off a splendid dinner of upscale American. pearlatlongshore.com
This French bistro, set along a riverwalk, simply charms. Warm, welcoming and excellent creative cocktails make for a convivial feel. rivebistro.com
The Whelk calls to seafood lovers the way the ocean beckons sailors, you must go. The upscale atmosphere rivals the excellent dishes coming out of the kitchen. thewhelkwestport.com
How to SHUCK AN OYSTER
Actually enjoying oysters is not important. It’s just that living here, with its long history in the oyster business, you simply need to look authoritative when you, inevitably—perhaps at a beach party—are handed an oyster to shuck.
You got this.
1. Look the hinge to see how tight the oyster is.
2. Are there bubbles? Go easy, the shell might be fragile.
3. Grip the oyster in left hand, hinge facing outward.
4. Insert oyster knife at hinge and twist.
5. It should pop open, revealing that slimy, totally New England delicacy.
6. Add a spritz of lemon with or without a dash of horseradish or cocktail sauce—or go raw.
7. Go for it or hand it to someone else to slurp down in one big gulp.
How to CHILL OUT
Loosen up with live music and good food. Here’s a sampling…
BLACK DUCK CAFE
Westport’s beloved dive bar is practically a town institution—and if it looks like it’s sliding into the river, blame the bands for rockin’ the house. blackduckwestport.com
Everyone knows this bar/restaurant that’s as “come as you are” as you can get—with live music, burgers and more. dunvilles.com
Who wants to have fun? Enjoy your favorite tunes with a live band (and great food and drinks) in what feels like an awesome roadside hideaway. littlebarnct.com
Upscale yet chill atmosphere, huge portions and live music add up to a pub for today. littlepub.com
Jazz lovers know where to go every Thursday night: 323 Restaurant & Bar. Check its website for special shows. 323main.com
SPOTTED HORSE TAVERN
This upscale renovated tavern is quite the spot for meeting up with friends or making new ones. spottedhorsect.com
How to Crush Goals
TO-DOS, NETWORKING & JUST GOOD OLD GETTING DOWN TO WORK IS SERIOUS BUSINESS; WE JUST MAKE IT LOOK FUN
COMMUTER RULES 101
The predawn alarm sounds and you’re off to ‘Newh Yawk’ City to join the rat race or build your business empire. First, you have to get there.
While you may need advice on where to park, how to get a good seat, figure out the unofficial rules of the Bar Car or maybe discourage conversation, we thought you’d want to know that DonutCrazy recently opened in the station. You’ll get good coffee and anything-but-plain donuts for Westporters—these are creative masterpieces, such as Candy Apple with apple jelly, topped with bourbon apple glaze, caramel dots, white chocolate shavings and caramel drizzle.
So, to sum up: Scream into the parking lot, run to the donut shop, hotfoot it to the platform and line up to get on the train—then just push your way through to “your” seat, or the one you call yours.
At the end of the day, you can dash off to a workout or home to see the kids, or…you could stop in for a drink at Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant. It’s run by the Siguenza family, who owns a few restaurants in Fairfield County; while Westporters were all a-flutter when they took over the old and long-loved Mario’s bar and restaurant, they were wooed and quickly warmed to the new spot. Harvest also makes a good impression for a business meeting, informal or not. You’ll spy lots of designer power ties or power pumps at day’s end, as locals settle back into Westport speed with a good meal and drinks.
A SPACE OF YOUR OWN
Places to Go When You Want to Work Anywhere But at Home
Having a home business doesn’t mean you want to spend every minute there (love you, honey!). So, if you’re looking for occasional office space—a desk with a splash of creativity and a bottomless pot of buzzy local coffee—ask for Jennifer Balin at Sugar & Olives. It’s a one-month commitment for access five days a week ($300) or ten-pack of day passes ($200); plus breakfast socials on Wednesdays.
