Friday Flashback #13

For the past 3 months, “06880” readers have enjoyed our Friday Flashbacks. We’ve looked at images like the original Post Road library, Compo Inn (nowhere near Compo Beach), even Arnie’s Place.

This week’s photo is different. I have no idea where it was taken.


The image is from a postcard in Seth Schachter’s collection. The front says simply “Rustic Scene, Westport, Conn.”

If you have any idea where this was located, click “Comments” below.

How cool would it be if it was still in someone’s back yard?

Though — this being Westport — it’s probably a teardown.

46 responses to “Friday Flashback #13

  1. Looks like the gazebo on the east side of the Saugatuck near the railroad bridge. Familiar landmark for rowers. Correct?

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      I think you’re right, Peter! It belongs to a property off of Ferry Lane East, which is easily seen when you’re on a boat in the river. It’s in pretty dire shape, because the last time I saw residents using it, they were very elderly.

  2. If so, it’s still there.

  3. Looks a lot like the rock formation in a front yard on Park Lane (corner of Scot Alan lane)

  4. Think this was at Schlate’s Point in the 40s, near Old Mill Beach.

  5. Wendy Crowther

    It’s on the Saugatuck as Peter Blau suggests. The property is 29 E. Ferry Lane. Dan, you featured a story about the house a few months ago – it was once a law school per Mary Palmieri Gay. I think the house/property went into foreclosure or an auction sale after the owners died. The house is spectacular – so is the gazebo on the rocky outcropping. The rock is referred to in Westport lore but at the moment, I can’t think of its name.

    • Wendy Crowther

      I should add that I’m not 100% sure of this because I’ve never looked at the gazebo from this particular angle, but it’s a darn good guess. I walked around the E. Ferry La. property last winter and the gazebo there does still exist.

      Also, I misspelled Mary Palmieri’s last name – it’s Gai not Gay.

      • I provided Dan with a newspaper article of the sale of the property in the 50s and there it was reported as having been a law school. Back in the day, it could have been a very simple place, not unlike the “oldest law school in the USA” in Litchfield which is just a house. 29 East Ferry was originally built in the late 1700s or early 1800s but the house was expanded and buried within the “new” house. No one ever knocked things down so it was added onto and added onto. That one may very well be the oldest law school in America. Our history is rich with incredible stories!

  6. I was going to guess the location as near the old cabins at the old Longshore Country Club.

  7. Wendy Crowther

    Me again. I’ve just looked at the photo that I took of the E. Ferry Lane gazebo (taken on the shoreline from just beneath it and slightly north of it). I’m going to take back my guess. The rocky outcropping at E. Ferry La. doesn’t look like a match with the outcropping shown in the photo above – the approach from the lawn to the outcropping in my photo seems flatter. The present gazebo in the E. Ferry La. location looks similar in style but is somewhat different in dimensions. Of course, the current version may have been a replacement of an older version. Keep guessing everyone!

    • Elizabeth Thibault

      I just took a few photos from the railroad bridge, once I can figure out how to send them to Dan, we can compare a little more. The current gazebo looks smaller to me. The lawns in this area have been significantly filled and changed over the years, so it being flatter now could just be a landscaping decision by some homeowner between when Seth’s photo was taken and now.

  8. When my parents moved into their house in 1960 my mother had a gazebo there — which was in serious state of disrepair — torn down. (She had four young children & it had a lot of rusty nails). It was at the top of the steep hill behind our house in the wood behind the back garden — circled by a foot path which led to two foot paths on either side descending down the hill. (Perfect for sledding btw).

