The Brook Lives!

Amid all the political signs at the Greens Farms railroad station (though there’s a remarkable paucity for the presidential candidates*) — one stood out Sunday for Oliva Schoen.


(Photo/Oliva Schoen)

Then she saw a few more nearby.

And one on the Post Road.

If you’re wondering: They’re true. The Brook — aka as the Brook Cafe, and the Cedar Brook — was said to be the oldest continually operating gay bar in America, when it closed 6 years ago.

It was located on the Post Road near the Sherwood Island Connector — right across from what were then state police barracks. (It’s Walgreens today.)

There’s no word on whether SEWHIP (“so hip”) — Society to Expose Westport’s Historically Important Past — will put up a sign recalling Krazy Vin’s. That’s the strip joint that operated where Starbucks is today. You know — directly oppposite the Brook.

Those were some days!

(Want to know more about Westport’s gay bar? Click here.)

*Go figure

18 responses to “The Brook Lives!

  1. Love the passion, SEWHIP!

  2. Good stuff!

  3. I wonder what else the SEWHIP will expose!

  4. Joyce Barnhart

    We actually went into Crazy Vin’s once. The strippers were not going to move on to be Vegas show girls. The black and white tiles were black and gray. It was definitely the kind of place where you should drink only bottled beer. I never drink beer but I ordered a bottle that night. We knew a Westport woman who went to The Brook to dance. She told my husband if he was ever there, he should ask for “Trish”, not her real name. Those two experiences are about the raunchiest we’ve ever had – sheltered lives.

  5. Thanks for stirring up fond memories of many nights spent dancing at the Brook! I remember the chicken that wandered around loose in there 🙂 I was never turned away at the door even though I am a straight woman. I grew up living in Westport and Provincetown, so the Brook was like a 2nd home to me 🙂 I will never forget that crazy colored dance floor that lit up!
    Love that sign!

  6. Wendy Crowther

    SEWHIP – Please publicize some more great historical facts. Westport has been losing its historical way these days.

    I was on the verge of floating the idea around town that the former Brook Cafe be designated as a Local Historic Landmark. Unfortunately, a new building owner made it hard for the tenant to continue the business and the Brook closed. Not long afterward, its roof collapsed (under the weight of a lot of snow) and that was the final stake in the building’s heart.

  7. I love this — I wish I’d thought of this: *guerrilla street historians* vs. guerrilla street artists.

    Hopefully they wear masks & dark clothing when they put these up — like street artists. Does anyone know who the mysterious SEWHIP is? (A search online earlier revealed only something about needlework in Germany). The historian version of Banksy.

    • The SEWHIPs better keep their masks on. The Westport Historic District Commission loathes preservationists.

      • Very clever tactic Mr.Boyd… writing about *SEWHIP* in the 2nd person here…

        • Nope, it’s a little too late for masks in my case. I’m out there on the preservation battlefield. Loud and proud, you might say.

  8. Re. 1939 as the first year for The Brook & Gay nightclubs & bars: I was astonished to see online recently a poster type ad for my grandfather’s & his brother’s nightclub in Ohio in the 30s advertising *Gay Boy Reviews*.

    Apparently this was during something called “The pansy craze” in America & Europe (think Christopher Isherwood ‘Berlin Stories’ from which ‘Cabaret’ was modelled on). Basically they were drag shows featuring beautiful young men that straight audiences were apparently enamoured w/ in the 30s. By the 40s a lot of nightclubs that presented them had to cave to vice laws that cracked down on the shows. (I learned all this detail only after I did some research — after having seen the ad/poster for my grandfather’s club).

    At the same time my grandfather was helping fund a new Lebanese church (building) there (in Youngstown Ohio). So the church was built partially w/ funding from my grandfather & his brother’s nightclub’s *Gay Boy Reviews*. I found this to be really funny given our modern Lebanese association w/ nightclubs & dancing & wearing sparkly clothing (going back to the Phoenicians).

    I’m quite proud of my grandfather for this. He *fell asleep in the Lord* before I met him & it gave me a whole new understanding of him: as before then he’d been a chocolatier. Today he would have been spinning techno & electronica etc.

  9. I saw this today when visiting Starbucks (btw, at SBX, someone addressed an illegal parker by running in and yelling “a car is on fire” to get them to jump up and, hopefully, move it).

    Anyway, I’m glad someone did this – I confess that I dropped the ball on creating historical markers, as I’ve often thought it would be a great way to note lost Westport, high and low.

    I’ve often noted that the filming location of “The Last House on the Left” deserved some notice. But why not also the childhood home of Marilyn Chambers? Or notable buildings torn down, like Paul Rudolph’s Louis Micheels house?

    Bravo to SEWHIP!

    • David Schaffer

      I’d add the place of J.D. Salinger’s residence in Westport as well.

      • Where did J.D.Salinger live?

        Perhaps we should have a bus tour like in LA/Hollywood. (I am joking so I hope nobody ever does this! Imagine looking out your window w/ your morning coffee or working in the garden & having a busload of people staring at your house… ).

  10. The Brook Café and Crazy Vins is what made Westport a diverse town along with many other places that no longer exist. Truly sad !!!!!