Also check out Westport Library, which has conference rooms and plans for a video/recording space. Additionally, the Westport/Weston Family YMCA lends out its conference room (picturesque views). Otherwise, do what everyone else does: Hole up at a table at Starbucks.
How to WRITE LIKE A WESTPORTER
EMILY LIEBERT ON THE LINE BETWEEN FACT AND FICTION
Westport influences my novels by… “providing me with material. All I have to do is sit at The Granola Bar or Terrain for a few hours and listen to the chatter.”
A novel set here wouldn’t be authentic without a character who… “dresses exclusively in athleisure.”
Every good story has conflict. Westport offers such conflicts as… “which place is really the best place to get eyelash extensions.”
If an old friend moves here, I’ll tell her… “what goes around comes around. Oh, and of course beautiful beaches, excellent restaurants, stellar schools, successful people and great retail.”
NEWBIE NOVELIST ASKS: Should I use the name Westport? “Yes. It lends an authenticity to the story, and readers feel like they’re learning something about a place they may never have been.”
Should my real neighbors, friends and family inspire characters? “How can they not? Although, the intimacy of the resemblance is up to you, especially if it’s not favorable. When in doubt, deny, deny, deny. ‘No, of course the woman with the philandering husband isn’t you!’ “
Pitfalls to avoid? “Factual mistakes. Accuracy is extremely important when you’re writing about a certain place at a certain time.”
How to Train to Win
ANYTHING YOU CAN DO, WE CAN DO BETTER—BUILD A BETTER BODY, NO SWEAT
MOVE THAT BODY
No matter how fit locals are, they always want to do better. Up your mad skills with fitness options galore.
MIX IT UP, TOGETHER
Bored of the same old workout? Try classes that are always mixing up the “routines.” OrangeTheory Fitness (westport.orangetheoryfitness.com), to open at 645 Post Road, Westport, moves group classes through sixty minutes on the treadmill, rowing machines and floor/weight work—all under a coach’s direction.
BOXING AND MORE
Feeling fiesty? Try Rich Dean Boxing & Fitness (richdeanboxing.com) or step into the ring at Westport Boxing & MMA (westportboxing.com )at Calasanz Martial Arts Center. You’ll be feeling all sorts of Rocky at this Philly-style training facility. Sally Cadoux, who owns Athena Personal Safety (athenaempowered.com), has a studio here too; she also can be found at local places, including Downunder and JoyRide (Sally is doing a self-defense workshop there on May 13 for women and teenage girls ages sixteen and up). The workshops are goal-oriented, empowering and anything but boring. Participants learn about strategy—as well as how to throw a mean right hook.
BELLY TO THE BARRE
“I took my first Pure Barre class three years ago and fell in love,” says Westporter Emily Liebert. “One year later I trained to become a Pure Barre teacher, so that makes it two years of teaching—which have flown by. I still take about five classes a week in addition to that, because it’s the best way to lift and tone my entire body, stemming from my core. After about seven classes, I noticed a marked difference in my overall abdominal strength. My seat was higher; my thighs looked stronger and longer; and my arms appeared sculpted for the first time! If you like to sweat it out, Pure Barre also offers a Platform class that is so fun. Think barre meets modern-day step class with killer music.”
Find Emily’s classes at Pure Barre, 291 Post Rd E.; purebarre.com/ct-westport.
RACE OR JUST COAST
Sailing, kayaking, paddleboarding and getting out on the water isn’t as hard as it might seem—no boat ownership required. For fun or competition, consider Longshore Sailing School or Cedar Point Yacht Club to train as junior. Otherwise, learn to row at Saugatuck Rowing and Fitness Club, which boasts a nationally competitive program (as well as a newly public restaurant and Happy Hour Thursday outside). For kayaking and SUP, try Downunder Kayaking and Paddleboarding, which provides rentals and lessons, hosts competitions and arranges fun paddles (June brings a clambake on Cockenoe Island and a full moon paddle).
