Friday Flashback: The Follow-Up

Friday’s 1st-ever “Flashback” photo caused quite a bit of commotion, among a subset of “06880” readers.

The image — of the Pine Knoll Inn — led to back-and-forth comments, about whether the once grand home-turned-boardinghouse had ever been moved, from its spot on the Post Road behind the Crest Drive-In to a place further back at what is now Playhouse Square.

Jill Turner Odice just sent this photo, from 1950:

Saugatuck Church moving 1950

It shows the Saugatuck Congregational Church being moved — on logs — down and across the Post Road, from its original site near the current Sunoco gas station, to its present location. (Life Magazine featured the event, in a photo spread.)

You can see the Tydol gas station (more recently Getty, now Quality Service and Towing.) Next to it is Dairy Queen — the forerunner of the Crest.

And there, directly behind the gas station on the far left, you can see a little bit of the Pine Knoll Inn.

Meanwhile, Neil Brickley emailed aerial photos. They don’t reproduce well here, but they do show that between 1934 and 1965, the Pine Knoll definitely moved further back.

The year was probably 1957. Wendy Crowther noted this:

In April of 1957 there was a law suit filed by contractors who were hired to remove topsoil from the Pine Hill Estates property “in the rear of the Dairy Queen stand” during the “relocation of the Pine Knoll Inn, which is owned by Pine Hill Estates.”

The Pine Knoll Inn met its end in the early 1980s. It was torn down to make way for the Playhouse Condominium complex, behind what had already become Playhouse Square.

33 responses to “Friday Flashback: The Follow-Up

  1. yes, i remember a lot of earth was removed about the time the
    Dairy Queen was built. i was hooked on that stuff; now it’s plastic,
    but then, rich with eggs and real cream. the shakes were a mindblower

  2. Double wow for this photo!

  3. Here is a story about it being torn down from the January 27 1981 edition of the Norwalk Hour:,4084994&hl=en

    • ‘Knell for Pine Knoll…’ hahaha it’s so ‘His Girl Friday’ (the silver screen newsroom comedy) this title! I can almost hear the typewriter return bar sound w/ the bell – after the end of that sentence! Thanks so much for posting this! This is precious to me. (Please see my other post to you about Peter Funk)… Does this mean she finally made some more income from the sale of this property for condos? So she could retire in comfort? I really hope so… She was performing an altruistic public service by providing low rent to all those musicians! We should have a little monument to her there for that. Each & every one of those people would now have to live outside of town.

  4. Wendy Crowther is the varsity all star horse whisperer of Westport history. Congrats to everyone who helped clean up the record on Pine Knoll.

    • I initially reported it was moved – as the elderly Miss Kemper had told my brother that whilst he was a tenant there in 79/80 and I always listen intently to elderly locals about their lives here – reverently… then I apologised to Ms.Crowther – when told I was wrong about that… only to have someone else prove that it was actually moved by sending Mr.Woog photographs. I’m not a historian – just a dyed in the wool local girl <3 <3 <3

      • And I sent the initial comment (at daybreak this morning) about the 1988 interview w/ Miss Kemper (which I found after a night of exhaustive research) which is at the Westport Historical Society (& that it was #22) should anyone want to hear it. <3 <3 <3

      • Wendy Crowther

        Zoe–When I questioned whether the Inn had been moved from the former location of Crazy Eddie’s, I was thinking that Crazy Eddie’s had been at the corner of the Post Rd. & S. Compo. Dan reminded me that this was Sam Goody’s, not Crazy Eddie’s. Please know that I wasn’t challenging you on whether the Inn had been moved. I was only doubting that it had been moved from Post & Compo (where, in fact, another inn once stood called the Hawthorne Inn). I apologize for mixing up the two music/record stores.

        That mistake inspired me to continue to chase down more of the story behind the Pine Knoll Inn and its former owners – all reported in the comments section of Dan’s Friday Flashback.

        This whole thing was great fun. Your memories, added to Jill Turner Odice’s contributions, and reinforced by my research helped create a great synergy that revealed an awesome Westport story. Thank you for being such a good listener back in the day.

        • I lead you down the Crazy Eddie’s rubble strewn path w/ an earlier post! I’d actually probably remembered it (the name… Crazy Eddie’s) from when it arrived on the Post Road (West) in or near Norwalk (much later… late 70s… as before then it was only in NYC I think). I never would have remembered Sam Goody’s though – unless Dan posted it. (I don’t really orient myself to Westport by commercial shops as a lot of Westporters apparently do). I left a comment on a comment of yours telling everyone (or any of us obsessives) that I bought a postcard of the Hawthorne Inn yesterday after finding it for sale online. It should arrive (in about a week?) and then I’ll give it to The Historical Society. I had never heard of it before. All I knew and wrote of was that Miss Kemper had told my brother that they had moved their house from closer to the road… and that at one time they had that street frontage. As well as other things she said like having been able to see the shore from the captain’s walk / widow’s walk before. Which makes even more sense since Dan’s last post where he said the hill was leveled off a bit. (If I recall what he wrote properly).

