Save the 1813 Captain Knap House at 482 Brewster in Black Rock
Historic Black Rock is an enclave on the shores of Long Island Sound and has been within the boundaries of the City of Bridgeport, CT since 1870. However, since its founding as a community in 1644 by Thomas Wheeler until 1870, it was part of Fairfield, CT. Since its founding up until modern ship building in the 20th Century when modern ships required deeper harbors, it attracted ship builders and sea captains because of the deep harbor, making it one of the best harbors in CT and sparking an international shipping and trading industry in Historic Black Rock.
One of these sea captains was Captain Ebenezer Knap. According to the local history book titled “History of Black Rock 1644-1955”, in 1813 he “built a house at what is now 482 Brewster Street as prosperity was returning to Historic Black Rock after a disastrous trade embargo during the War of 1812 had been removed. In form, it is like the traditional Colonial “half house”, but in construction and decoration it belongs to the Federal Era. The framing is post-and-beam as in earlier buildings, but the timbers are significantly smaller and contribute to the lightness of scale. The cornice is decorated with a reeded moulding, and the gable encloses the earliest known Black Rock fan window. The doorway is the highlight of the façade, with its elaborate mouldings, sidelights, and crescent-shaped leaded glass transom.
The Captain Knap House has stood through 201 years of protecting generations of residents from blizzards & hurricanes within its still solid roof, walls & floors. It has stood in silent witness to Black Rock men marching off to war, and has seen the gradual transformation of Historic Black Rock from a rural, ship building/seafaring/farming, Puritan/Congregational community into a suburban, residential, multi-faith community.
And now, the Captain Knap House is beginning a new (and hopefully not the last) chapter in its long history. On July 11, 2014, the Captain Knap House was bought by a next door neighbor. A mere 11 days later, the new owner applied for demolition, intent on destroying a part of Historic Black Rock. Sadly the house lies just outside the boundaries of the established Historic District, and so he was granted the permit with a 90 day stay, and no obligation to inform the Community of Black Rock of his intent. Once the 90 day stay expires on October 25, 2014, he can freely demolish the building. The owner has already removed all the windows since July 2014 leaving the house open and vulnerable to the elements, vandals and potential arsonists. Once the new owner demolishes the Captain Knap House, it is his intention to replace it with 2 vinyl clad duplexes which would not fit the character of the neighborhood (other reports are he wants to make it a garden for his private use). The Community of Historic Black Rock does not want this to happen, and wants to preserve the Captain Knap House so that Historic Black Rock can truly be “Historic” as it is part of the charm that attracts people to live in Historic Black Rock.
The current owner has stated he is willing to sell the house to whomever makes him an offer of more than what he paid for it ($121K) before October 25, 2014, otherwise he will demolish as planned because he is determined to make a profit. He has already been quoted as saying “It’s all about the money”. So if anyone wants to save the house by making an offer, PLEASE DO SO!!!
We the Community of Historic Black Rock asks that you sign this petition in an effort to help change the mind and will of the current owner of the Captain Knap House, and likewise asks that you feel free to pass this petition nation-wide. Thank you!!!