Alert “0688o” reader Seth Schachter spotted this gem for sale on eBay:
It’s an invitation to an informal reception at the Westport Opera House on December 29 — of 1892.
Smythe’s Orchestra was going to play. The cost for gentlemen was $1. Apparently, women were free.
The most interesting part of the invitation is the 3rd name on the “Committee.” Besides Gould Jelliff and Arthur Jelliff, there was B. Louis Toquet.
Here’s the back story (thanks to Woody Klein’s history of Westport):
Benjamin H. Toquet was born in Paris in 1834, and came to America in 1845. He served in the Civil War, then returned to Westport.
His son — the B(enjamin) Louis Toquet on the invitation — was born in 1864.
Toward the end of the century the younger Toquet — now a respected businessman — built an opera house on Post Road property inherited by his wife, Nellie Bradley. The first town meeting was held there on April 2, 1892.
For the next 17 years, all town meetings and assemblies were held there.
The older Toquet died in 1913, a successful entrepreneur. He headed up the Toquet Motor Company, which developed carburetors for Fords.
B. Lewis Toquet had a daughter, Vivienne. His family — and his father — lived at 10 Avery Place. As of 1946, he was still living there.
In 2016, of course, the 2nd floor Post Road/Jesup Road alley space is not an opera house. It’s a teen center — and it’s named for Toquet.
Rock bands play there. Hip hop artists, comedians and magicians perform. Teenagers put on plays.
No opera, though.
PS: The eBay invitation sold this morning. The price was $9 — 9 times more than admission to the opera house, 124 years ago.