TRY A TRI
Get serious with triathalon training—open-water to swim (or pools at the YMCAs); hills to climb (or endurance cycling training at TriFit and Sherpa); and long roads for flat-out sprinting to the end (or treadmills at any number of gyms, from the YMCA, which has its own club for triathletes, to Intensity).
Getting your body summer ready isn’t all about sweat. Book a spa session, too!
During workouts, muscles release lactic acid, and you may feel soreness the next day. Massages help push it through and bring in fresh blood and nutrients to improve flexibility, so you can work efficiently and effectively. To decrease inflammation and help with soreness, New Beauty Wellness (1137 Post Road E., Westport; newbeautywellness.com) also recommends magnesium bath flakes and arnica by Naturopathica.
How to REFUEL AFTER A WORKOUT
You crank out a spin routine or hold a plie at barre…even toss a few tires at CrossFit…right with Westport’s fittest. So where do you go to scarf down food after? Here’s a taste of eateries and markets with fresh green juices, earthy coffee and/or food to feed your engine:
Double L Market
Garelick & Herbs
Green & Tonic
The Granola Bar
Westport Farmers’ Market
How to Name-Drop
REPEAT AFTER ME: “I LOVED YOU IN THAT!” A HANDY SHOUT-OUT TO A FEW ACTORS,WRITERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS & ARTISTS TO KNOW
Used to the bright light of international fame, these super-talented artists seek refuge in the ’burbs.
While Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman were open about calling Westport home, other stars have somehow kept the secret guarded—but not to their friends and neighbors here in Westport, Weston and Wilton. Not to gossip, but as a public service to newcomers, here are a few names to know. Not only will it give you something else to boast about to your old friends, but will also help you spot James Naughton at the farmers market, and help you play it cool.
Our towns have a long love affair with the arts. Look to the Westport Country Playhouse, Westport Arts Center, the Levitt Pavilion, MTC, all of the dance companies, writing programs, the high school theater and voice programs, Westport’s Famous Artist School and so on. You’ll hear whispers about Leonard Bernstein, Noel Coward, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lucille Ball and Martha Stewart once living here. All true. Other names of current or former area residents (in no particular order): Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Bolton, Phil Donahue, Marlo Thomas, Christopher Lloyd, Jane Green, Alisan Porter, Keith Richards, José Feliciano, Eartha Kitt, Erica Jong, Dave Brubeck and Kelli O’Hara.
The Academy Award– winning actor has over five decades of films, including The Sound of Music, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Beginners, The Last Station, The Insider, The Man Who Would Be King, and multiple projects in production.
Film, TV, stage, Naughton does it all. He won Tonys for Chicago and City of Angels, directed Our Town and The Price, and steals scenes in The Devil Wears Prada, Hostages and The Blacklist. The Westonite also helps Wildlife in Crisis.
PAUL NEWMAN + JOANNE WOODWARD
There are very few who aren’t aware of the superstars Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. From Cool Hand Luke to The Three Faces of Eve, the couple have won fans of every generation.
Locally, they mesmerized friends and neighbors with their incredible good works. You’ve heard about Newman’s Own, which started as a salad dressing mixed up as a gift for friends and soon became a mega-hit that gives back to charities. But there’s also the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, where children have SeriousFun—because despite being seriously ill, they are given a kid-friendly camp experience. Of course, the Westport Country Playhouse was greatly helped during its renovation under Woodward’s watch. We are super fans forever.
UP & COMING
Benj Pasek & Justin Paul
Justin Paul (who graduated Staples High School in 2003) and his songwriting partner, Benj Pasek, have worked together for years—but 2017 was all theirs: winning an Oscar for Best Song for “City of Stars” and being nominated for “Audition,” from the movie La La Land. Paul used that moment, accepting the award in front of Hollywood’s elite to say: “I was educated in public schools, where arts and culture are valued.” “City of Stars” also won a Golden Globe, and they wrote the music and lyrics for Dear Evan Hansen, now on Broadway.
