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Jesup Green

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Jesup Green was a part of a privately owned estate before it was acquired by the Town of Westport and formally named Jesup Green. The estate, known as the Godillot Estate, belonged to Dr. Ebenezer Jesup, a surgeon in the Revolutionary War, and his son, Major Ebenezer Jesup, an important local grain trader. The estate bordered both sides of Jesup Road and included a stately home, carriage house, servants' quarters and seven acres of elaborate gardens and lawns sloping to the Saugatuck's Back Bay. The Jesup-Godillot House (1804; listed on the National Register) is representative of the elegant estates that existed in this area during the Victorian period. The area has changed considerably since then.

When the town of Westport acquired the estate in 1939 the open space was formally named Jesup Green. The old Town Hall (1908; listed on the National Register) then bordered the present green. A tavern, the Open Door Inn, was also located near it. There is some evidence that the space was unofficially used as a public gathering site prior to the time it was purchased by the town because of its central location. The green served a commemorative function as well as being the terminus for the Memorial Day parade.

In the 1950s, the area around Jesup Green began to change. The Town extended its holdings by using landfill to the south into the Saugatuck River which moved the shoreline of the river away from the Jesup-Godillot house. In 1951, the town moved out of the Town Hall and into 60 Jesup Road, which was used as the offices for the town controller, engineer and public works officials. The carriage house on the estate was used as a shop and garage by the Public Works Department. In 1952, a police station was built on the east side of the green on the slope that looks down to the river.

In 1978, the Town of Westport consolidated its offices and departments into the Bedford School on Myrtle Avenue. The commemorative function of Jesup Green and its role as a public gathering place for town events were also transferred to the new Town Hall Green. The historic buildings on the Godillot Estate used by the town were sold and are used as offices. They are included in the Jesup Road Historic District which borders the green but does not include it. In 1985, the new Westport Library was constructed on the landfill, bringing some activity back to that area.

The Jesup Green marks the center of civic activity in Westport prior to the time it was moved to its present site in 1985. Presently, there is little around the green that calls attention to its historic role in the community. Its integrity has been virtually destroyed as it appears to be little more than a forgotten greensward in the middle of asphalt parking lots near the banks of the Saugatuck River.



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