190 Compo Road South – built 1878
Sleuthing Finds History of Retired Teacher’s Home
By Dave Matlow
The Westport Historical Society (WHS) has presented retired Westport school teacher Anne Bernard Pfeiffer with a plaque that designates the 1878 original date of the house at 190 Compo Road South where she has lived in for 50 years.
Bob Weingarten presents a plaque to Anne Pfeiffer while Town Clerk Patricia Strauss looks on. Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
“I always wanted to know the origin of my house into which I moved with my family in 1963,” she said. “I know my house is old, but I didn’t know how old.”
She found a source for finding this information when less than a year ago Town Clerk Patricia Strauss introduced her to Bob Weingarten, a board member of both the WHS and Westport Historic District Commission.
Pfeiffer then asked Weingarten, a research specialist on Westport properties, if he would perform the research that determines the year her house was built.
Over a period of seven months, Weingarten’s seasoned sleuthing of old records found that the house was built in 1878.
According to Weingarten, there are 257 houses in Westport that currently bear a year-built plaque which is provided by the WHS for a nominal fee that includes the research performed by him.
Pfeiffer, who said she taught English and history for 32 years at Kings Highway and Long Lots Elementary Schools and Coleytown Middle School before she retired in 2006, has worked part-time for 10 years for Strauss, the town clerk, with absentee ballots prior to elections. Pfeiffer said that she took a one-year sabbatical in 1987 to study historical preservation at Roger Williams College in Rhode Island. However, she said, she arrived at a dead end when she tried to research the house’s origin on her own.
Weingarten’s research shows that the house was first owned in 1878 by David and Mary Finnegan who purchased one acre of land from Hezekoah B. Merwin earlier that year. Members of the Finnegan family lived there until 1945 when, according to town records, it was acquired by William Guyaz who owned the property for the next 13 years.
Pfeiffer, a 1956 graduate of Staples High School, said she moved from New York to Westport with her parents in 1941. “My parents owned eight acres at 35 Turkey Hill Road North,” she said. “My father sold off six acres in 1953 for $10,000.”