No Room At The Inn

A sad chapter in the storied history of National Hall has sputtered to an end.  The Inn’s final day is Monday.  Antiques, chandeliers, a 15-foot cherry bookshelf — all could go the way of Shaw’s, if that’s what Antares, the property’s elusive owner, wants.

Can’t Westporters — a creative bunch, for sure — mine the  handsome 3-story 137-year-old building’s past for an appropriate remodel?

Back in 1884 National Hall served as the 1st home of Staples High School.  Of course, just 4 years ago we dedicated an $84 million renovation, so odds are we won’t be moving back downtown any time soon.

At one time the top floor was used as a basketball court.  Rumor has it that the YMCA is dissatisfied with its current digs, just a skyhook away from National Hall.  If they haven’t made plans to move anywhere, maybe the Inn could serve as a new Y.  On 2nd thought, it is a bit cramped.

For many years, National Hall housed a furniture store.  Age of Reason — right across the street — wanted to expand there recently, but Antares never returned phone calls.  Returning to retail remains another option.

Because the building is on the National Register of Historic Places, it can’t be torn down as easily as your basic split-level.  But that designation — and local politics — also constrict possible uses of the property.

So I guess there are no other options for…wait!  I’ve got it!

One of National Hall’s most noted incarnations was as the home of Horace Staples’ Westport Bank & Trust Company.  What a perfect location for a bank — and just what Westport needs!

On second thought — nah.  No one would ever think of opening a new bank around here.


4 responses to “No Room At The Inn

  1. Chip Stephens

    Two Words

    The consolidation of the current town hall and the agencies spread all over town, building in th efire house, health in bayberry NIKE site
    I believe I was one of the first to suggest the move from downtown to my old Bedford El Now, before we get hit with a “lets build a new glass and steel town hall on Barrons south, lets consider National Hall

  2. Wally Meyer

    I stayed at National Hall the first night it was open for business. It was a nice taste of luxury and it was done at the behest of my good friend Nick Carter. Nick had been hired by the Tauck Family to run the Inn. He had wonderful stories to tell. He had never been well educated and at age16, in England, he tried to enlist in the Royal Marines. With flat feet he didn’t make it so he had to settle for the navy. In short, he went to cooking school, got his college degree, and eventually ran the culinary show on an aircraft carrier. The high point of his naval career was to be appointed Purser on the royal yacht Britannia.
    When the yacht was visiting our West Coast, with the Queen aboard, he was called into her study. While standing at attention before her she said, “Carter you are out of uniform!” Nick was squirming thinking his fly might be open, but she went on to say, “As of this monent you are now a Lieutenant Commander”.Nick Carter had great stories to tell as does National Hall itself. Westport’s history is wrapped up right there on the banks of the Saugatuck.

    • GREAT back stories, Wally — THANKS. The Tauck family deserves big props for renovating the decrepit, pigeon-dropping-encrusted National Hall so elegantly and lovingly (the lamps on the bridge are a Tauck touch too). What a shame the current owners decided to pull the plug.

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