          I’m new to posting comments here – although not to Westport – as I was born & raised here (sometime in the neolithic)… So I think it’s a tight community (Dan’s aquarium here – not nec. Westport now!) & people may be wondering: WHO is this?! Which I’m not unaware of. My first post ever was to comment on my teacher Miss Summ having rented the little Main St. cottage & the second to comment about Miss Kemper’s recollections to my brother when he lived there. Which I narcissistically convinced myself people would need to know like they require air & water. So probably everyone will be able to breathe a sigh of relief as I run out of people I know who’ve lived in architecturally significant buildings 🙂 And then I’ll start on woodlands & bodies of water! Example: “Sherwood Pond” was only ever referred to by most locals as “the old mill pond”. It took me an HOUR the other day to sort what people were referring to here… Which of course makes one realise one is on the road to fossilisation. I refrain from commenting on a lot of then vs. now things because I don’t think the evolving language in town – “town center” vs. “downtown” and other bits of how Westport was before – would be of desperate interest to anyone. But the architecture and the people who lived in it – I’m a bit protective of. (That and the open space & shore). Which reminds me of a joke someone from the Carolina’s who lives here now told me: How many New Englanders does it take to change a burnt out light bulb? / Three – one to change it and two more to complain about why it was better before. <3

  5. Nancy Hunter

    “This is more fun than a cocktail party” remarks a Westporter…

    • It has been! 🙂 I’m sure some people posting comments are killing two birds w/ one liquidy stone there 😉 It won’t be completed sorted until I read the interview w/ Miss Kemper… A dancer w/ an old wooden shabbily genteel boarding house! It’s precious & brilliant! One thing that’s been left out is the (please observe the scare quotes to brace yourself) ‘insect problem’. I shall leave that to people’s vivid imaginations <3.

  6. I remember when I was very tiny (prior to nursery school & Kindergarten age in the early 60s) going to Crest for ice cream (which ended up not in my mouth but everywhere else) and seeing the surrounding parking lot (inc. behind Crest) unpaved and covered w/ dirt. Which makes sense given the details in the prior post about the late fifties lawsuit & shopping center (soil etc.). Dirt parking lots were not wildly uncommon then though (for those of us old enough to remember) so I remember thinking it was yet another one.

    • I remember experiencing profound joy after coming across them (dirt parking lots) again driving through the Litchfield Hills in the 90s. Not in the woods either – but just surrounding a string of shops – as used to be true here.

  7. Zoe, do you have the link for the interview? I would love to read it!

    • No I don’t! I found it last night on a very clerical looking (read mindnumbingly dense) chart / list from WHS and posted about it at daybreak. (I wanted to post about it at 4am but was hesitant about unmasking my history obsession to the world). I’ve been asking if anyone knows how we can hear it or read a transcript. (I emailed Dan & asked in a comment here if someone from the WHS can post it on here… on Dan’s initial thread would be lovely). Fingers crossed someone from WHS will sympathise w/ us & post it… here or on the WHS website.

      Jill – I knew Pete <3 <3 when he lived above The Dugout & above the corner shop on Riverside & Post Road. (The one that had high fat ice cream & blondies & the proprietor became angry if you read a magazine for over three seconds!). I still have a paper fan Pete gave me. It moves w/ me to every new place (for over 35 years now). It's just one of those things I can't give away or toss. He was over my parents house one day (as he was in a post punk band w/ my brother c. 79/80 in which he was the off the chain singer) & he said "I brought something for you" and opened his guitar case & pulled out a beautiful painted fan. Apropos of nothing of course! Pete was such a great artist also. He did this cartoon caricature of the band that captured each one of them brilliantly. (In b&w pen&ink).This was when he was in the corner place on Riverside. I came across it only because it was on the wall. (He didn't show it to me). I said "Pete this is AMAZING." (I'm an artist also. Only Pete hadn't studied art… I don't think…). I said "Why don't you do this for a living?!" I didn't know then that his father was an artist. (That's right no?). I only knew that more recently after I saw a remembrance online (an obit for another family member?…I think…). He didn't say anything. Just very humbly dismissed how talented he was. He was like a sweet big brother. The first time my brother introduced me to him – he made a really happy fuss over meeting me "Is this your little sister?!" And everyone was so jaded then – in that whole late 70s NYC area music scene – so that wasn't very usual! Hahaha.

