Ed Gerber preserves history, one house at a time
Ed Gerber is one of the good guys in preservation.
For more than 10 years, he patiently preserved 93 Cross Highway. The house – visible to all, on a main road – was built in 1764 by the spectacular named Eliphalet Sturges. From 1908 to the 1950s it belonged to the famous artist George Hand Wright.
Gerber grew up in New Haven and Fairfield, but spent many happy days at No. 93, after it was inherited by Frank Boylan – Wright’s nephew and Gerber’s godfather.
For 40 years, Gerber lived in Washington. But as he retired from the FDIC, Cross Highway property came on the market. He knew that if he didn’t act, this could be Westport’s next takedown.
He bought it. Then he went to work. The walls and ceilings have been painted and plastered. Maple floors have been repainted. The bathrooms and the kitchen have been redone. The home – with its massive stone construction, beautiful fireplace, and gorgeous Wright-era furnishings – has been lovingly restored.
With its status as a historic landmark, it is a permanent part of our heritage — and an important part of our streetscape.
Today, Gerber — a former member of the Westport Historic District Commission and former vice president of the Westport Historical Society — has turned to another kind of preservation: townhouses.
In his other roles, on Preservation Connecticut and administrator of historic new englandhe’s seen what happens when homeowners get help to preserve old structures.
They keep the historical links alive in a beautiful way, of course. But they also bring hope and inspiration to entire neighborhoods of the city.
So, with a very generous donation of $250,000, he established the Edward F. Gerber Urban Preservation Fund. It will be administered by Historic New England.
Owners of Connecticut’s 10 most urban sites — Bridgeport, Harford, Manchester, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Waterbury and West Haven — are eligible for $10,000 grants. They will pay for preservation-related costs, such as a new roof or architectural drawings.
Homeowners receiving grants will also receive support and guidance from New England’s historic experts in architectural history and historic preservation, ensuring projects reinforce a home’s historic significance and stand the test of time. .
It’s a win-win – for homeowners, their neighborhoods and tradespeople skilled in preservation work (with whom Historic New England can link applicants).
Gerber hopes to see a variety of applicants, living in Georgian, Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian, Colonial Revival, Three-Story, Cape Cod and Mid-Century Modern residences.
Its restored Cross Highway salt pan is miles – geographically – from urban preservation sites. But the idea – preserving streetscapes, anchoring a neighborhood – is the same everywhere.
Thanks to Ed Gerber, urban property owners now have the opportunity to preserve history as well.
(“06880” is an excellent source of information on history, real estate and much more. Please Click here to support this blog.)