It was my parents’ dream to make something special of the house on Woodmont Road, their first. My detail-oriented dad built a balsa-wood scale model of what the home was to be, right down to tiny plumbing fixtures. In his 3-D depiction of the future, our family of four would no longer share a single bedroom!
Their dream was bulldozed by the State of Connecticut in 1956. The scale model sat for years at the back of my closet in our replacement home across town (Milford, Connecticut).
The bulldozers were marshaled to address a problem identified in the 1930s: Boston Post Road (US Route 1) plus Wilbur Cross/Merritt Parkway could not handle growing traffic between New York and Boston. An expressway along the shore was the proposed solution, traversing Connecticut and Rhode Island. Construction of Connecticut’s highway segments began in January, 1955.1
Within a year, the State Highway Department had acquired our property by eminent domain and cut down the surrounding woods. Shortly before the scheduled Woodmont Road demolition, in December 1955, we moved to 678 Buckingham Avenue.
One day in February of ‘56, my mom dropped me off at at 92 High Street in Milford center for a Valentines Day party. The other kids were older, I didn’t know anyone and wondered why she brought me there— then left. We played Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey and Spin-the-Bottle. I had a lousy time.
While I was at the party my mother went to Woodmont Road for a last look, along with my older brother and a family friend. She hadn’t told me until she picked me up that it was demolition day. I was angry. I insisted she detour to Woodmont Rd. on our way to Buckingham Ave. Mother tried to dissuade me, but I wanted to see for myself: The house was gone. That day, when my mom kept me from witnessing the scene at the end of this post, I was 4-1/2-years old. I was in my 40s when I forgave her for excluding me. I’ve wondered what role my loss that day played in my choice of a conservation career.
The house remained present in our family long after traffic began zooming across a Turnpike bridge that, my brother reckons, sits where our house had been. I’d lift the balsa roof of my father’s model during quiet times and imagine living there, appreciating his craftsmanship. We would recall horseshoe games at picnics in the yard with extended family, an encounter with hornets in a rusty pickup, and Cousin Georgia “babysitting” my brother Rick and me in the small cinder-block house.
We told stories like the one about our dogs Boy and Foxy who hightailed 7 miles across town after one or two days at Buckingham Avenue. Had they followed the same route as the car that had brought them, just once? Former neighbors had called to say they’d feed the two, so we honored their canine impulse to go home. Our third and fourth, Susie 2 and Boots, stayed with us after the move. (Boy and Foxy make a cameo near the end of the above movie.)
My dad was allowed to enter the house the day before demolition to salvage what he could. Among the items he removed were the kitchen cabinets from over the sink and two plywood doors from the wall-hung linen closet. Father saved them for years. When Mother passed in 1997 they were still stored in the cellar at 678. Rick took the cabinets and I took the plywood doors. Later, I built the doors into a cabinet at my home in Seal Cove, Maine. Sixty years after my dad had saved them from the bulldozer, the doors became part of my own first house!
Too, I have the “Jacobson” sign that in 1956 hung by the road at our driveway (see photo above). It now hangs at my Seal Cove home.
Woodmont Road remains present still.
Woodmont Road Gallery
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ABOVE: My 2-year birthday party at Woodmont Road in Milford, Connecticut. (July 1953)7
BELOW: Demolition of Jacobson family house on Woodmont Road, during February 1956, to make way for the Connecticut Turnpike. 8
- “Connecticut Turnpike Historical Overview” at The Roads of Metro New York (http://www.nycroads.com/roads/ct-turnpike/ : accessed 08 Aug 2019).
- Dorothy Helen Jacobson née Phillips and Seth Winters, “Woodmont Rd. House Destroyed” (Northeast Historic Film Archives, Bucksport, Maine, Carl E. R. Jacobson Collection: 1956), 8-mm film. Shot with camera owned by Seth Winters; digital file courtesy Northeast Historic Film, 2019.
- Croquet, L to R: Carl “Rick” Ridgeway Jacobson, Carl Edwin Raymond Jacobson, Carl Albin Jacobsson (a.k.a. Jacobson), Ira Ridgeway Phillips, Helen Phillips, née Richards. Photo (neg.) from the Jacobson, Lindquist, Phillips Collection held by Bruce Jacobson in Seal Cove, Maine.
- Juice Stand, L to R: Carl “Rick” Ridgeway Jacobson and Bruce Edwin Jacobson. Photo (neg.) from the Jacobson, Lindquist, Phillips Collection held by Bruce Jacobson in Seal Cove, Maine. Rick also tried to sell raspberries for $5 (!) a quart—there was never any traffic on that then-rural road.
- Woodmont Road cabinet doors photo by Bruce Jacobson.
- “Jacobson” sign photo by Bruce Jacobson.
- Woodmont Road Birthday, L to R: cousin Virginia Lee Phillips, brother Carl “Rick” Ridgeway Jacobson, Raymond Kerry Lewis, aunt Virginia Phillips (née Stevens), cousin Georgia Mae Phillips, and me—Bruce Edwin Jacobson; great aunt (maternal grandmother’s sister) Elizabeth Rickards and maternal grandfather Ira Ridgeway Phillips. Photos likely by Dorothy Helen Jacobson, née Phillips.
- Demolition photographs presumed to be by Dorothy Helen Jacobson, née Phillips, or Seth Winters.
- Header Credit: Photo by Bruce Jacobson.