quaint shopping experience
store, gift shop, restaurant among the offerings
WESTPORT, Ky. (July 2005) As a child, Breck
Morgan grew up listening to the stories his great-grandparents told
about their early lives in the city of Westport, Ky. As he listened
to the tales, Morgan, who is a seventh-generation Oldham Countian, tried
to envision what the houses and everyday items that inhabited his great-grandparents
world looked like.
My mind has always worked that way, Morgan
said while seated inside the saltbox-style house at 1201 E. Hwy. 524
that used to belong to his paternal grandfather, but which is now home
to Breck Morgan Antiques. Ive always liked old things.
Now 36, Morgan says he is continually fascinated by the vast distances
many of the items in his shop have traveled.
To illustrate his point, Morgan pointed to a piece of pottery he said
was commonly found in Oldham County homes during the early 1880s.
It would be like Tupperware is to us, Morgan said. Everyday
average people had this. It came from England, and people in Westport
had it. We always think of Kentucky as being this rough frontier place,
and it was, but the people who came here had a sense of style.
Early European settlers tended to select settlement sites that were
located close to major transportation routes. With its proximity to
the Ohio River, the land now known as Westport was viewed as a hot commodity
in the late 1700s.
According to the History & Families: Oldham County, Ky The
First Century 1824-1924 (Turner Publishing), Harmon Bowmar and
Joseph Dupy of Woodford County, Ky., were the first to realize the potential
of the land. The pair purchased a 300-acre tract with the intent of
platting the town of Westport in the late 1790s.
The book states: The men placed newspaper advertisements in Kentucky
newspapers announcing their plans to cultivate a town. The original
name was to be Liberty. It was later replaced by Westport. Purchase
price of the land from Elijah Craig and his wife, Frances, was 450 pounds.
by Don Ward
Morgans' antique shop in Westport.
The store is located on Hwy. 524.
Two historical events acted as an economic stimulus on
Westport. The first occurred in 1804, when President Thomas Jefferson
authorized the purchase of land west of Kentucky. The second was the
arrival of the steamboat.
Meanwhile, a third historical event the construction of the railroad
beckoned the towns economic decline.
Today, merchants such as Morgan are attempting to position Westport
as a tourist destination. They are meeting with some success.
I think people feel like theyve discovered some kind of
secret place when they come here, Morgan said.
Indeed, they have.
Turn off Hwy. 42 and onto the narrow, hilly two-lane road that comprises
Hwy. 524 and get ready to be greeted by wide open spaces and tranquility.
Cell phones dont work in Westport. There is also an absence of
super-sized houses sitting atop one-acre plots of land. Dotted along
the Ohio River are a few larger homes, but not enough to block roadside
views of the river.
An unfettered view is one thing that attracted Will and Laura Crawford
to Westport. Several years ago, the couple and their two young children,
Wyatt, 10, and Flynn, 8, were looking to relocate to Oldham County.
After a frustrating day of house-hunting, Will suggested they take a
drive along Hwy. 524.
by Don Ward
Nachtmans Knock on Wood
specializes in handcrafted furniture.
I looked over at Laura, and her whole face changed,
The Crawfords were so enthralled with Westport that they eventually
purchased a circa 1830s home in the city.
Later, they bought the building site of the former Westport General
Store at 7008 Main St., restored the interior and re-opened the business
in October 2003.
We wanted a way to stay down in the valley, Crawford said
of the couples decision to own and operate the eatery.
Will Crawfords mother was a caterer, and the 40-year-old has an
extensive food service background that includes a stint at Louisvilles
upscale Vincenzos Italian Restaurant.
But Laura Crawford, 42, a writer and video producer, entered the venture
with far less experience.
Its been a model of learn as we go, Crawford said.
We know what a good evening for us is. We enjoy entertaining.
On a recent Wednesday night, Crestwood, Ky., residents Steve and Dr.
Cynthia Stafford dined on bison burgers and shared their impressions
of the Westport General Store.
Its very unique, Steve Stafford said. It is
away from everything.
Cynthia Stafford added: Its fresh, well-seasoned food. Plus,
you see Will everywhere, and that adds to the uniqueness.
The fact that Westport is off the beaten path appears to both help and
hinder the towns businesses.
Were on the way to nowhere, said Lea Nachtman, owner
of Knock on Wood, a store that specializes in original, hand-crafted
furniture. Ive talked to people who have never heard of
Westport, and they live in La Grange. Its (Westport) for the folks
who take the road less traveled.
Lea, 43, and her husband, Dave Nachtman, opened Knock on Wood at 7001
Main St. five years ago, shortly after moving to Oldham County from
Virginia Beach, Va., with their two children Eli, 18, and Shelby, 13.
The couple brought with them a trailer full of Leas craft work.
In addition to refinishing furniture, Lea recycles building supplies.
by Don Ward
enjoy the unique food
and old-fashioned atmosphere
of the Westport General Store.
Seated in her workshop, Nachtman described how a customer
once brought her door knobs and asked her to transform them into something
practical and artful.
She said, Heres door knobs from my parents home, and
I have four daughters, and I dont know what I want done with them,
but I want to be able to pass them on down to my daughters.
Nachtman fashioned the door knobs into coat hangers.
Its kind of fun when somebody brings us something and says,
Heres part of my past. And we give it a new life,
The Louisville native says shes a self-taught artist and jokes
that she started doing craft work because she was too cheap to buy gifts
for family and friends.
Its heartfelt and it means more to me than going to the
store and buying something anyone could get, Nachtman said.
And while Nachtmans storefront is filled with furniture that has
a definite country feel to it, she is quick to point out
that shes no Martha Stewart.
Oh, no, Nachtman laughed. Im not that driven.
For more information about Westport or these businesses, call
Breck Morgan Antiques at (502) 225-6705; Westport General Store at (502)
222-4626; or Knock on Wood at (502) 222-4200.
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