Just Who Were the Bankside Farmers?

Nearly four centuries ago, the Bankside Farmers were a thing.

In the fall of 1648, five men from Fairfield — Thomas Newton, Henry Gray, John Green, Daniel Frost and Francis Andrews — acquired land from the Native American Machamux tribe, on what is now Beachside Avenue and Sherwood Island. They earned the “Bankside” nickname, because of their location on the banks of Long Island Sound.

What was originally open fields, ponds, streams and tidal salt meadows, full of shellfish and wild grain, soon became farms. The Bankside quintet — mostly God-fearing, upright Puritans (except Newton, who traded liquor and gunpowder with both the Indians and the Dutch) — prospered. They were helped by slaves, and cheap Machamux labor.

In 1666, the area — called “West Parish” — became a separate entity. The name was officially changed to Green’s Farms in 1732. By that time a church of the same name, which also served as the center of the town’s social, economic and political functions, was already two decades old.

The Bankside Farmers’ original settlement grew steadily westward. Farms sprung up on Compo Road (the Indian name Compaug meant “the bears’ fishing ground”), then along the Saugatuck River. (That name meant “outlet from a tidal river.”) Eventually, development spread north, particularly on the west bank of the river.

By 1835, residents had grown tired of being part of three surrounding towns: Fairfield, Weston and Norwalk. Wherever they lived, they had to travel far for official business. They wanted to control their own destiny. That year, the town of Westport was incorporated.

Over time, the Bankside Farmers were lost in the mists of history. Soon though, their name will live again. This time, it’s on the west bank of the Saugatuck River.

KMS Partners is proud to announce Westport’s newest residential project. Twelve luxury condos are rising on Wilton Road, at the former Save the Children site. It’s just north of the brand-new office complex — and only a few steps from the exciting Meatball Shop/OKO/ Bartaco restaurant scene in and around National Hall.

“Bankside House” will be Westport’s finest condos. Designed by the innovative Roger Ferris + Partners architecture firm, and built by award-winning developer David Adam Realty (think Bedford Square), they’re a unique opportunity to have all the conveniences and beauty of a home in downtown Westport — without any of the maintenance.

The four-story building features two- and three-bedroom homes. The open layouts and oversized windows of each light-filled residence frame both the river, and Westport’s charming town center across the way.

Each Bankside condo offers private outdoor living space, and river views. Of course, all include the luxury finishes and craftsmanship of a custom Roger Ferris home.

Three units have been listed, at prices ranging from $2.599 million to $3.450 million. See floor plans and other information for the 2-bedroom penthouse, 3-bedroom northwest corner Unit 2C, or the 2-bedroom Unit 3C or the full Bankside website . All 12 condos will be completed by 2021.

Westport has come a long way since five farmers wandered over from Fairfield. But after nearly 400 years, we have not forgotten the importance of living “bankside.”

(Want to learn more about the Bankside condos -- and many other amazing Westport properties? Contact us at 203.295.4375)

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Hummock Island Oyster Farm Tour ~ Westport, CT


I recently spent a wonderful Friday evening, watching the sunset from the iconic little grey house on Hummock Island in Westport.  Where’s that you might ask?  It’s the little grey house, with the white porch in the middle of Sherwood Mill Pond.  It’s also command central for the Hummock Island Oyster Farm, right here in Westport.  The Northrup Family owns the 82 acres of the Mill Pond, and has since 1857! In fact, they’re the largest land holder in Westport. It all began 1741 when the pond was awarded as a grant from the British King and a hundred or so years later a house was erected on the tiny island which would serve as a residence for the “oyster guard” who kept watch over the surrounding waters.

The tour begins with a short boat ride out to the house. You'll learn all about farming these bivalves from the Northrups & how they’re taking this ancient craft of harvesting oysters into the 21st century.  They’ll even teach you how to shuck an oyster — which is as hard as it looks! If you enjoy slurping fresh briny oysters right out of the water, while the sun sets in front of you, this is an event you won’t want to miss.  Tickets can be purchased through their web site, http://www.hummockisland.com/. They’re even on Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/hummockisland/

* 2 thoughts: Wear shoes you don’t mind getting wet & don’t forget to pack your own libations.     

Cheers! ~ Mary Ellen Gallagher