Friday Flashback #28

Before South Moon Under. Before Klaff’s. Before Muriel’s Diner, shaped like a trolley car.

Before all that — on the block between what is now Taylor Place and the Taylor parking lot, across the Post Road from what is now Starbucks and what was then the very new Westport Public Library — stood this very handsome row of buildings.

klaffs-block-in-1915

Click on or hover over to enlarge. 

According to Seth Schachter — who sent this fascinating 1915 postcard — the area was traditionally called “Hulbert’s Block” (or perhaps “Hurlbutt’s,” for the famed Weston family). This is the first time he’s seen it called “Post Office Block.”

The post office is at the far right (with a bicycle leaning against the pole). A store belonging to Wm. E. Nash is in the center.

As a bonus, here’s the back of the postcard:

friday-flashback

The sender — “Leffer” — tells Miss Jeannette Smith (in beautiful penmanship) that’s he (or she) has marked the building in which he (or she) will live with an “X.” You can see it on the far right of the postcard — just above the post office.

Meanwhile — totally coincidentally — just yesterday I received this photo from Lee  Saveliff.

It shows the entire block — this time, from the perspective of the corner of the Post Road near Main Street. Taylor Place is on the left. Club Grill later became Muriel’s Diner. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

taylor-place-and-club-grill

Lee says that her great-grandparents — Leonard and Julia Gault — owned the Club Grill building. The larger one — closer to the river and bridge, with Pat’s Diner and Achorn’s Pharmacy (!) — was owned by the Klaff family.

This shot looks to be from the 1940s or ’50s. In November of 1974, the block burned to the ground. Lee saw the flames from her home, on Imperial Avenue.

68 responses to “Friday Flashback #28

  1. How well I remember the Club Grill on the corner and Achorns Pharmacy. Thanks for the flashback

  2. Mary von Liebermann

    Remember Fanny Goodwin’s and The Debbie Den?

  3. Michael Calise

    Club Grill was operated by the Papageorge Family Uncles of Lee Papageorge

  4. I remember all those places – Achorn’s, the Club Grill, and there was a barber shop there that I went to. When I was 8 or 9 I used to go to the Club Grill and order a ham sandwich (10 cents). I was so fussy about having the fat trimmed off the one thin slice of ham that I became known as “NoFat” to the owner and staff. Achorn’s Drug Store (“pharmacy” was not a common term then) was also a restaurant during the day with tables in the center of the store and a soda fountain. They had delicious tunafish sandwiches for 25 cents but that was usually more than I could afford. The soda fountain operated into the evening and Mrs. Achorn made a good milkshake in spite of being a tough woman with a voice that could break glass and an evident dislike of kids. The soda fountain counter also had cockroaches running regularly and I have a permanent memory of once blowing one out of straw. Years later, Achorn’s was an after-school hangout for the Staples crowd.
    The fire didn’t burn the whole block “to the ground” but mostly the main building which had studios and apartments above. The fire started long after midnight so few people saw it, unlike the 70’s fire up on Main St. that had a full, close range audience.

  5. I never saw that image of the “Post Office block”. It was 100x prettier than the existing building! What a shame…thanks for sharing.

  6. WAS IT ACHORN’S PHARMACY OR COLGANS?

    RE THE CLUB GRILL,” WE” USED TO CALL IT THE LAWYERS CLUB . .SO MANY ATE THERE SOMETIMES DAILY . .BEN GUNN, EDDIE GARLICK, NED DIMES, STEVE TATE, ED CAPASSE, WALTER ANDREWS, THAD COWELL,
    HEREWARD “WAKIE” WAKE , ,EVEN HARRY SHERWOOD ON OCCASION

    • Wakie and Ginny Wake were my mom and dad’s best friends for 30 years, and they rest still close,next to Roger (Nick) and Jane Neidlinger in adjoining plots in the Congregational cemetery up near Dead Man’s Brook. the pictures and all, Dan; seems like just yesterday, for a moment…..

  7. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I remember the Club Grill and the Papageorge family. My mother worked in the upstairs offices facing what is now the Westport Library (built on the town dump). She was a secretary for Wake, See & Dimes Attorneys. When the fire happened she decided it was time to retire.

  8. Bonnie Bradley

    Colgan’s was on the other corner, where Tiffany is now. Peter is so right about Mrs. Achorn – I was scared to death to go in the store when I was a little girl & never ventured in alone, only when I was with my grandmother Bradley & I could hide behind her. Don’t remember ever eating there; my grandmother was quite fastidious. Drug stores doubled as liquor stores too in those days… for “medicinal” purposes, of course. LOL

    • WHAT OTHER CORNER? COLGAN’S AAND CLUB GRILL ON TAYLOR PLACE CORNERS
      THE Y AND THE LIBRARY WERE ON THE MAIN STREET CORNERS. I ONLY REMEMBER ACHORNS ON MAIN STREET IN THE HURLBET BUILDING.

