Town Beach at West Island
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"My father built our cottage on West Island in 1947. I remember how they used to climb the telephone poles every night to turn the lights on. We lived on Cottonwood Street by Fisherman Road. One of the first cottages there." Joyce Hart-Klunk
150 Cottages Built in 3 Years On Fairhaven's West Island
(above shown actual size:) At one point during this time a guard shack was posted at Causeway Road to West Island.
A watchman would only allow motorists passage to the exclusive Fairhaven Estates if the car had this badge attached to its bumper..
This badge belonged to MLBaron's father-in-law Antone Teixeira. who's mother had one of the first cottages built by him on the island at 47 Alder St. (below-right)
Middle row (left to right) Antone Teixeira, Evelyn Gilchrist and her mother Annie
These two cottages haven't changed much since they were built in 1952
49 Alder St (above) Summer cottage still getting some finishing touches
The Summer of '52
The Summer of '52
Antone Teixeira and future wife to be, Evelyn catch the summer breeze on the front lawn of her mother's cottage he just built with her dad at 47 Alder St. This was one of the first cottages on West Island. Two years later Hurricane Carol struck on Aug 31, 1954. Many houses (photo below)were devastated or destroyed on this street, but the little cottage went unscathed. A West Island Hurricane Carol Photo Album is always being added to.
In 1954, New - West Islanders Were the First to Experience a Major Hurricane Here
By M.L.Baron westislandweather.com 6/14/2011
WEST ISLAND: With the hurricanes of 1938 and 1944 still fresh in local minds, new West Island residents who began to build summer cottages on the mostly uninhabited island in the late 40's had nobody to tell them what previous hurricanes were like out here. In fact, most of those who bought cottages through developers of Fairhaven Estates in 1952, were from out-of-town inland areas. So many were already oblivious as to what hurricanes could do to coastal property in the first place. On Tuesday, August 31, 1954, they found out.
The island never had this number of structures before that had endured prior hurricanes. In the first 2 years much of the planned 150 summer cottages were already cluttered side by side along the much sought after waterfront lots of Alder and Balsam Streets. (on the west facing side of the island.) Most of this area is about 3 feet above sea level.
Carol, the first named hurricane to impact the northeast arrived Tuesday, August 31, 1954. The Category 2 hurricane brought in tidal surges over 10 feet accompanied by 110 mph winds. Just 10 days later Hurricane Edna struck on September 11th. Edna caused some more chaos to an already dazed SouthCoast. However, the worst damage was more localized to Cape Cod.
Comment from property owner 47 Alder St: PAT LAFFAN
I JUST FOUND YOUR WEBSITE..AND ENJOYED THE PIC OF FAIRHAVEN ESTATES AS I HAVE OWNED THE COTTAGE ON ALDER ST FOR 20 YRS .I BOUGHT THE COTTAGE IN 1991 MAY AND IN AUG 1991 HURRICANE BOB ARRIVED.THANK GOD HURRICANE IRENE WAS NOT AS BAD.I KNEW A LOT ABOUT THE COTTAGE THAT IT SURVIVED THE 1954 HURRICANE.
AS I HAD AN AUNT ON BALSAM ST.I ALSO REMEMBERED ANNIE GILCHRIST ON THE ORIGINAL DEED. I MAY ALSO HAVE MET YOUR MOTHER -IN -LAW QUITE A WHILE BACK AS SHE WAS WALKING AND SAID SHE USED TO OWN THE HOUSE AND ALSO A HOUSE ON COTTONWOOD ST WITH HER HUSBAND AND SHE SAID SHE WAS CRYING ONE DAY AFTER COMING DOWN TO CUT THE GRASS AND CLEAN-UP SO HER HUSBAND SAID THEY SHOULD SELL IT.
HE WAS ANTONE TEIXEIRA WHO HELPED BUILT THE HOUSE IN THE PHOTO IN 1952.THANKS FOR THE VINTAGE PHOTOS OF YOUR FAMILY AND PS:
LOVED THE DOG ON THE CHAIR WITH THE FAMILY ON THE LAWN AND THE BEACH PHOTO ON THE LAWN.YOU REALLY HAVE A WONDERFUL CONNECTION WITH WEST ISLAND
Please tell your father -in -law (antone) that he build a wonderful house with fir hardwood floors that are still amazing .i love the vintage cottage look and have even kept the original kitchen cubbards. i would never tear down in my lifetime as you know the house next to me was demolished this past wk.
MUGS, STEINS, POST CARDS, APPAREL HATS, CAPS AND EVERYTHING WEST ISLAND. WE SHIP WITHIN 24HRS.
1952 Standard-Times Article continues below:
With official opening of the Summer season on Fairhaven's West Island this weekend, cottagers are returning to an island vastly different from what existed when the first houses began going up there 3 years ago. Already there are some 150 cottages on the island, varying from neat little two room cabins to Winterized homes with 3 bedrooms.
The island, once accessible only by boat and with no means of communication or any other modern conveniences, now boasts a telephone line and it's own electric plant.
