Stephen Willcock House
Westport Town Farm • Westport
Rehabilitation & Restoration
Built for Stephen Willcock in 1725, this house sits on 40 acres of farmland. In 1824, the town acquired the property for use as a shelter for the town’s paupers, the infirm, and transients. The property served in this capacity for more than a hundred years, but fell into disrepair beginning in the latter half of the 20th century.
To preserve the building, the preservation team closely followed the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation. Unsafe stairs were deconstructed and reassembled with existing treads. The crumbling fieldstone foundation walls were repointed, and wet basement conditions were remedied with trench drains that serve an underground cistern, which captures rainwater for use in the garden. Hand-wrought hardware made by a local blacksmith replaced missing elements. Rotted sills and timbers were replaced in-kind. Original woodwork and masonry were preserved throughout the house. The team addressed universal access with a new, accessible route into the building including parking, entry, and a bathroom. The south apartment of the farmhouse was adapted into office space for The Trustees of Reservations and the Westport Conservation Land Trust, and a 99-year lease from the town ensures that the property will no longer be vulnerable to changes in the economy or municipal budget. The Trustees of Reservations established public access and a trail network and opened a community garden on the property, which has contributed hundreds of pounds of food to local food banks since 2008. In the summer, the Conservation Youth Corps program hires Westport youth to work the farm and engage in learning and recreational activities. The rehabilitation of the Stephen Willcock House has preserved not only the building, but also the property’s nearly 300 years of associations with agricultural activity in Westport.