House Of Morgan: The Sequel

Yesterday’s photo of Main Street’s long-forgotten House of Morgan spurred alert “06880” reader Gary Singer to send one of his own.

It’s taken from almost the same angle as the one Bill Scheffler sent. However, Gary says, this one —

— was taken a decade earlier.  He guesses it’s the late 1930s or early ’40s.

In Gary’s photo, Brightwood Market is where both Kiddie Lane  and House of Morgan eventually settled.

Meanwhile, alert “06880” reader R. Hammond logged onto Ancestry.com, and found 2 city directories.

He says the House of Morgan appears in 1950 as a gift shop at 13 Main Street. It’s owned by Carl L. and Florence E. Morgan. Seven years later it was still listed as a gift shop. Elsie Zabelle was the 1957 owner.

The 1950s era photo, showing the “House of Morgan” (center).

Alert “06880” reader Jack Whittle added more info:

Westport’s town clerk online info shows a trade name for “House of Morgan” filed on 9-27-51 by Carl and Florence Morgan, and a subsequent filing for the same trade name by Mary Lucas Crawford on 3-31-54. Carl and Florence Morgan look to have bought some some property on Wright Street in 1944. (I also see that Carl Morgan’s death certificate was filed on 6-5-53, and it looks like he died in Massachusetts on 10-5-52).

As for date of photo, I am guessing early ’50s. Welch’s Hardware was incorporated in 1946; the House of Morgan info, and that woody wagon parked in front looks late ’40s, and the Kiddie Lane trade name was filed in 1949.

Checking R. Hammond’s city directory info, I noticed that Morgan was not the only “House of…” in Westport. There was also a “House of Byse” listed on State Street East (now called Post Road East).

It was on the ground floor of the office building just east of where Great Cakes and the gas station are today. I vaguely remember it from my youth, though I always thought it was the “House of Buys.” (Apparently it was cleverly named for its owner, Abraham B. Beiser.)

Well, that’s at least 2 Westport “houses” that were not torn down and replaced by mansions.

24 responses to “House Of Morgan: The Sequel

  1. This has been fascinating, thanks Dan…a kind of photographic archeological dig…each earlier layer clarifying later mysteries. I had been wondering about the boy in Mr. Scheffler’s ’50’s photo, the one in the white shirt and dark shorts. Why is it that he seems to be moving so very fast, almost as if in a sprint? Mr. Singer’s ’30’s/40’s photo sets the kinetic scene….someone just stole that poor kid’s bike!

  2. Gary Singer

    I was apparently a little off in my guesstimation of the date of yesterday’s
    photo. If the House of Morgan moved there in 1951, the date is certainly between ’51 and ’56 or ’57. On one of those two years, Gray’s moved up the street to the new County Federal bank building. Dr. Paul Beres had his first practice upstairs.

  3. My Mother says House of Byse was the first discount store in Westport. A great place to buy Christmas toys, appliances etc Mr Beiser was a lawyer and an entrepreneur.

  4. Never heard of these.. but have been working on my own mystery for years. There was reference to a tenement being town down in downtown Westport. I assumed.. I don’t know why, it was on the river side of down town. I would love to solve that mystery too. There has got to be a bunch of photos in private collections of downtown Westport, no? I bet there are even some from over a hundred years ago.

    • Do you mean 22 1/2 Main Street, approximately where Onion Alley is now? The alley led to a boarding house, which burned to the ground.

      • It could be. It was called a tenement in the source that I read. I also wonder if the “arcade” was always there. And why did we call it an arcade? Didn’t we call it an arcade? I know it’s gotten narrower over the years. I wish I had a for every time I went through that thing.

        • Jack Whittle

          Mary – I believe you are thinking of the boarding house – tenement where Westport’s African American population largely lived, this was located in the area of the alley next to Matsu Sushi. I’ll dig up a reference to it from my Westport history books.