  9. Wendy Kramer Posner

    From the small world department – I currently live at 5533 Kimbark on the South Side of Chicago – 6550 Kimbark is in the heart of Woodlawn. Both addresses blocks from the University of Chicago Campus. Westport has a long reach!

  10. Mary Schmerker, Staples 1958

    Bonnie is right about Colgans being where Tiffany’s is now. By the early 1950’s I remember Colgans Soda Fountain Counter as it was described and a row or two of either booths or tables where you could eat. Cherry Cokes were a favorite. A bunch of us would walk down from Bedford Jr. High ( The old Location at the top of the hill on the post road.) to get the town bus out to the Clinton Avenue area. By the time we were at Staples High School on Riverside the town bus would pick us up in front of Assumption Church but we wold frequently walk to Main Street/ Post Road corner and Colgans to get the bus there. for the fun of hanging out and on occasion to get a Coke.

    • At some point — either before or after — wasn’t Colgan’s also called Thompson’s?

      • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

        It might have been. I really don’t remember. Colgans stuck with me for a personal reason. From Jr. High on my best friend and I walked to Colgans after school to catch the bus. She lived off North Compo. She died suddenly while on vacation in 1956. Her grave site in Willowbrook was near the Colgan family plot. Her family and mine were close and she was just days older than I was. Our parents used to fondly remember Colgans as our gathering spot and would joke that it was perfect that she was so close to it in eternity. All that said to say you are probably right about it becoming Thompson’s!

  11. I’m almost certain it was Thompson’s when we moved here in ’63.

  12. Dan – you are right, Colgan’s became Thompsons sometime in the late 1950’s.

  13. B & W photo was before 1952. In 52, Achorn’s was located on Main Street south of Aver Place next to Gristede’s. I moved to Westport in 52 and joined the Westport PD in 59. In 53 I worked at Gristede’s right next to Achorns. The Papageorge family operated the Club Grill until it became Muriel’s diner. I don’t ever recall Pat’s Diner in photo, so that also dates the photo prior to the 50’s. I was on duty the night of the fire. It was a big fire that caused a lot of damage, but the buildings did not burn to the ground. Colgan’s, across Taylor Pkace from the Club Grill was a favorite high school hangout for all of us. Mrs. Achorn always scared the kids but she did serve a great milkshake. Colgan’s was smoke- damaged in a fire in the early 60′;s, when the Ship’s Lantern Restaurant located next door, burned. Another restaurant fire occurred at the Town Grill, located on Main Street next to Kliien’s. That was in the 60’s too.

    • DICK ALLEY – WASN’T THE “TOWN GRILL”
      NAMED TOWNLY? I REMEMBER THAT AFTER THE FIRE KLEINS BOUGHT THE PROPERTY AND ENLARGED THEIR STORE . .AND WHAT A STORE IT WAS

  14. Robert Bernard

    The Barber Shop that Peter Barlow told about was also the first barber I went to, or rather where my mother dropped me off at and told the Barber, “No Clippers.” The barber was Carlo Romeo, and his son, Orlando Romeo, was a barber there in later years, and Orlando is still a barber in Westport.
    Next to the Club Grill there was a NewsStand and then the barber shop.

  15. What a visual feast.

    Kinda hurts my heart to consider the small tragedy of fecal colored brick which replaced it.

    On the upside, it’s been a good week: the little red house is probably safe.

    And that’s something.

  16. Does anyone know when the post office moved to its later location at the corner of Bay Street? My father started working at the Westport Post Office in the 1920’s and I always assumed it was the later location but now I’m wondering.

    • Bill, the nice Lancing Holden designed post office building on Bay Street has, if I recall correctly, a date of 1935 on its (front left) cornerstone. BTW, I sure miss, among other things, its nice brass and oak p.o. boxes!

  17. The Post office on the corner of Bay St. was definitely a product of the WPA during the depression. I’m sure there’s a date on the cornerstone. You can see similar buildings in Fairfield and Darien. I had not paid attention to all those little businesses along that stretch after the Post Office moved. We have so few commercial buildings from the Victorian period left in town. Many of the Victorian façades on Main street have been glossed over. I was sad to hear of the fire in ’74. In ’71 I had patronized a leather craft store at the west end of the building. Hippies had taken over several of the apartments above and the building looked pretty neglected.