FIND THE WORDS
Lifelong Westporter and artist Miggs Burroughs is unveiling a new installation at Westport Library (where he is artist- in-residence) on May 26—the last exhibit before renovations.
His “Signs of Compassion” is a series of thirty 16-by-16-inch lenticular images that hang in pairs. He photographed people in the community signing one word each from the Emily Dickinson poem that begins: “If I can stop one heart from breaking.”
This look at compassion, says Burroughs, is “a much needed and timely sentiment.”
He presented his project at the State Capitol (youtube.com/watch?v=tmujtgnxye).
Be sure to walk his “Tunnel Vision” in Westport, too—tunnelvisionart.com.
Hit-Maker and Westporter Nile Rodgers
Nile Rodgers isn’t just comfortable on stage; he was made for it. From his early days with Chic, to his work on megahits with David Bowie, Madonna, Sister Sledge, Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams, this record producer, songwriter, musician, composer, arranger and guitarist made that laudable transition from career to legend. Yet he finds time to show his love for his hometown of Westport. Last year he performed at the gala fundraiser for the Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts (levittpavilion.com), a nonprofit that provides free arts programming throughout the summer, and accepted the Booked for the Evening honor from the Westport Library (westportlibrary.org).
FOR THE RECORD
STARING DOWN THE HARD TRUTH OF CONFLICT, COMPLEX CALLS, HIGH STAKES AND MULTIFARIOUS STORIES, THESE LINGUISTIC AND VISUAL RISK TAKERS SEEK PERFECT CLARITY.
THE SPORTING LIFE
The sportswriter and longtime on-air commentator, Frank Deford lived in Westport. One might have spotted his lanky frame dropping off letters at the post office or dropping into a local restaurant, but you can be sure this master of language was simultaneously ruminating on the state of professional basketball or the Olympics and magically drawing parallels to politics, ethics, business and life.
You still hear his famous voice in commentaries on NPR or perhaps you’ve already picked up a copy of his latest book, I’d Know That Voice Anywhere.
Boast alert: The cover image for the book was originally shot by Bruce Plotkin for an article in Westport magazine.
Deford now lives out of town, but we fans in Westport know that this place will always be his true home—and we’d be happy to run into him.
Staples grad Lynsey Addario travels the world, photographing moments of conflict in Afghanistan, Iraq, Darfur, the Congo and Lebanon. Her work appears regularly in the New York Times and National Geographic, among other publications. The Pulitzer Prize winner was one of four journalists, including Tyler Hicks of Westport, held captive in Libya in 2011. Westport magazine caught up with her at the publication of her book, It’s What I Do (2015). The book is being adapted for a movie, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Jennifer Lawrence. Addario is friends with fellow Staples grads and photojournalists Hicks (also a Pulitzer Prize winner) and Spencer Platt (World Press Photo of the Year winner).
The late Burt Chernow wrote some forty art books and built the Westport Town Arts Collection. His wife, Ann, is a legendary artist and dubbed the Queen of Noir for her works inspired by Old Hollywood starlets. “To be an artist in Westport means having the town’s amenities at my beck and call,” says Ann, “those entities that nourish and sustain the aesthetic soul.” First cousin, Ron Chernow, is the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who wrote Alexander Hamilton, which inspired the Broadway hit.
THE NEWMAN LEGACY
“My parents’ careers and interests took us all around the world, but we always considered Westport home and wanted anyone who came here to feel the same. Whether rebuilding and revitalizing The Westport Country Playhouse, starting the first farmers’ market, supporting local organizations like the Historical Society and Aspetuck Land Trust, or even establishing the Newman’s Own office here, they always wanted to serve the community at large and ensure that Westport’s beauty, charm, history and future were well taken care of.”
