Restoration of Town Hall’s facade, completed last June, included repairs to the columns and other features. / Photo by Gretchen Webster

By Gretchen Webster

WESTPORT — Restoration work on the 107-year-old building that houses Town Hall has been selected to receive an award from the town’s Historic District Commission.

A 2024 Historic Preservation Award will be presented to First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker on behalf of the town within the next few months, along with awards to other residents and business owners who have preserved the historical character of their properties. The citations for other properties to be honored in the commission’s annual program have not yet been publicly announced.

Renovation of the facade of the Town Hall building, formerly Bedford Elementary School, was completed in June 2023. The $251,000 project included reconditioning the six Corinthian columns and other detail work to restore the façade.

“The columns are beautiful,” commented Wendy Van Wie, a member of the Historic District Commission, at a commission meeting last week.

The newly refurbished columns and facade at Town Hall. / Photos by Thane Grauel
Refurbished columns and facade at Town Hall. / File photo

The structure at 110 Myrtle Ave. was built in 1917 for use a school “with the help of philanthropist Edward T. Bedford,” according to the town website. Westport carried out town business, before the building’s conversion into the seat of town government, in various locations including 90 Post Road East in a building now known as “Old Town Hall” and currently the site of Don Memo and Walrus Alley restaurants. A schoolhouse in Greens Farms and a rented space over a store also had served as the site for town meetings.

Several Historic District Commission members remembered disagreements that ensued when the current Town Hall restoration project was under consideration, including when a previous Board of Finance wanted the front columns replaced with plastic pillars, and arguments about replacing the former school’s windows. 

When the building was converted from Bedford Elementary School into Town Hall in 1978 “some of us in the neighborhood put up a protest,” remembered commission member Bill Ryan.

“Windows in the original plan were going to be office type windows. A group in the neighborhood organized a committee to try to influence a design,” he said.

Town Hall on Myrtle Avenue is listed in the “Pictorial Characteristic Architecture” inventory on the town’s website. / Contributed photo

The Town Hall building is within the Westport Center National and the Myrtle Avenue State historic districts, according to the Westport Historic Resource Inventory. The inventory lists the building’s style as “neo-classical,” which often includes columns, and other architectural details popular in ancient Greece and Rome. according to the Architectural Digest.

The town’s annual Historic Preservation Awards may honor businesses as well as residences. Last year, a Preservation of a Beloved Local Landmark award was presented to The Porch at Christie’s, 161 Cross Highway, and a Legacy Business Preservation Award was awarded to Old Mill Grocery & Deli, 222 Hillspoint Road. 

Letters to winners of the 2024 Historic Preservation Awards will be mailed at the end of the month, said Donna Douglass, Historic District Commission coordinator.

Freelance writer Gretchen Webster, a Fairfield County journalist for many years, was editor of the Fairfield Minuteman and has taught journalism at New York and Southern Connecticut State universities.