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Lachat: Before the Struggle, a Home

Patch spoke with Margaret Lachat about the history of the Lachat family, when the Godfrey Road property was a farm instead of a political struggle.

Lachat: Before the Struggle, a Home Lachat: Before the Struggle, a Home Lachat: Before the Struggle, a Home Lachat: Before the Struggle, a Home Lachat: Before the Struggle, a Home

The Lachat home and surrounding property, , for most of its existence has been a peaceful family home, serene and hardly changed for well over 200 years.

"Seems like a lot of people think it's just a house," Margaret Lachat told Patch. "It's really sad."

Before Margaret's late husband Leon agreed to give his family home jointly to and the town of Weston, it was used as a working dairy farm, and was home to cows, chickens and at least one bull.

Leon's parents, Guliana and Leon, were of European descent. The Lachat family originated from Switzerland, where they were Swiss-French; Guliana's family roots were in Hungary. Leon Junior was born in the United States in 1914.

The Lachats moved to Westport from California, where Leon Sr. worked in the local wineries. After California, Leon Sr. became the overseer of a dairy farm that was located directly across from the Merritt Parkway exit on Weston Road. 

During the Great Depression, the Lachats moved their family to the property on Godfrey Road, where the residence was one of only three homes that were built by Godfrey himself, according to Margaret.

On Godfrey Road, the Lachats opened their own dairy farm, where they kept cows and chickens; the farm was the family's main source of income, according to Margaret.

The farm did well for the Lachats, and Leon Sr. offered to send money home to his parents as financial support; his parents, offended by the offer, promptly disowned him.

In the 1940s, Leon operated a milk route business that kept him close to home.

"Leon delivered to Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller," both Weston residents, according to Margaret.

Before a garage sale held at the residence several years ago, Margaret found "hundreds of [Leon's] creamery bottles," she said. "I sold so many, and gave many away, too."

Milk wasn't the only product coming out of the farm. Guliana made wine and whiskey during Prohibition, and her "lethal" varieties made her famous in Weston. 

Known locally as "Mrs. Lachat's wine," Guliana, who was well-loved locally, stored the wine in barrels in the residence's basement, where Margaret said barrels still existed up until a few short years ago.

"She was the center of the Weston community, in her time," Margaret said. "And Leon was a strict father, as most were in those days. But he loved his family, his farm and his wine," she laughed.

"They recreated it and I had some," she continued. "It was definitely strong."

Dairy farming and winemaking weren't the only activities for which the Lachats were famous; Leon Junior, an "Olympic-level" athlete according to Margaret, was an avid sports enthusiast who taught many Westonites how to ski.

"There was a lift on the property that we sold at the garage sale," Margaret reminisced. "They stopped using it after they became concerned about lawsuits."

Leon began skiing at an early age and was taught by his father. He became so skilled that he dreamed of training for the Olympics; Leon Sr. held him back because "he needed him on the farm," Margaret said.

"But Leon was a very strong man," she remembered. "He was a very interesting man, too."

Leon and Margaret met in the 1990s, while Margaret was working as a waitress in a restaurant that Leon frequented. 

"He liked me because I worked with my hands," she said. "He kept asking me out and I had no interest in him whatsoever," she laughed. "But he kept asking.

"I even changed restaurants, and he followed me," she added. "It was nice to be pursued."

She finally relented on her birthday, in January 2001. Leon was 35 years her senior.

"I thought, what's the worst that can happen," she said. "And he was such a gentleman, and I had the best time I've ever had."

Leon proposed marriage on Valentine's Day of that year, and they were married a short time later.

Margaret said that she and Leon visited the farm frequently, which quickly went downhill after the death of Leon Sr., who was gored by a bull.

"It was a friendly, family bull," Margaret said. "We think [the bull] just tossed his head and accidentally killed him. The bull was destroyed afterward," she added.

Margaret and Leon spent many peaceful hours on the farm, walking through the fields and woods.

"That farm meant a lot to the people who owned it," she said.

"We need to remember his heart history," Margaret said firmly. "Everybody's centered on this fight. It's a power struggle right now," she sighed.

"But history is important to us all," Margaret continued. "It's nice to know where we came from. It's nice to drive by a place where time has stood still. There's not that much land like that left in Weston.

"Leon was happiest on that property when it was a farm," she finished.

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