As plans to renovate the Westport Inn move through the application process — the 116-room hotel will be downsized and upgraded to 85 rooms, with more landscaping, a 3-story addition, demolition of the front building, a pool, rear dining terrace, and driveway and parking improvements — let’s look back, to its earlier incarnations.
The New Englander Motor Hotel was perfect for the 1960s. It welcomed weary Connecticut Turnpike travelers at Exits 18 and 19. Amenities included a pool (with, for a while, “memberships” offered to Westporters).
The postcard above is an accurate rendition of the rooms facing the rear (north), and the pool.
I’m not sure what the view in the front shows, though. That’s not exactly the Post Road, and the stores on the other side.
The Westport Inn/New Englander has been a hospitable spot for a century. Long before motels, it was the site of Mathewson’s Tourist Cabins. They were all the rage when motoring was new.
The Turnpike (now called I-95) was still in the future. The drive between New York and Boston could be long; driving on the Post Road was tedious. The “motor cabins” offered a welcome respite.
“Tourist cabins” eventually morphed into “motor courts,” then “motels.” A few still survive.
One is the Norwalk Westport Motel.
It’s in Norwalk; presumably “Westport” sneaks into the name because 1) it’s kind of near the border, and 2) in Norwalk, the Post Road is called “Westport Avenue.”
In 2022, the Norwalk Westport Motel has seen better days.
Some of those days can be seen in this postcard, courtesy of Carl Swanson:
I have no idea what the room rate was, back then.
But gas was probably 39 cents a gallon.
(Gas is no longer 39 cents a gallon. Please click here to support “06880.”)