    • Jill: Below is the list of interviews from WHS I found on Saturday where I learned Miss Kemper’s full name & year of interview. (As I posted early Sunday morning – the interview itself isn’t linked). Scroll down the page to interview # 22 in 1988 and you’ll see her listed. I want to hear others on this list as well. Some iconic Westport families are represented. What a precious treasure this is. (I hope they’re not left on tape & they are transferred to digital w/ backup transcripts… which are then put in a fireproof waterproof vault!).

  8. How about a story about moving the church. I vaguely remember the move but I was just a kid then.

  9. John F. (J-period) Wandres

    Like the old CBS Radio (Then TV)show “You are there,”I watched as the Saugatuck Church was moved across the Post Road. What made it unusual is that in the middle of the Post Road the church building had to be rotated 180 degrees so that the steeple in its new location faced the Post Road when it was jacked into place. The move even made the cover of LIFE Magazine.

  10. Zoe, thanks…I also found that link, just thought you meant you had heard it…Peter and i went way back to when I lived in Weston and was 15. We were very close right up until he died. Many adventures and trouble were shared:-) Yes, his Dad was Tom Funk, he did cartoons for the New Yorker magazine. His sisters were artists as well. I never really knew his Mom. Peter moved around almost as much as I did in those days …He was amazing and talented guy.

    • x Jill… Someone Pete was friends w/ was staying in the Gorham Island house at one time… a girlfriend? (With some other people). Because I think I remember around 1980 he had a girlfriend (?) who was staying there… It’s hard to remember. (Hahaha… a lot of readers here will be surprised that people stayed in the Gorham Island house as well! Before it was destroyed… which makes one angry just thinking about it… the destruction – not that people stayed there. For the very few that even remember that majestic beauty). I felt sorry for those kids – as I was living at my parents w/ a nice warm fireplace & hot coffee etc. – so I left a bag of blankets at the entrance one day knowing they could use them… but then there was a ridiculously torrential downpour & I’m sure they just thought someone had left a bag of super clean & orderly soaking wet trash in the drive! The good thing was they were right behind Oscars. (Hahaha some people reading are also going to be surprised that people lived rough in the middle of Westport! Behind Oscars…). I don’t want to post my email online – but maybe I can email it to Dan & he can email it to you… If that sounds logical… Does it? Then we can write more about Pete… and other people we might both know. Tell me if that sounds workable (?)… I should give you Pete’s paper fan! Btw – think I’m going to email the WHS today and ask them if they can post that interview – either audio or transcript (or both for people who can’t hear). It’s so lovely we both know Pete! You a lot more it sounds like. 🙂 🙂 🙂 None of us artists & musicians from those years stayed in Westport… it’s so changed…

      • PS: I would really love a photo of him if you have one! (to scan & email so as not to part w/ your original). I don’t have one 🙁

    • Re. Miss Kemper interview. I just received a call from the archivist at WHS: The interviews are not online yet. They are going to do that in future. They are on magnetic tape and hence kept in a climate controlled archival vault for protection. One can make an appointment to request to hear them (in the mornings when the archivist is there). A bit sad for anyone living at a great distance for now – but they are being put online eventually – so that is something to look forward to.

  11. Zoe, are you on Facebook, you can find me there along with some photos of him…

    • x Jill
      Not yet – the tide is against me w/ that though – so perhaps in future (if required). Btw: Someone from WHS who I rang today is looking into the interview w/ Miss Spencer… it sounded like they will email it to me if possible (audio and/or transcript). So I imagine they will do the same for anyone (?). I suggested they post it online…

  12. Zoe, you can have Dan send me your email…I just posted a bunch of photos including Peter, Gorham Island and other stuff from back then on my FB page…

    • x Jill
      !!!!!! Those are amazing photos. You look adorable btw! (Love the one w/ the coat & hat. Very 1970 ‘Love Story’ Ali McGraw). I have never seen Pete look like that. When was it taken? It looks like it’s in a salon? (The chairs?). I’ve never seen Pete in wide flairs… hahaha. How old was he then? He looks very different than when I met him! I may open a fb account just so I can post comments = questions about some of these photos. (You may have worn me down w/ the promise of these old photos). Some names of people sound familiar to me. Here is my email (because it is – I suspect – becoming very annoying to people – our tangential posts):

    • x Jill
      Brilliant! Both the bio & his drawings & paintings. Now I see how Pete was influenced re. the cartoon I wrote about that Pete drew of the band. (Similar to Pete’s father’s pen & ink illustrations of a group of people in the link you sent). He must have been pulverised when Pete passed… along w/ you. 🙁 I was in NYC where I had moved in late 1980.

  13. sandra Johnson

    WOW – all this information today is better than any history lesson taught in school!!!