  18. Before the post office was at the corner of Bay Street it was in the Dixon building diagonally across the Post Road. I think it was the Dixon building – at least it was across the street. My parents had box No.277.

  19. Gee — I feel like such a newcomer. I moved to Westport in 1983, and Klaff’s was in their building, where South Moon Under is now. And Ships was where Tiffany is. And the Fairfield Furniture Building was unoccupied with several pre-fabs behind it. The Old Library was still in use, there was a nice men’s shop called Hickory and Tweed on Main Street, a silver jewelry store called Aspasia, and Laura Ashley. How much has changed in only 34 years!

  20. Wendy Kramer Posner

    Does anyone remember that there was a bakery (name?) a few doors up the Post Road from Colgans? Ot that Restoration Hardware was formerly a movie theater?

    • Was the bakery Marvel’s?

      • Wendy Kramer Posner

        Yes, the bakery was marvels and if memory serves, I think it was a Swedish Bakery, perhaps family run? Stop one after school was a pickle at (the old narrow) Oscar’s and then on for a sugar cookie at Marvel”s. Teen treat was a plate of fries at The Club Grill.

    • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

      I definitely remember that Restoration Hardware was a movie theater. I saw Wizard of OZ there as a kid and was scared to death by the witch. And yes, I remember the bakery and I am pretty sure that it was Marvel’s and most assuredly it was a family business.

  21. FINE ARTS MOVIE HOUSE, TIPPY SCHAFFERS SPORTING GOODS, MAX’S ART SUPPLIES, MARVELS BAKERY, SHIPS LANTERN, COLGANS. THERE MAY HAVE BEEN ANOTHER SHOP IN THE GROUP BUT CAN’T REMEMBER WHAT/WHO

    TO DAN’S READERS: I HAVE POOR EYESIGHT AND THAT IS WHY I TYPE IN CAPS. PLEASE DO NOT THINK I’M “SCREAMING”. THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING

  22. ANOTHER PLACE THAT COMES TO MIND IS TAYLORS FLORIST ON TAYLORS PLACE. OWNED OR RUN BY LARRY MILLS

    • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

      YES! And I am using caps on purpose. For years Mrs. Mills, (I’m pretty sure her first name was Betty but because I was young I always addressed her as Mrs.Mills) Worked first at Follow Florists. My mother used to also fill in there at Christmas time making fresh wreaths. Later she opened her own shop, Taylor Florists. She did the flowers for my wedding in 1966. She and Mr .Mills had twins, Grover and Gail. Mr.Mills was one of the Postmen. What wonderful memories this post is sparking.

      • Elizabeth “Betty” Church Blake was married to Lawrence “Larry” Herbert Mills. Larry was a letter carrier for many years.

  23. In poking around, I have found that it was called “Hurlbutt” not Hulbert, at least in the 1917 directory. Which is consistent with people forever trying to “correct” the spelling of such an odd seeming name. There were also the traditional three post offices at the time, Westport, Saugatuck, and Greens Farms. The one for Westport being in the building discussed. In 1933 and 1935 it was located at 60 East State, which I believe to currently be number 155 Post Road East, also known as the TSE Building. This would be consistent with what I was told once time, and was confirmed by the Oracle of All Buildings, Sven at the Historical Society. By 1937 it had moved to 69 East State. This would be consistent with moving the more well known location in the center of town, as it is across the street from the TSE Building

  24. Wendy Kramer Posner

    Westport Taxi also had its office there for a few years.

  25. Judith Seitz Richmond

    Across Taylor Place from the Club Grill was Colgans drug store, now Tiffany. It is pictured in the July 29, 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post cover by Steven Dohanos. The model was Dell Stone who lived on Wright Street.

    Around the corner the hardware store sign would have been Welch’s Hardware on Main Street on the cover of the March 16 1946 cover. I remember old Mr Welch.

  26. Wendy Kramer Posner

    Where was Dorains?

    • Wasn’t Dorains on Main Street, near Ben Franklins or up a bit by Trudy Gary’s?

      • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

        Domains, I am pretty sure was between a restaurant and Ben Franklin. It had a soda counter but no extra seating in my memory.

    • Dorains was on Main St. on the river side, across and down towards
      the Library a couple of doors from Walt’s Mobil Gas Station . They had a great little soda fountain. Also sold booze (lots of it) after the War. handpacked Louis Sherry vanilla icecream was $2 a quart at Dorains, and if Dora liked you, she’d give you a little cone of it for free as she handed your dad his quart.