(above) This somewhat blurry photo shows a large sign displayed at the corner of Route 6 and Sconticut Neck Road. The advertisement was for Fairhaven Estates on West Island in 1951. The structure in the background, known as "The Poor farm" was constructed around 1900 and had gardens and accommodations for the needy families in town. Soon after this photo was taken about 1951, the building was torn down and a bowling alley was built. Atlantic Ten Pin Lanes remained on the site for almost 50 years when it was eventually torn down and replaced by a large supermarket chain.
John H. Buttrick, treasurer of Fairhaven Estates, Inc. developer of the West Island resort and treasurer of the West Island Power Company, who announced the opening, anticipates a very good Summer in the resort colony.
(above) After WW II West Island's popularity flourished as a summer getaway. In the mid 1940's West Island (the entire island) was up for sale for $50,000. Mostly composed of summer cottages, some were converted from sheds, chicken coops, and almost any structure one could haul over the narrow causeway. This cottage at 14 Little Neck Rd. was once a small restaurant in New Bedford's North End located near Baylies Square. The tell tale octagonal windows are still in place today.
Development of the island is proceeding faster than we expected Mr. Buttrick said we expect to make even greater strides this year.
Most roads on the island have been graded since the Spring thaw and rains, Mr. Buttrick said, and the rest should be in shape within a week. One road, a continuation of the causeway extending easterly into the island has been hard-surfaced. We expect to hard-top several of the other roads on the island that get heavy use before this Summer is over," Mr. Buttrick added.
Development of West Island as a Summer resort represents fulfillment of plans and dreams of numerous persons dating back more than 100 years. The present project however, goes back four years to the day in April 1946 when the title to West Island, Gull Island and Long Island was transferred to Fairhaven Estates.
West Island (Town Beach in foreground) June 1946. Looking northwest towards Little Bay, East Fairhaven. and Mattapoisett. MLBaron archives
Started in 1947
First stone in a causeway connecting the islands with the mainland of Sconticut Neck was laid March 21, 1946. Construction of the first dwelling began the following March.
During the remainder of 1947, approximately 40 cottages were begun on the island, which contained only a 150 year old farmhouse and barn when the corporation acquired title to it. The late Arthur F. Gobron of Watertown was the guiding spirit of the project when these steps were taken. With continued new building on the island and occupancy of completed cottages, the Summer population there grew and last season a West Island Improvement Association was formed.
At the organization's first annual meeting this Spring in the Taunton Inn, plans for this Summer were discussed. Among projects adopted were development of a playground on a 60,000 square foot tract donated to the association by the corporation and engaging a lifeguard for the island's principal beach at the foot of the causeway. Instigated by the association, a firefighting unit was organized on West Island last Summer, and a truck is available to aid the volunteer firemen in the event of an emergency.
Telephone service was established to the island on an emergency basis last Summer. Mr. Buttrick said officials of the New England Telephone and Telegraph Company office here have promised permanent service will be established as soon as possible this Summer.
New Bedford Standard Times
June 29, 1952
200 Families Live on Island
Unoccupied 5 Years Ago
Two hundred families now occupy portions of a 740 acre wooded tract that until five years ago had been unoccupied since Indian days. West Island, on the tip of Sconticut Neck, Fairhaven, once was a Summer resort of the Indians, who reached it by canoe to pitch teepees for the Summer season. Today it's growing population reaches it by auto and enjoys most conveniences of urban living as well as the seclusion prized by the Indians.
Fairhaven Estates, the corporaton that developed the island resort, expects an eventual population of 600 to 700 families.
Only five miles from New Bedford, and easily accessible from such heavily populated areas as Pawtucket, Fall Riven and even Boston. West Island is convenient to persons to whom long distances between their homes and a place for weekends and Summer sports and rest would be a definite disadvantage.
A few years ago the spot was isolated, accessible only by boat. Now thanks to the Fairhaven Estates Improvement Association it is connected to the mainland by a two lane road.
Originally it had it's own private but unreliable and somewhat expensive power plant. Today it is served by the New Bedford Gas and Edison Light Company. Telephone connections are available to all and the island has it's own restaurant and market and regular milk deliveries.
The Improvement Association has organized a volunteer fire department and has acquired modern fire fighting apparatus for the colonies protection.
Safety for children, too, has been considered in the association's planning. Life guards are on duty and the water of Buzzard's Bay are warm and free from dangerous undertows. Ten lots have been set aside as children's playground and traffic hazzards on the island are limited as it is removed from main lines of travel. Causeway Road became an accepted street by Town meeting voters in 1957.
Though the opportunity for seclusion is one of the features of West Island, no one need remain lonely. Community spirit is highly developed and events like clambakes and frankfurter roasts are well attended. The beaches can be used only by the residents.
The most recent improvement to be put into effect has been oiling of the roads to make them dust free. At this time attention is being focused on 40 new lots that have been made available for occupancy near the West Island Lighthouse.