Westport, Conn.- (WTNH) — It was a sigh of relief for Westport residents who fought to keep the historic Kemper-Gunn house from being demolished. Tuesday morning the icon in the center of Westport’s downtown made its way to a new address. Built in 1885, the Victorian structure stood in the way of the ‘Bedford Home’ redevelopment project and was threatened to be torn down.
Westport Resident, Julie Fatherley said “many of us started way back, signed petitions, went to many meetings to preserve this historic Queen Anne house.” After two years, preservationists and developers met in the middle and decided to move the home from its Church Lane location to a town owned property on Elm street. Third selectwoman of Westport, Helen Garten said, “this would not have happened without the Westport people coming forward and saying they wanted to save the house.”
The vintage home will also get a make over. “We are going to remodel it, make it look brand new and make it into a retail office space,” said General Contractor, Chris Moran. City leaders say a deal was made to restore the home and repurpose it for small businesses. They hope the Victorian icon will give downtown Westport an economic boom.
Mathew Mandell, the executive director with the Westport chamber of commerce said, “we are renting it out at 85 percent retail so we can give non chain stores in here to give people more of an option to shop downtown.” Residents say it’s important Westport keeps its old charm. “people who are concerned about downtown Westport keeping the character of downtown Westport are very happy with this because we are able to save an icon of downtown Westport,” said Garten. Moran says project will wrap up in March of 2015.