A Brief History of Westport, CT

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A Brief History of Westport, CT

Sometimes we forget to look back and admire the unique and accomplished histories of our Connecticut towns. Maybe you’re considering building a new custom home and moving into the area. Or perhaps you’re renovating or building an addition on a special property here. Either way we thought it would be interesting to take a brief look back, to the history of Westport.

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Westport, Connecticut is a beautiful coastal town located in Fairfield County, CT. Although the area was originally settled during the seventeenth century, it wasn’t until 1835 that the town of Westport was officially born. Not long after, it gained agricultural significance, becoming the United States’ leading onion grower and transporter. Although the town prospered quickly it was not an easy task to become recognized. Tired of Westport being overlooked in favor of larger seaports, a townsperson named Daniel Nash led 130 people in a petition against the Town of Fairfield in order to finally become incorporated.

Westport has a rich history. The statue of a minuteman, on Compo Beach, honors all of the minutemen that fought on April 25, 1777, as 1,850 British troops landed there for battle. Minutemen were well-prepared militia companies of select men with rapid deployment capabilities. The British burned many buildings as they passed through, but the minutemen hid out of sight before launching an attack from the rear. The bodies of many of the men killed during this battle were buried at Compo Beach cemetery.

After the Revolutionary War, shipping took off in Westport. Being located on the coast gave the town an advantage, but in 1848, Westport’s first railroad track was built. During this time, the town saw a good deal of European immigrants arriving, many of whom still inhabit the town today. Less than a century after the town was officially incorporated, industrialization hit Westport and New Yorkers started migrating to the newly up and coming hamlet. Many newcomers moved with the goal of escaping the bustle and commerce of New York. They chose Westport for its admired reputation, proximity to New York City and its overall beauty. The Pequot Indians that were living in the area when settlers first arrived called the land Machamux, which the settlers translated to mean beautiful land.

Most of the newcomers were creative types from New York City including artists, musicians, and authors. The transition from an agricultural town to a creative haven is still embedded in Westport’s roots today. The town is now known as a reputable arts center and is where the Famous Artists School and the Famous Writers School were both built. The Westport Country Playhouse is also a well-known theatre where various plays and movies have been produced. The Westport Historical Society’s motto is, “Keeping Westport’s History Alive,” and townspeople pride themselves on their heritage.