    • Then again, there is this (supporting Dan’s post) from Woody Klein’s “Diversity in Westport: Still Only A Dream” January 25, 2006 piece in the Westport News:
       
      “The presence of blacks in Westport has a long history, dating back to the 1930s when a ramshackle tenement at 22-1/2 Main Street was inhabited by blacks who worked in the homes of white, middle-class Westport residents. Tragically, the squalid tenement was destroyed by fire in 1950 and the black tenants were forced to leave town.”
       

  5. Dan – Thanks so much for posting those two photos (and thanks Gary for adding yours). It’s uncanny how the two photos are trained on the same spot… as if there were some kind of special energy there. The two photos FEEL related, and I, too, had the feeling that the running boy was looking for his bicycle (perhaps lost through a time worm hole?). There’s magic afoot…

  6. Gary Singer

    I had the same thought. Perhaps another example of the Time Continuum at play.

  7. I believe Abe Bieser was also a local practicing attorney. The House of Byse also had another owner who was arrested and I think served time for distributing pornographic movies. Abe wasn’t involved in that. I don’t remember his name. The business eventually moved to the little shopping area across from where Arby’s is now located.- Dick Alley

  8. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I remember the House of Byse like it was yesterday. Remember being in that store and finding an aqua colored telephone. First time I saw a phone that wasn’t black! It was a discount store and we did go there to Christmas shop.

  9. Jack Whittle

    House of Byse incorporated 7-8-53; name changed to House of Buys 9-22-58. Again per T of W online info. Can’t access the doc itself online so I cannot advise the name of the owner, but it sounds like an interesting story.

  10. There are other surprising things about recent Westport History that I’d like to know more about. There was a golf course where the Unitarian Church is now that went through the Bonnie Brook area.. never heard of it until a client told me in the woods in her back yard she could see a bridge over a brook and could always find old golf balls everywhere. What was that story? There was a pin ball bowling alley downtown on the second floor across from where Michele’s Pies is on the Post Road… was it there for a long time and what was it called? The traveling circus came to town for enough years that in a 1934 aerial photo you could see the circled area. It was where Fillow street was. I’d like to know more about that. My brothers worked there sweeping stalls, etc but they were 8-9 years old and don’t remember much.

    • Fred Cantor

      Mary, I grew up near there and that’s the first time I’ve heard of a golf course in that area. My understanding is that Silverbrook Farm covered much of that area. Perhaps Jeff Wilkins, whose family owned a large block of land on Lyons Plains Road just down the street from the current site of the Unitarian Church, might have more information. I will contact him.

      • Fred, I recall hearing it was from the 1930s.. but it’s been verified by an independent source.. who, I can’t recall, but someone remembered it. I just can’t imagine on there..but it’s just about the right amount of land, if you think of it.

    • Nancy Powers Conklin

      Mary there was a duck pin bowling alley where you said upstairs on the second floor. My mother and her brother and sisters all bowled there before they were married. I always thought it was weird that it was on the second floor!

    • Jack Whittle

      Mary – A look at the 1934 aeriel photos (great resource I showed you before, right?) of that Bonnie Brook area show no golf course (no houses either, just a big open field) – doesnt mean it didn’t happen later or wasn’t there earlier though

      • I could see the circus area where Fillow road is now off Clinton ave in that aerial shot. Could it have been a golf course that would not look like one from the air? I recall old golf courses having sandy areas and very rough toughs. Maybe it would look like a field from above?

  11. Eric Buchroeder

    Not much to add, except that everyone knows that the Bedford family had a horse racing track and stables between what is now the Sherwood Island Connector and West Parish Road, right?. I remember it was deserted but all still in place in the late 50’s – early 60’s.

    • I found an article that said the Fairfield County Hunt Club show was taking place at Bedford Race Track. There was also mention of a sports Oval.. !! Never heard of that before either. I found evidence of the race track from 1919-24 but it probably lasted much longer.