1 Wilton Road: Through The Years

1 Wilton Road — the former needlepoint shop that’s part of the reason that intersection with the Post Road and Riverside Avenue is the worst in Westport the state the world — has been in the news lately.

David Waldman hopes to buy the property, and move the house onto the former Save the Children site (which he already owns). That will pave the way (ho ho) for a dedicated turning lane, easing (somewhat) the current gridlock.

Right now, everyone in Westport loathes that corner. But 50 years ago, local illustrator Albert Hubbell found it soothing, even bucolic. His stylized illustration became the New Yorker cover on January 9, 1965. It’s also part of the great “New Yorker in Westport” book by Eve Potts and Andrew Bentley, depicting 50 magazine covers by area artists.

New Yorker cover - Jan 9, 1965 - Wilton Road and Post Road

Ten years later — on Christmas Day, 1975 — Fred Cantor found it alluring too. Here’s his photo:

Wilton Road and Post Road intersection - 1975

That corner sure looks pretty — without traffic.

But with that thing we did have every winter. It was — how do say it — “snow”?

23 responses to “1 Wilton Road: Through The Years

  1. Trust me, there are other corners in this town that are much worse. I can name a few but I’m sure you can, too.

  2. I’m just enjoying the idyllic artwork you shared on this Sunday morning…lovely, isn’t it?

  3. That is a wonderful painting. I can’t make out the name of the store–“.., Market.” What was the full name? I don’t remember that store.

    Also, we got the New Yorker book as a gift for my mom, who now lives in the city. She loved it and said it brings back so many memories.

  4. Worst intersection ever.. It simply doesn’t exist to me and many others. Waldman probably avoids it too. Transforming that area would be the best idea ever. When Premier market was near there..it was a hopping place. And it looks like a ke It will be again! And keeping that darling building is so cool. This news is too exciting for words.

  5. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    If you remember it as it once was, as in the New Yorker painting, it was not a busy intersection. Traveling through town was not the fast track situation that it now is. The hill above the shop had a few homes on it, one of which was the dwelling of the Isenman family: real people! There was time to slow down and pull into the small parking lot beside the Spirit Shop or Needlepoint Shop even in the 70s and 80s. A sad loss in this our town is that kind of feeling.

  6. Have to say that there are other intersections that need to be improved moreso than this one. Maybe someone needs to make some priorities here, or let the state do it.

  7. Jill Turner Odice

    I remember the Corner Spirit Shop. We had to park across the street behind Premier Mkt to go buy beer…

  8. don l bergmann

    As always, thanks Dan. 1965 doesn’t seem so long ago to me. Don Bergman

  9. Louis Gagliano

    Lou Gagliano

    Hooray for David Waldman for doing the right thing not just from an economic view but also what makes sense from the town’s view and it’s citizen-

    His proposal to contribute to the building of a footbridge to connect both sides of the river near and across from Parker Harding is also of great value to the continued improvements in the downtown area.

    Lou G from Washington DC

  10. Not to be the skunk at the garden party, but I’m not persuaded that this 1965 New Yorker cover is a depiction of the 19th century front gabled building with side dependency located at the corner of Wilton Road and the Post Road. The cover is lovely and I’m sure it’s a reasonably faithful representation of a street scene somewhere. Just not here.

    • Morley, I thought the scene depicted was just up the hill from the Corner Spirit Shop.

      • Perhaps you’re right, Fred. And I certainly respect your judgment. I just can’t manage to mate the scene with any area landmark – extant or otherwise. The problem for me is that this painting wasn’t made all that long ago so it shouldn’t be a big lift to ID its location.

        • I thought the painting took artistic liberties — taking the buildings on the west bank of the Saugatuck (Post Road, Wilton Avenue, Riverside, Wright Street) and placing them in a more bucolic setting.

          • This lovely scene has a feeling of verisimilitude about it. I sense it’s a reasonably truthful representation of an actual place as the buildings do not have that ersatz appearance that might lead one to think it was merely composite depiction. Of course, it’s only my horseback opinion, but I’d likely feel otherwise if there was something tangible in that streetscape that could be attached to the present – or the recent past.

            • Nancy Hunter Wilson

              Please just say it: All New Yorker magazine covers are satiric! And so, I wouldn’t want my town on the cover, ever!

              • Not true, Nancy — especially in the first 70 or so years of the New Yorker. Check out the Westport Historical Society’s book on New Yorker covers. Many were simply scenes of life in and around New York. Not satirical at all.

        • Nancy Hunter Wilson

          All New Yorker covers embellished, using artistic license (artwork, after all!). The cartoons, though, are always spot on.

  11. Dan, almost all old photos I have you have. I have an old one of this corner looking from Post Road West. There’s a fountain or a horse trough in the middle of the road. And it shows the Fairfield Furniture Building (first Staples High) I would post it but I bet you have a better copy. And it looks like the painting, more or less.