    • Across the street from Klein’s

  27. Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

    Several people have mentioned a Barber Shop but not by the name I knew it. The one I remember was Jimmy De’ Maria’s. It has an old fashioned barber Pole out front.

    • Mary, if you click on or hover to the photo Lee Saveliff sent (to enlarge it), you can see the barber pole!

      • The barber pole in the picture is not Jimmy DeMaria’s shop. His was in the block between the Fine Arts Theater and Colgan’s drug store. And my memory of the ticket price at the movie matinee was 10 cents, but few years earlier than Bonnie’s recollection, which is a too high even later.
        Hi Bonnie!

    • Steve Dohanos did a Post cover of Jimmy de Maria cutting hair in his
      shop just down from the Fine Arts. anyone know whose hair he is cutting
      in that painting ?

    • Mary (Cookman) Schmerker Staples 1958

      Well, that what I get for not reading all the way done before answering. I was almost certain that there was a Chinese restaurant just around the corner form the Library. Between us all we will reconstruct Main Street and the Post Road in the good old days.

  28. Bonnie Bradley

    Yes, Mary, I too remember the Fine Arts Theater (today site of Restoration Hardware) very well. I think kid’s tickets were $1 or $2 for the matinee. Best remember one Saturday afternoon when I was with a couple of girlfriends and was suddenly hit hard in the back of my head with a golf ball size wad of pink bubble gum – thrown by Tom Scully from a couple of rows back. It hurt and the boys behind us were all laughing. Tom was such an annoying kid and I hardly knew him anyway, just sort of knew who he was. Being a very shy 12-13 yr. old, I just sat there and pretended nothing had happened. My hair was long and my mother had to cut a big chunk of it out right at my scalp, which took months to grow back. And, yes I know it was Tom because he laughingly bragged about it years later. What a jerk. LOL

  29. AH MAIN STREET: WEST LAKE CHINESE RESTAURANT, WELCH’S HARDWARE (FRED JACKSON), WESTPORT FOOD MARKET, GREENBERG’S DEPARTMENT STORE (NOT NAT), THE PICKWICK SHOP , SOMEPLACE WHERE HENRY KLEIN GOT HIS START,, DORAINS DRUG STORE, THE LINEN CLOSET, OSCARS, BILL’S SMOKE SHOP (WSPT PIZZERIA WAS LATER), SWAZEYS JEWELERS , SLOANES FURNITURE WHICH BURNED DOWN AND WAS REBUILT BY NAT GREENBERG AS WESTPORT HARDWARE (LATER OWNED BY TEDDY BROIDO) . . . AND THE BOOKSHOP AT THE CORNER; AND ACROSS MAIN STREET (THE EAST SIDE) IN THE HURLBUT BUILDING WAS ACHORNS PHARMACY, THEN IN THE
    TEUSCHER BUILDING THERE WAS; SHIELDS MENSWEAR(MIKE HYMAN/PACK ROADS) ON
    THE FIRST FLOOR, FASHION FABRICS ON THE
    SECOND FLOOR, CHANTICLEER ON THE FIRST FLOOR, BOB BEACHES ICECREAM PARLOR (THE ORIGINAL) SUBSEQUENTLY RUN BY ?HARRISON AND THEN IN 1958 CHEZ; PIERRE. JOHN BOYD HAD AN OFFICE ON THE THIRD FLOOR. THEN IN THE NEXT BUILDING STILL ON THE TEUSCHER PROPERTY (142-144-146 MIN STREET) WAS WESTPORT FURS ON THE FIRST FLOOR, JASON RAUM’S JEWELERS AND BARNUM TRAVEL ON THE SECOND FLOOR, AND I THINK ALICE RAMSEY ON THE THIRD FLOOR. NEXT IN SEQUENCE WAS THE LOT AT THE NORTH CORNER OF ELM STRRET WITH A BIG OLD GREY HOUSE ON IT. BABS BROOKS (B.V.SR) BOUGHT THE PROPERTY AND BUILT BROOKS CORNER WHERE AMONGST OTHER THINGS HE FOUNDED THE WESTPORT NEWS, ON THE SOUTH CORNER OF ELM AND MAIN WAS A GAS STATION (I THINK MOBIL), HARTMANNS HARDWARE (BILLY BETTS), , A SHOE/SPORT STORE, THE LIQUOR LOCKER (HARVEY SKOLNICK), THE TOWNLEY RESTAURANT (WHICH BURNED DOWN AND WAS PURCHASED BY HENRY KLEIN AND ADDED ON TO KLEINS STATIONERY(44 MAIN STREET),
    A FISH STORE WTH A JEWELRY REPAIR SHOP UPSTAIRS, I THINK ANOTHER BAKERY – NOT SURE – SOME KIND OF COFFEE SHOP – NOT SURE – AND OF COURSE THE “Y… I MAY HAVE OVERLOOKED SOME PLACES OR FAILED TO NAME PREVIOUS TENANTS/OWNERS. ANYONE WHON CAN FILL IN THE GAPS?

