Friday Flashback #155

In early 1960, the town of Westport bought the failing private Longshore Beach & Country Club. The 169-acre property included a golf course, tennis courts, pools, marina, inn/restaurant, residential cabins, even 2 private roads.

Plus — why not? — a lighthouse.

The entire process — from concept to approval from the Board of Finance and (unanimously!) the RTM — took just 18 days.  Town officials put together a $1.9 million package, then earned approval from the Board of Finance and RTM.  The latter vote was 38-0. 

Five years later, the Westport Town Crier published a remarkable aerial photo of what was then the still-novel town-owned country club.

(Aerial photo/Robert Lentini)

Moving counter-clockwise from the center, you can see the old tennis court locker rooms, and adjacent wooden bathhouses (though you can’t see how dark they were, or smell their decades-old musty odor); the original Longshore Sailing School; several cabanas by the old pool — and, partially hidden by trees next to the marina, the circular lighthouse.

It was always a source of fascination for kids, and admiration by adults.

The lighthouse survived one demolition attempt in the late ’60s or early ’70s. Eventually — when the entrance to the pool area was modernized — it was torn down.

Here’s what we miss:

(Photo courtesy of Peter Barlow)

(Hat tip: Fred Cantor)

13 responses to “Friday Flashback #155

  1. I grew up at Longshore in the fifties.Loved the lighthouse even though it was closed off.The club was hardly failing . The owner. Julie Baller , sold the club…for financial profit ! At the time , it was said he sold it for 3 million

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  2. Eric Berniker

    Amazing…just 18 days!

    Now it takes years to see if we can add a sidewalk and safer crosswalk by Evergreen in town.

    Where have we gone wrong????

    • The sidewalk project you reference was proposed by the applicant on January 21, 2019.

  3. Many a childhood summer was spent in the pool, or as a teenager in front of the cabana at the sailing school. By the time we graduated to Racing Techniques, on calm days we’d sit outside in front of a white board learning how to tack, jibe, round the marks and block the wind of a competitor, but on small craft warning days, we’d be out on the Aquacats, trying to stay up on one Ama, screaming with delight when (not if) we capsized. The best summers one could have. Still sailing, but the boat’s a lot bigger now.

    • The old stairs from the beach to the lighthouse are still there I believe, part of the sea wall

  4. Cathy Barnett

    In the 60s we swam in the pool but there was a small stretch of beach if we wanted a little more privacy. When the lighthouse was torn down, the beach became part of the marina.

  5. . Anyone remember the lighthouse in operation? Did it have a red light, with the blinking green light being across the mouth of the River? We went on the Westport Historical Society walking tour that pointed out the remaining base of the lighthouse and speculation that The Lewis’s parties were the basis for the Gatsby parties in the book. Now where was the green light location?

    • I think it was on the long pier on the opposite side of the harbor.

    • Werner Liepolt

      The current red and green navigation lights are on a pole at the head of Strait marina.

      • The current red and green navigation lights at Compo and Straight Marianas are at different heights , with green significantly in front of red, so that a boat captain can align the lights in a vertical line and navigate down the centerline into the Marinas. I think the Green lights that I am asking about might indicate, crudely, the opening to the mouth of the Saugatuck River, between, i.e. the red and green, but navigating too close to either would be problematic. Maybe there were also navigation buoys out in the water- more like today? Fred Cantor’s comment might fit if we call the Saugatuck River “the harbor” .

  6. Were there cabins or cottages between the sailing school and the Inn?

    • Regarding the original Sailing School and its location: was this the sailing school originally founded by Bob Singlewald?

  7. Cool pictures!