—Clea Newman-Soderlund, daughter of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, ambassador for SeriousFun Children’s Network
How to Talk Old-School
TO KNOW OUR HISTORY, BRUSH UP ON THE LOCAL LORE
MINUTE MAN MONUMENT
Memorials are more than landmarks; they are our shared history (like that rough patch with the Brits)
One of Westport’s most well-known memorials is the Minute Man Monument, located at the intersection of Compo Road South and Compo Beach Road. Today, drivers know it as the landmark that leads to the beach, and runners know it from the annual Minute Man Race (celebrating forty years next April), which is hosted by the Westport Young Woman’s League, but the statue has history worth learning.
Now 107 years old, the monument commemorates the patriot resistance to British troops who invaded Connecticut and local commissioned men, self-trained colonists, of the American Revolutionary War. On April 25, 1777, twenty-six British warships brought 2,000 troops (some reports note more specifically 1,600 British soldiers and 200 Loyalists volunteers from Long Island) to Compo Beach (then Fairfield’s West Parish) and began a march to Danbury to raid, then burn, a Continental Army munitions depot. On their return they met soldiers and local minuteman militia, led, in part, by Brig. Gen. Benedict Arnold. British Gen. William Tryon led his men back to the beach, only to meet patriot marksmen at Minute Man Hill.
Most of the fighting took place at Compo Hill, and the fallen militia may have been buried at the Compo Colonial Cemetery. In the piece “Westport Minute Man Sculpture Commemorates Patriots’ Heroism,” written for the Westport Historical Society, Mollie Donovan and Dorothy Curran note: “Graves of some of the fallen minutemen from that day are marked along Compo Beach Road, across from the Minute Man Statue.”
A report by the Westport Historical Society (WHS) adds that “in 1835, Westport, including Compo Hill, became a separate town. After the town secured title to Compo Beach in 1902, the town fathers, William H. Burr among them, decided that a memorial should be erected where the battle took place. For Burr and others of his generation, the ‘minuteman’ was the ideal symbol of the ever vigilant patriot. Not regular soldiers, but charged to be ready at ‘a minute’s notice’, these militia members were local farmers and business owners.”
In 1909, artist H. Daniel Webster received the commission for the monument, which in April 1910 was cast in bronze by Tiffany & Co. and unveiled June 17, 1910 (the date chosen by the Sons of the American Revolution was the anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill).
The State of Connecticut, the Connecticut Sons of the Revolution and private residents funded the project.
Until May 29, the WHS is hosting The British Are Coming!—an exhibit, lectures and events based on the raid, now 240 years ago. Most of the WHS events took place in April—American Revolution Month—but on May 7, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., there are bus tours of the Danbury Raid, starting at Compo Beach. Reserve a spot by contacting the Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Pl.; westporthistory.org.
WHO IS HE?
“To ensure the authenticity of the Minute Man’s features, [sculptor H. Daniel] Webster invited descendants of old Westport families to pose for him, and the Minute Man’s face is a composite. Models included Judge Joseph Adams and Lewis P. Wakeman (an early Westport First Selectman). The tunic and powder [horn] belonged to the Horace Staples Wakeman family, and legend has it that Webster never returned them to their owner, a fact recalled by Horace Wakeman on his death bed.”
—From “Westport’s Minute Man Sculpture Commemorates Patriot’s Heroism,” by Mollie Donovan and Dorothy Curran
ONE FOR THE AGES
Remembering Westport Town Historian Allen Raymond
Newcomers, when the name Allen Raymond comes up in passing or you see his name at the YMCA (he was a past president and trustee), simply nod your head and smile sympathetically. In May 2014, the town lost a loyal, kind-hearted, life-long Westporter. The late Allen Raymond was, for over a decade, the town’s beloved historian. Civic-minded and philanthropic, he was known as “Mr. Westport” for his dedication to the town. The former magazine publisher helped Earthplace, RTM, Board of Education, Compo Cove Association and Friends of Sherwood Island. He also lead history tours for the Westport Historical Society.
In a video produced just four months before the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new YMCA—where you’ll find “Allen Raymond Lane”—he told viewers: “I’m rejoicing and cheering with all of you today. And when you see that splash in the pool, when no one’s around, you’ll know I’m finally revelling in Westport’s jewel.”
