Friday Flashback #154

The opening of the transformed Westport Library brought back memories of the original — and reminders, once again, that it was built on what was once the “town dump.”

Alert — and historic minded — “06880” reader Fred Cantor found a fascinating aerial photo, published by the Town Crier in 1965

(Photo/Robert Lentini)

Back then, the library was located in the building at the lower left of the photo. Today it’s the site of Starbucks, Freshii and other tenants.

Across the Post Road — at the foot of what we now call the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge — is a block of shops and apartments that burned in the late 1960s or early ’70s. Today it’s South Moon Under, and other stores.

But the most fascinating part of the photo is seen beyond Jesup Green and the Taylor Place parking lot. There — in the center of town — sat the Rogers Little League baseball diamond. The dugouts are about where the upper entrance to the library lot is today. (Why is it so bumpy now? Landfill.)

Unfortunately, the photo does not show what lies beyond left and center field. That was the town dump.

It smelled. It attracted seagulls. It was not uncommon for the birds to swoop near unsuspecting outfielders, attempting to catch flies (the baseball variety).

Around that time — perhaps a few years later — Westport artist Arthur Cady drew a series of Westport scenes.

(Illustration by Arthur Cady/courtesy of Jim Ezzes)

This one may have been a bit of artistic license. I don’t think the dump was quite that close to downtown.

But it sure was near to what is now Tiffany, nestling right behind on Taylor Place.

13 responses to “Friday Flashback #154

  1. My memory of it is all that is now the Levitt and its parking area was the town dump. Some school-related thing brought me there for the opening of the first Recycling program. And I played many a game on that ballfield, my Uncle Bill umpiring a few of the games.

  2. Dan (and Fred) — Thanks for reviving a great Westport memory. I recall playing Little League games at that field. I also remember layers of trash along the sides of the field as you approached, an especially pungent odor when the wind blew in a certain direction, and lots of seagulls circling for scraps. There were many reasons for shutting down the field, but I heard that a player sliding into home broke his leg on a piece of metal sticking out near home plate. Suburban legend or reality? Not sure, but some of our recreational spots were a lot less polished than they are today…

  3. Jessup Green, Good Grief! Going back even further was the annual Westport Women’s Club Fourth of July event on the green. Probably a fund raiser but I’m not sure. I recall that the event featured a raffle for a Cadillac convertible. My dad always bought his One raffle ticket. Didn’t seem to matter, as the car was usually won by the member of one of Westport’s Italian families.

  4. Joyce Barnhart

    There were concerns about methane gas seeping from the covered garbage and the danger of explosions. Vent pipes were installed and I would bet that lower levels of the library had, and maybe still have, a system for abatement of any gas seepage.

    • Michael Calise

      I recollection is that you are right. I also remember that the original Levitt Pavilion was strapped to pilings so it could be lowered as the ground around it settled.

  5. I can remember driving to the dump with truckloads of debris from the construction site at the Weston Shopping Center which my father, Phillips B. Taylor was building in the late 1940’s/early 1950’s. This is such an improvement for the town.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Karl I worked for your father and uncle after school and while I was searching for my 1st job after college. Both great guys and a fun place to work. Customers would come in to buy their paint and I would say to them “you really don’t want to do that yourself do you?” I spent my days at House of Wares and my nights painting their customers’ interiors.

      • It’s a small world. A few weeks ago, Norman Tinker, Staples Class of 1950 with me, passed away in Maine. His brother, Wayne contacted me and he, too, had a story about working for my Dad. Wayne was working as a mason’s helper and I worked with him carrying cement and bricks to build the Weston Shopping Center. Soon thereafter my brothers Paul and Phil and I were all in the Army during the Korean conflict. My Dad wrote to us EVERY day. He used carbon paper in his letters so we all got the same news. The war took his three boys and left him to handle his growing business.

  6. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    The dump was also down on the river below Longshore. Can’t remember the exact dates. As to the Women’s Club, they were up in arms. But Westport ladies are high minded so they protested by staging a “tea party on the dump.” Both my grandmothers were involved. Also involved was Ruth Steinkraus Cohen (before she got her bridge).
    Dan you have an uncanny way of bringing back old memories.

  7. Michael Brennecke

    The main dump was actually where they now have the farmers market before moving it to where the library now sits. I grew up across from the Women Club on Imperial. The dump was a great source of building materials for our forts in the nearby woods. Fond part of my childhood.

  8. The building burned on Thanksgiving Weekend if 1974 under suspicious circumstances. We lost Muriel’s Diner, which is just visible on the left hand side.
    Well known Architect Joe Salerno told the Library Committee that the new Library would need piling to stabilize the building, they didn’t listen , which is why the then new building immediately starting sinking…..

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