  30. Sally Campbell Palmer

    I worked at a shop called Amanda’s in the middle of the river side of Main St. in the mid 50s. .Beautiful gift ware and the only place in town I can remember that did gourmet take out food. It was well before the parking lot was built and all water and waste went straight through the pipes and into the river. I also walked from Bedford Jr High and Staples to get a ride home with my mom who worked for the Town Crier, next to Schafer’s. Marvels bakery was German. There was a bowling alley across from the Post Office and a very popular bar where a lot of the artists hung out. Great town!

  31. OBVIOUSLY MANY OF YOU KNEW MAIN STREET BEFORE I CAME TO WESTPORT IN 1956. WAS BEN FRANKLINS NEXT TO WESTPORT FOOD MKT AND/OR GREENSBERG’S DEPT STORE? AND WHO OCCUPIED THE SPACE TAKEN OVER BY DANNY COUGHLIN’S SPORT MART?

  32. MORE: Gristede’s was near where the Sport Mart is(or was). Shilepsky’s clothing store was next to the YWCA and was later Hollister’s Music Room. The De-Lite Bakery was further up and sold air-filled cupcakes, no match for Marvel’s European goodies. A Five & Ten store preceded Klein’s on that side of the road (Klein’s was first on the river side.) Dorain’s drugstore and Hartman’s Hardware, opposite one another, were the next-to-last stores of Main Street shopping and two gas stations faced each other after those. On the river side past the gas station were tenement houses, borderline slums as I remember. A first grade classmate lived in one.

    • i lived in one. i rented a room in a tall gray apartment house from a lady
      named Mildred Palmer who had a half of the third floor and who worked
      across the street at the very fashionable Dress Box. i worked as a clerk in the equally fashionable Frank Zack’s mens apparel store on the river side of Main for a few months before the famous Max Kaminsky, a jazz trumpeter from NYC who summered near Cedar Point and used me on gigs, talked me into moving to NYC, where i went to work at Eddie Condon’s almost immediately, putting an end to my future in haberdashery. summer 1955.

      hi Peter.
      hi Bonnie.
      let’s spend a few late afternoon hours back on the Cedar Point
      Yacht Club porch…..

    • Peter, you mentioned the YWCA – was that separate from the the YMCA? Also does anyone know when the rear parking (Parker Harding Plaza) was completed?

      • Bill, The “Y” had a side entrance on Main Street that was designated YWCA. I don’t know much about how it operated inside. Maybe they’re all merged together now. I hope so. The Parker-Harding Plaza opened on June 27, 1955.

  33. Wendy Kramer Posner

    Country Gal?

  34. Bonnie Bradley

    Oh, Mary.. Just saw your comment re the bubble-gum-embedded-in-my-hair incident so long ago. I soon got over it, but was really mad at the time. Yuck. Tom was what he was. Actually don’t know why I made the comment anyway – just a silly whim @ Wspt in the good old days. Thanks for the thought…

  35. Anyone know where Driscoll’s Drug Store was? I believe it preceded Colgans. I have a copy of an order form. No address, but the phone # was 3886. They advertised a Wombath Rental Library and Wines, Beer and Liquor. My father worked the counter in the 1930’s. I think it was owned by his uncle. Anyone know anything more about this?

  36. Richard Seclow

    I hope my memory’s engaged by claiming that “323” was a fish market in 1960. I also remember that Manhattan’s “Maude Chez Elle” also had branch there.

    I hope there’s someone standing who can verify these memories.

    Dick Seclow

    Sent from my iPad Richard S. Seclow 44 Redding Rd. Easton, CT 06612 P-203-261-6013 F- 203-459-1947 rsseclow@optonline.net

    >

  37. Selective Eye, The African Room, Rachna of India, The Liverpool, Buffalo Clothiers, Plumed Serpent, Trudy Gary, Henry Lehr, Functional Clothing were where I got all my clothes in the 60s. I remember Thompson’s on the corner with the wooden floors and soda fountain. It was where Buffalo opened, then it was part of Ships…I also remember when the block where Muriels diner was burned, Greenberg’s ceiling fell in from too much snow, and the Furniture store burned down…I loved downtown in the 60’s and 70s…When we moved to Weston, I would hitch hike to Westport all the time to hang out, Weston was pretty boring back then !