    Our property had been the Cherry Orchard in Hockanum Park — the estate belonging to Morris Ketchum Jesup which was landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted. Our driveway was an original carriage road with a circular part at the top surrounded by a fieldstone wall. My 80 year old babysitter told me that MKJ opened this section of his estate to every Westporter on Sundays as a park (Hence ‘Hockanum Park’) & she used to go there at age five when people went there by horse & carriage to picnic under the cherry trees. This was an account by the lovely lady Mrs.Brown or Braun who lived in the brown cedar shingled house on Main Street — sort of opposite the little cottage that had been a butcher shop & my Bedford El teacher’s residence. She was about 80 years of age c. 1970. MKJ’s daughter had inherited his property — so perhaps she kept the estate open as a park for some years after MKJ’s passing.

    At first sight I really thought this was our hill & gazebo. Only this photo shows a hill that is far too rocky. Ours was a densly wooded hill — that probably had been flattened at the top as it was perfectly level — entirely covered by soil. It does give me a clue as to what our hill must have looked like w/ the gazebo though & I thought people may be interested to read about the Cherry Orchard & gazebo in Hockanum Park.

    I have wanted to ask the Westport Historical Society if they have a photo/photos of MKJ’s Hockanum Park estate & more specifically the cherry orchard & hill behind it w/ the gazebo. If anyone else has photos of that I would love to see them. It would mean the world to me.

  9. Regarding the comments of others here about a gazebo which is still there: This looks like an old photo & these gazebos do not last very long. It would be surprising if a gazebo still standing was the exact same one in a VERY old photo. (Unless it is in a state where if one blew toward it it would tumble into kindling).

    Is there a clue as to the age of the photo (type of photo and/or notes on reverse etc.)? It looks to be 20th century — but otherwise it is difficult to tell.

    • Happy to provide a little more detail — the back of this card is post stamped- 1914. The card was written to someone in Bridgeport. The card reads “Arrived Safe, Big (illegible). L Bay…. ” I will send the reverse of this card to Dan in case he wants to post it.

      • Thank you for the date/age Mr.Schachter! (I hadn’t realised it was a postcard).

        Is it likely that a small wooden garden gazebo would still be standing after 103 years? (Re. the particular one many have described seeing at present).

        Also please read my post here about Hockanum Park (which also had a gazebo). I am wondering if you have any photos of this estate landscaped by Frederick Law Olmsted (fingers crossed!).

        • Unfortunately, I do not have any photos of the Hockanum Park etc. I agree that 103 years later this gazebo would still be standing. Safe to say they rocks would be unless they were blasted. πŸ™‚

          • Mean’t to say- agree that the gazebo would probably NOT be there today (103 years later)

          • Thanks for answering me — despite your not having photos. I will try the WHS & the Frederick Law Olmsted Museum archives. They have a website & extensive records. (Perhaps NYC Historical Society has Morris Ketchum Jesup records & photos as well. He was a huge benefactor to NYC: YMCA on Third St. etc.).

    • Funny, I told my kids the same thing when we drove our boat past the gazebo a few months ago (I said I wondered how many gazebos have been built there since the one in the old post card I have). But, the one shown in the post card and the one there now are strikingly similar.

  10. Reminds me of Devil’s Den although that isn’t exactly Westport….

  11. Still There, as noted along the Saugatuck River near the train bridge, I have an old postcard that shows this gazebo from the water.

  12. Audrey Hertzel

    Kayaked past this gazebo last Sunday and thought of the many gazebos at Mohonk Mountain in New Paltz, NY! Great day trip if you’ve never been!

  13. Bill Whitbeck

    If someone could take a recent photo from the same location, that would be great. I love ‘then and now’ photos!

  14. I strongly suspect this is the East Ferry Lane location as mentioned above by Wendy and others. The large rock formation seems to closely resemble what was traditionally known as “The Narrows”. It’s just that the picture was taken from an unusual angle. When Wendy and I checked the little structure out last year it seemed to be in mostly original condition and certainly could be the same one depicted in Seth’s postcard marked 1914. Once again, Seth, you d’man – I’ve never seen this image. Thanks for sharing!

    • It is definitely on private property? (As some here have described). Since you believe it is that old (at least 103 years) I hope people keep painting it (assuming it is painted) & replacing missing nails etc. — as it is very lovely that it has lasted so very long.

