top of page

The Lordship Improvement Association: The Early Years, 1924 - 1957

How the all-volunteer LIA shaped Lordship with roads, trees,

parks and protections for the community and its residents


An early focus of the LIA was creating and improving the condition of Lordship's roads - including street signs, tarring and oiling. Above right: Pauline Street. But one result was contending with speeding cars on improved roads! (Graphic from the LIA's 2022 'Lordship History Story' Calendar)

lia history - planting trees 1928.jpg

Another LIA priority was replacing and planting new trees and shrubbery. Poplars and maple trees were top choices - including purchase of 35 maple trees planted mostly along Stratford Road in 1930. With that was a campaign to eradicate destructive tent caterpillars.


In 1928 the LIA petitioned the Town for a motor propelled 750-foot-hose fire fighting apparatus. Later, the LIA worked with the Lordship Volunteer Fire Department to support reconditioning of the fire engine including pneumatic tires. (Graphic from the LIA's 2022 'Lordship History Story' Calendar)

Russian Beach2.JPG

In 1932,  "all night parties" at Lordship Beach (now Russian Beach, viewed here today) "which produced hours of noise and bushel baskets of debris" prompted the Lordship Park Association to post signs "to prevent further misuse of the area." There was talk of making the area a "Pleasure Beach"- style Town park with facilities. In 1957, "in an effort to end rowdy parties" the LIA closed the 8-acre Russian Beach to non-residents of Lordship.

Lordship Map Illustration, Circa 1957.jpg

In the 1940s the LIA led a fight against the sale of liquor in Lordship, including objecting to Cornelius Ahern's "proposed restaurant drinkery" on Stratford Road. After years of court and Town board battles, the Ahern's Dairy Bar Playland amusement park opened in 1949 (see park at top of circa 1957 map).

Lordship Park Assoc plaque on bench.jpg

In 1938, the Lordship Park Association deeded the current public area of the Lordship Bluffs to Lordship resident and former Town Manager Don Sammis "to be held in perpetuity for the people of Lordship Manor." And he paid taxes on the property until ...

... 1957, when the property - including Russian Beach, the nature area, trails and great lawn - was deeded to the LIA to maintain and preserve for the citizens of Lordship. (Will Bileca drone photo)

By Tom Halverson
Lordship Historian


The first record of the Lordship Improvement Association is from an article in the Bridgeport Farmer, September 11, 1915, mentioning the new Lordship Political Association forming to join the Lordship Improvement Association and the Lordship Proprietor’s Association in serving Lordship.


No further mention or records of the LIA can be found until 1924 …


1924: Declaring themselves disgusted with the washboard road between Lordship and Bridgeport, nearly 25 people met at the Lordship Firehouse on May 14 and formed the Lordship Improvement Association with the idea of taking some action to improve that piece of road.

Harry Van Yorx was elected temporary chairman, and a committee of three was appointed to draw up a constitution and bylaws. The committee consists of F. C. Lathrop, Harry Van Yorx and G. H. Ruther.


More than 20 people signed up to donate sums for the improvement of the road.


The re-formed LIA would spend the summer working with the Town of Stratford to improve several roads, and by the end of July had to contend with speeding cars on the improved roads.


On September 18 the temporarily organized LIA decided to become a permanent organization after November 1, 1924. On November 14, the executive board of the reorganized LIA elected the following officers: President Harry Van Yorx; vice president Harry Mudgett; recording secretary Robert Fisher; financial secretary Charles Franz; treasurer

G. E. Ruther.


It was voted to petition the Town of Stratford for two more lights for Lordship, to accept certain roads here for permanent resurfacing, and to make Lordship a separate voting district.

The LIA’s original aim was "the creating and carrying out of these procedures which best tend to advance Lordship as a whole.”


1925: Harry Van Yorx would resign from the LIA board to fill the vacancy on the Stratford Town Council to replace the late Herbert Sniffen. Louis Nunnold replaced him as president of the LIA.


Through the work of the LIA, a number of streets in Lordship were accepted by the Town. These were Gorham Street, First Avenue, Pauline Street, Hillside Street, Ocean Avenue, Margherita Lawn and Lordship Road, between Ocean Avenue and Stratford Road. Stratford Road was extended from Second Avenue to Fourth Avenue.


1926: The LIA cleared the park in Lordship Center, trimmed the grass and painted and installed a new flagpole, courtesy of the Jacob Brothers with volunteer labor.


1927: The LIA installed new street signs, planted trees, oiled the dirt roads and started a campaign against the tent caterpillar. The LIA also petitioned the Town for a new brick school to replace the wooden four-room school.


1928: The LIA activities included putting up street signs, taring and oiling of roads, planting of trees and shrubbery, the disinfection of tent caterpillars, and innumerable other benefits.

The LIA also petitioned the Town for a motor-propelled 750-foot-hose fire-fighting apparatus.