He passed away at ninety-one years old. (Thanks to photographer Dave Matlow for providing the image!)
NAMES TO KNOW NOW
NEWCOMERS WILL QUICKLY BECOME FAMILIAR WITH CERTAIN NAMES. HERE’S THE BRIEFEST OF BACKSTORY ON THOSE WESTPORT FAMILY NAMES.
Edward T. Bedford (1849–1931), director of Standard Oil, was a philanthropist. “By far the richest man in Westport at the turn of the century, Bedford gave the town its YMCA in 1923 (allegedly because he wasn’t allowed into the old Westport Hotel as a child), its fire station, the land for the state police barracks and underwrote the funding of Bedford Elementary School (now Town Hall) and Greens Farms School,” notes Marshall S. Berdan in Westport magazine. On his estate on Beachside Avenue, he would race his horses. Ruth Bedford, who died in 2014, at age 99, was his last surviving grandchild.
You know Jesup Green and Jesup Road, but the name to know is Ebenezer Jesup (1767–1851). He shipped locally grown wheat on his schooners. He also advocated for an east-west turnpike that would facilitate farmers’ transportation of produce to his wharf. That turnpike bloomed into the Boston Post Road. His grandson, Morris Ketchum Jesup (1830–1908), was a banker and philanthropist, was president of the American Museum of Natural History, a founder of the YMCA, and a benefactor of the Westport Library, donating land and money for the building.
Coleytown owes its name to the Coley family, who “farmed their land for 200 years,” Mary Gai, a Realtor posted on 06880danwoog.com. Their c. 1760 gristmill (a cotton mill by 1840) and barn were the center of “Coley Ville,” which “included a small green, schoolhouse, shoemaker, blacksmith, yarn manufacturer, horse stables, five Coley homesteads, and probably a couple of other shops.”
National Hall, built in 1870s, originally housed the First National Bank of Westport, two stores and a meeting hall called National Hall, according to historicbuildingsct.com. “Horace Staples [1801–1897], a prominent Westport businessman and president of the bank was the driving forces behind its construction.” Over the years, the red-brick and cast-iron building has been home to a newspaper, a furniture company, a plumbing store, the Inn at National Hall, and, most recently, Vespa before it was replaced with The Port restaurant this year. You might have moved to Westport for Staples High School. Thank Horace Staples. In 1884 he underwrote the construction of the town’s first public school, and in 1889 founded and funded the Westport Historical Society.
YOU SEE THIS, OLD-TIMERS CALL IT THAT
CAREFUL WHO YOU ASK FOR DIRECTIONS. SOME RESIDENTS MIGHT USE OUTDATED REFERENCES.
59 Post Road E.
Now: Bedford Square
Then: The Y (1923, donated by E. T. Bedford), AMIS Restaurant took over the old firehouse.
2A Post Road W.
Now: The Port
Then: The renovated 1873 building was the Fairfield Furniture Store, Inn at National Hall and, until recently, Vespa
154 Post Road E.
Now: DWR (Design Within Reach)
Then: The 1935 building was the U.S. Post Office, then Post 154 Restaurant
76 Post Road E.
Now: Restoration Hardware
Then: Fine Arts Theater
87 Post Road E.
Then: 1924 Westport Bank & Trust Co., then Hudson United Bank (see historic murals by Robert L. Lambdin)
44 Main St.
Now: Banana Republic (see preserved wall mural)
Then: Klein’s (founded by Stanley Klein, sold books, stationery, gifts and more)
90 Main St.
Now: Vineyard Vines
Then: Mobil Gas Station; The Limited
177 Main St.
Then: The Remarkable Book Shop
How to Raıse a Star
WHY DID YOU MOVE HERE? THE KIDS. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE KIDS—SCHOOLS, ENRICHMENTS AND AWESOME THREADS
Support/self-actualize your super-talented kid for stage or screen
So, you think your kid’s a star (a model, actor, singer, dancer…)? You might be right. But how to shine the spotlight on your little bundle of talent? We turned to Jill Johnson, a long-time contributor to our pages. A former model and editor, she now scouts models and shares her experiences and advice as a stage mom at modelingmentor.com/blog. Her insights below.