    • I don’t want this to be misunderstood as pointless contrariness: I find it astonishing that a small garden gazebo would last through at least three hurricanes — 2012 & 1956 & the disastrous 1938 mother of all storms. (& any others since 1914 that I may be unaware of).

      Perhaps the laciness of it’s construction allowed high lashing winds to pass through it rather than blow it down or carry it away (?). Another thing is narrow strips of wood like this if not constantly painted & repaired/replaced would rot & weaken the whole structure.

      I would love it if someone would enlarge the images a bit (old & new) for comparison.

      • At the risk of further muddying the waters, it might be the “same” gazebo in the sense of the story of George Washington’s Axe, sometimes told as “my grandfather’s axe.” “I have my grandfather’s axe! I’ve replace the handle three times and the blade twice.” See also Theseus’ Paradox.

        • x Iain Bruce

          πŸ™‚ hahaha… & cell replication…

        • Schrodingers cat, yet again? How this blog reminds me of The Big Bang Theory.

        • PS > Iain Bruce:

          πŸ™ We may be arguing the Theseus Paradox re. the entire town of Westport soon due to all the teardowns & reconfiguration of downtown.

    • πŸ™‚ Thanks Morley — happy to share and love all of the info coming in!

  15. Not sure if I overlooked this answer in the thread above, but I think this is the backside of rock outcrop next to the putting green at Longshore, as seen from the Saugatuck River parking lot.

    • It’s overgrown now, but if you scamper up from either side, you can see evidence of what was once a water cascade feature. I’m thinking the gazebo was part of this garden/scenic overlook for the little motel next to the Longshore Inn, way back when.

  16. When Longshore was a private club, from the 1930s until 1960. The club catered mostly to New Yorkers. What was the motel is now the golf shop.

  17. I’m with Dan Herman. I grew up on Compo Parkway near Longshore. I remember seeing the old cabins and a gazebo near the edge of the woods.

  18. I did not know — or I forgot — that Longshore had been a private club prior to 1960. Nor did I know of a motel & cabins. (It makes sense though — like the shore towns in Maine w/ their cabins).

    At the risk of sounding like I wasn’t born&bred in Westport (& without a birds eye view map that I can make heads or tails of): could the Ferry Lane rock & gazebo be the Longshore rock & gazebo but seen from different sides? As there seems to be an evenly numbered insistent divide on the side of either opinion. (In the cartoon version of our lives I am now pelted by both Ferry Lane & Longshore advocates w/ small objects found easily at hand).

  19. Amelie Babkie

    My husband grew up in Westport. He thinks that rock and Gazeebo were/are on the left as you turn off of Imperial Avenue, onto that little road that goes to the Police station at the top of the hill. I can’t remember the name of that road. It goes up from Imperial, in between the The Gillespie Center and the Police Station and on down.

    • Amelie Babkie

      Jesus Road!

      • I think your autocorrect punked you as you likely meant to write Jesup Road.

        • Wendy Crowther

          That’s so funny. BTW – Hi Amelia! Great to see your name here. My mom and the rest of the Crowther family are all great. Good to know that you’re still weighing in on the hood.

        • x Morley Boyd

          It’s surprising that nobody altered the ‘Jesup Road’ sign over the years (as far as I know) to reflect the autocorrected version. πŸ™‚

          • Well, a lot of people, rightfully so, thought the Jesups walked on water but Jesus Road is already taken; it’s what those of us who live downtown call Route 1 when we’re stuck in traffic and just want to get home.

            • Oh Mr.Morley Boyd — Thou shalt not use the family name of an early Saugatuck village elder & his NYC railroad tycoon offspring ‘Jesup’ in vain. I am preparing a chair facing a wall in a corner for you… πŸ™‚

      • Hahaha… Jesup πŸ™‚ …This is perfect for my first reading of my email this Sunday! Thank you!

        I don’t think there is a big rock formation there (re. the gazebo).