1929: The LIA bought Silver Maple shade trees at $1.35 each for Margherita Lawn and Gorham Street (Washington Parkway).


1930: The old steps at the foot of Pauline Street were replaced, and a new walk made to the beach.


The LIA sponsored the flag raising ceremony at the Triangle Park in Lordship Center on Memorial Day with the Boy and Girl Scouts. That year, the LIA also:


  • Mowed the grass at the central park and kept it in good shape, and also cut grass at Gorham Street (Washington Parkway) and Margherita Lawn.

  • Had a new metal road sign made and placed at the Triangle Park.

  • Purchased 35 maple trees and planted most along Stratford Road.

  • Improved the park space at Lordship Beach and planted five poplar trees there.

  • Cut grass and cleaned up space on the Bluffs.

  • Worked with the Postmaster for house-to-house delivery and had house numbers assigned.


1931: The LIA had Lordship set up as the Tenth District with its own Councilman. The organization also:

  • Had the Town correct the grade at Prospect Drive and Stratford Road.

  • Convinced the Postmaster to begin house-to-house mail service and had mail collection boxes placed at different points in Lordship.

  • Replaced 13 dead trees with new ones.

  • Began the discussion of a new schoolhouse in Lordship.

  • Installed a bench for bus patrons at Gorham and Pauline Streets.


1932: Gorham Street was renamed Washington Parkway in honor of the nation’s first president’s 200th birthday. The LIA also:

  • Worked with the Town to use the unemployed to build or widen streets.

  • Washington Parkway was improved to a fine boulevard to the beach with a two-way drive.

  • Had the Town add curbs to the Beach Drive park and plant 17 trees in Lordship.

  • Victoria Lawn was converted to a two-way street with a median in the center.

  • Lordship Road was converted into a two-way street and a center median was begun.

  • Rose Park (today’s Greg Ackley Memorial Park) was cleared of brush, filled, roughly graded and planted with trees to make a nice park at this entrance to Lordship.


The LIA also worked with the Lordship Volunteer Fire Department to support the reconditioning of the fire engine including pneumatic tires.


The LIA and Lordship PTA had the portable school building on Crown Street extensively reconditioned with a new roof, outside shingles, interior work and improved grounds.


The LIA had the Community (Lordship) Beach kept clean and refuse receptacles added.


Three additional street lights were placed at points of the greatest need.


Also, due to the many all-night parties along the beach that produced hours of noise and bushel baskets of debris, signs were erected to prevent any further misuse of the area, which then belonged to the Lordship Park Association. The Lordship Park Association planned to deed the property to the Town, and there was much talk of erecting a Pleasure Beach including concessions, bathing houses, etc.


1938: The Lordship Park Association decided to move on and turned the deed over to Lordship resident Don Sammis as trustee to the waterfront property running along Park Boulevard from Lordship Road to Spruce Street to the water’s edge. This was to be held in perpetuity as a park for the people of Lordship Manor. Don Sammis was also chairman of the Stratford Town Council from 1921-1927 and Town Manager from 1932-1934.


1940: The LIA began the fight to keep the sale of liquor out of Lordship. Peggy Doyle requested a liquor license for her Peggy’s Restaurant (later Skippers). The battle would go to court and the LIA prevailed.


1948: The LIA led the fight against the purchase of the Bluffs from York Street east by the Town of Stratford to be used as a public park. The park would have extended to the Lighthouse and north to the Short Beach basin.


1949: The LIA took up the fight again to keep the sale of liquor out of Lordship when Cornelius Ahern proposed a restaurant drinkery on Stratford Road. After many battles with the Town planning and zoning boards and in court, Ahern would open Aherns Drive-In and an amusement park.


1952: The LIA began and led the fight against the expansion of the airport to accommodate larger planes.


1955: The LIA fought the placement of anti-aircraft guns on the land near York Street and at Stratford Point. The plan would eventually be abandoned.


1956: In an effort to end the rowdy parties on Russian Beach, the Lordship Improvement Association voted to close the eight acres of Russian Beach to non-residents. Outsiders had been accused of fiercely abusing the hospitality of beach privileges granted them by the Lordship people.


The area was posted with signs stating “This beach is for Lordship residents only,” and a special policeman was hired to enforce obedience of the signs.


Another gripe of the Association was that Lordship streets were being used as speedways by non-resident teenagers, endangering the lives of children in that area.


Lordshippers were also aroused when they learned that no radio patrol car was in the area when a resident called police to break up a teenage stag party. The regularly assigned car was instead on duty at the Shakespeare Theater.


Because of poor conditions at Short Beach due to erosion, and the near disappearance in the 1955 hurricane of Lordship Beach (today’s ‘Point No Point’ beach at the Seawall), non-residents began using Russian Beach.


1957: The LIA was deeded the portion of Lordship Beach known as Russian Beach - from Lordship Road to Spruce Street - as trustee for the citizens of Lordship. Don Sammis had been trustee from 1932 and paid the taxes from his own pocket.

bottom of page