Friday Flashback #309

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.

Look familiar?

“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.”)

14 responses to “Friday Flashback #309

  1. Dan, I remember gas at 19 cents a gallon in California and they gave you dishes and glasses to thank you for coming in. Mary Maynard. (I had trouble getting @ on comments)

  2. My family stayed at the New Englander when we first moved to Westport in 1970, because our house was not yet finished. We were there at least a week.

  3. There was a comedy club downstairs in the New Englander, and upstairs, there was dancing. I think maybe this was 1967-ish.

  4. Re: Mattewson’s Tourist Cabins; they were popular alright – just not for the purpose originally intended. The spectacle of hourly rentals sitting in plain sight finally became too much for town leaders. Their proposal: disappear the hot sheet huts and you can build big. Thus the New Englander was born.

  5. Carl Addison Swanson, '66

    The Westport – Nowalk Motel was referred to as the “best little whorehouse in Fairfield County,” back in the day. What is happening with the Westport Inn/New Englander? Why doesn’t the town buy it up and provide low income housing?

  6. Carl, If that’s the case, then I can move back to Westport. Also, thanks Dan for the street name. Dangerfield had a modest ranch house on that street.

  7. Cathy Smith Barnett '66

    There are several motels on Westport Ave in Norwalk. The one they tore down was Golden Crest with a bar/lounge/motel known back in the day as “the Golden Tryst.” It’s now Golden Crest Plaza in Norwalk just across the Westport line. There’s a strip mall with a bank, frame shop, FedEx,etc.

  8. Let’s not short sheet the Macdaddy of infidelity: The HiHo.

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