Friday Flashback #170

This aerial fascinating photo of downtown Westport in the 1930s was posted to Facebook by Bill Stanton.

The view is toward the east (top).

Among the intriguing sights:

  • At the bottom is National Hall. Just to its north sits a substantial-looking building that must have been torn down long ago. Today it’s the site of Bartaco.
  • The bridge across the Saugatuck River is much narrower than the current span. The river itself is wider than at present. Parker Harding Plaza has not yet been built. Water laps up against the back of buildings on the west side of Main Street.
  • The Westport Public Library (now a pop-up art gallery, at 1 Main Street) is the large building just to the left of the eastern end of the bridge.
  • Look closely (top center). You can see the gas station that is now Vineyard Vines.

What else do you notice? Click “Comments” below.

17 responses to “Friday Flashback #170

  1. No Harder Parking 😉 Plaza yet

  2. Hi Dan — Love this shot! I see the wrap-around brick building (former Art’s Deli, etc.) at western edge of bridge. Also Vigilante firehouse just to left of large tree at bottom. House at water’s edge is former Pack Roads (wow, I’m dating myself!). Prominence of Gorham Island sticking out at top left. At very top left, think that was old Victorian-style home on property called “Duck Haven”, now doctor’s offices.

  3. Parker Harding Plaza was the worst thing to ever be built in Westport in my opinion.

  4. The building on the lower right hand side, on the corner of the Post Road and Riverside Avenue was where my father, Russell Kuhner, had his studio and darkroom in the late 40s and early 50s. Before the war he was a clerk at the Westport Bank and Trust Co. in the building which is now Patagonia. He became a photographer when he got our the army at the end of the war. In the early 50s, he moved his studio and darkroom to 17 Main Street. That was about the time when the town filled in the river behind the buildings on the west side of main street to make the parking lot.

  5. Toll bridge!

  6. This view surprised me because it’s so different from my 1947 photo of the back of Main St. In that view (which you have) the buildings are built right out to the wall. But it was a closer view. Here we have a real panorama of structures, more memories than I have!

  7. J. (aka: John, aka "Jack") Wandres

    You all know, of course, that National Hall was the very first high school in Westport, long before Staples High (my alma mater in 1953) was built on Saugatuck Avenue, but which is now for tiny-tots.

    • Hi Jack,

      Yes, National Hall was the site of the first classes for Staples High School students (not many — just a few dozen). However, it was not “long before” Staples was built on Riverside (not Saugatuck) Avenue. National Hall was used for only a few months, from when the school was founded by Horace Staples, until the building on Riverside was completed. The year was 1884.

      And there was a reason National Hall was used: Mr. Staples owned the bank on the first floor!

      Glad you’re still in touch with Westport and your alma mater. Happy holidays!

  8. Elizabeth Thibault

    It looks like it was navigable under the bridge, for barges and smaller boats. Anyone here know for certain?

    • I am curious too. did the bridge ever open? When was further down river that boats would be able to go to?

      • The whole reason for Saugatuck and Westport to be where they are was for commerce by water.

        • I am aware but wondering what was further down the river (if anything) marine commerce related and whether the bridge opened. Would love to learn more about the Saugatuck River.

          • All the bridges opened (except perhaps Kingshighway). Products and produce from Westport were shipped all over the world. There’s information on the Internet.

  9. I am just amazed @ the majesty of the river- I did notice right away how much wider it was. Does anyone know the process of how it came to be the way it is now/in recent memory? And the bridge is also correspondingly wide- it’s hard for me to make out how much higher it was than it is now. Thanks to Dan & Bill for posting this cool shot. Any idea who took the pic & why?

  10. I see this picture was posted by Bill Stanton. If memory serves (this could be all wrong) a Skip Stanton was a mailman? in Town. He was a friend of my Dads and he used to fly a plane. I could be wrong but I’m digging back almost 60 years.

  11. In the early 50s they filled in the east side of the river to make the parking lot. My father had his studio at 17Main Street with the back of the building right on the River. I remember watching the town fill in the river with stones and land full and then making a parking lot and covering with black top

  12. Trolley tracks, etched into the lighter concrete on the west side of the bridge…

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