Living in Westport, we are fortunate to be only an hour away from Broadway. After getting some training locally—I’m a huge fan of Center Stage with Jill Jaysen, Triple Threat Academy and voice with Cynthia Gibb, Westport Dance Center and Ballet Etudes—start doing workshops and agent showcases in NYC. A Class Act NY is popular, and also offers workshops and camps in Stamford. In addition to finding an agent, get dialed in with the city’s top-notch coaches. My kids and I love Thommie Retter for tap, Kurt Froman for ballet, Badiene Magaziner for voice, and Trapper Felides for acting/singing. I have a “Child Actors” section on my blog, where you can turn for more guidance.
When it comes to modeling, consider if your child has key traits beyond being photogenic. Is she/he outgoing, independent and very patient? A shy, clingy or fidgety kid won’t get booked. As with child actors, smaller kids have the advantage and work slows down past a child size 10/12.
If your kid has what it takes, submit snapshots—professional photos not necessary—to agencies in New York via their websites or to DWKing Talent Management in Westport. Dawn Woods King develops and manages child and young adult models and actors.
Read as much as you can in the “Child Models” category on my blog at modelingmentor.com/blog/category/child-models; enter your cutie in my model search.
Is there a model you especially love right now?
I discovered Em Marie last summer in Maine, where she was performing in a benefit with my son, Jamie. She has amazing features, the graceful and lithe body of a dancer—she happens to be a talented ballerina—and also is the perfect combination of tenacious, ambitious and super nice! I introduced her to New York Model Management and they signed her right away. She won Model of the Year in my model search last year. Local kid Cooper Gusick is adorable. He is the youngest of three Gusick theater kids. He has already been on the Staples stage as Winthrop in Music Man and is sure to shine on that stage again.
Coming Up: The Staples Players present Peter and the Starcatcher, May 25-28 (tickets at staplesplayers.com).
WHEN YOUR LITTLE STAR DARES TO GROW UP
Andrew Wilk on Teen Star Power
Kids hit a dead zone around age thirteen and above 5’ 2” for Broadway, as well as for child roles with New York City Ballet, which are filled by students at the School of American Ballet. “Our neighbors introduced my wife, who also worked in television as a casting director, and me to STAPLES PLAYERS,” says Westporter Andrew Wilk, executive producer of Live at Lincoln Center. “I was completely blown away by what I saw. The Players were leaps and bounds ahead of any high school theater program I ever witnessed. The acting, singing, dancing, technical production was mind blowing. I remember seeing Rent, How to Succeed, and many other productions with a lump in my throat. I am so very proud of our community for valuing the arts in our children’s lives.”
How to DRESS TODAY’S KIDS & TEENS
OUTFITS FOR BABIES TO TEENS RUN FROM SWEET TO EDGY
Newcomers will have no trouble finding clothing stores for babies, kids and teens—no matter what their style is.
In Westport, you’ll want to check out big places like Lester’s, which has lots of options, including designers that will impress the younger-set’s in-the-know crowd. Over at Groove, you’ll enjoy searching for new outfits with personality, while your child digs through the super-fun accessories. Newcomer Pink Lemon Blue Lime has baby clothes with just the right mix of sugar and spice—nice and contemporary.
Teens will also gravitate to the newly opened Free People and South Moon Under for the Boho chic look that works in a coastal town.
Then head to Main Street to check out the other stores, like Brandy Melville and Jack Wills.
Up in Wilton, don’t miss Blue Star Bazaar, which has special events for moms and dads, alongside their collection of children’s clothes—because shopping should be fun.