Friday Flashback #324

In the early 1920s, postcards were a popular way of communicating. They were quick, cheap — and the fronts told stories of where the writers happened to be.

Even if artists sometimes took liberties with their scenes.

Seth Schachter collects old Westport postcards. This one intrigued him, because the vista is so hard to determine.

Is this an actual Westport vista? If so, from where? What are those buildings, on the left and in the distance?

Click “Comments” to offer your thoughts.

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21 responses to “Friday Flashback #324

  1. Gloria Gouveia

    Where is the view identified as Westport, CT ?

  2. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Looking down at Riverside Ave from the Post Rd. That church steeple is probably Assumption Church. It’s an artist’s interpretation. Folly to get literal about it.

  3. Gloria has a valid point. I’ve never seen a post card that didn’t identify the location.

  4. it came from Seth’s collection. I’m sure it’s either on the front or back.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      “Give me your tired. Your poor. Your double parked at Starbucks, yearning to break free…”

    • Seth Schachter

      Dan- out of town so I don’t have access to my card. I know it does in fact say Westport Conn on the other side. I believe I had sent you the image of the other side.

  5. Eric, Was Assumption Church around in 1920 or 1927? My grandfather was one of the founders of St. Anthony’s Church, in Fairfield, around 1927. As far as that postcard is concerned, it’s hard to believe the open space pictured in the post card, and the church steeple could be a true representation. I’d like to hear from others.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

      Hi Jack I’m pretty sure it was. My family moved to town in 1930 so I can’t swear to it.

  6. Jacques Voris

    I would guess that it is the Post Road looking west. The church being Saugatuck Congregational. As you will recall, before the 1950’s the church was on the other side of the street, and further to the east. Also, my mother has mentioned several times how “downtown ended at Imperial” when she was a kid, so fields would still be possible in the 1920s. Lastly, it can’t be Riverside looking down from the Post Road, as the church is on the wrong side of the road. It also couldn’t be Riverside looking up as the fields would be too wide to fit between the road and the river.

  7. As every postcard collector knows, there were all kinds of postcards “back in the day.” The most elegant ones were printed in Germany in the 20s – I have one of those of the Bridgeport Railroad Station. But many cards were just stock photos, or paintings, that could be from anywhere. Better cards showed actual places that they identified. If they just said “Greetings from….” they didn’t have to be actual views.

    • To sum up, this picture is a painting. It’s not a view of any place in Westport. It doesn’t claim to be.

      • It’s really a rather attractive painting. But you know there were never that many buildings in Westport with red roofs – like all of them.

  8. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    Guys!!!! Chill!!!! Artists often take liberties when transferring images from their eyes to their mind’s eye to the canvas (assuming the medium in this case was canvas). Don’t worry about establishing beyond a scintilla of doubt that this visual representation is Westport. Just appreciate it for what it is, it may not be of Westport. And as hard as it may be to accept, the artist may not have been a Westporter at all. And horror of horrors, he/she/it may not have attended Staples. It could even have been painted by a Stamford Catholic grad who was seeking vengeance the year that we beat the shit out of them on the gridiron. GO WRECKERS!!!!

  9. Linda Pomerantz Novis

    Agree with Eric-:-)

  10. Seth Schachter

    Ok all – I’m back in town and have details of the reverse side. Don’t think I know how to post but hopefully Dan will post it. The back does NOT say ‘Greetings from Westport’ etc. — I realize that this was often done with stock photos etc. from the time period. This card on reverse reads “Rally Day In Our School” and then hand written ‘next Sunday’ – ‘We want every pupil present. Let us have a rousing beginning of our winter work’ Cordially yours’ and then signed – I.W. Kemper.

    I know Kemper was a well known name from this time period including from the old Tannery. The card is post marked Westport and dated October 14 1913.

    Thoughts everyone ?????????

  11. Here is the back side of the postcard Seth Schachter sent (click link below). He writes:

    “It provides clarity, since it talks about ‘Rally Day’ and even has the name ‘Kemper’ on the card, a well known Westport family name. Also post marked in Westport.

    “I 100 percent agree that if said ‘greetings from Westport’ then it would likely be just a stock photo. But with this added details on the opposite side, maybe it wasn’t a stock photo.”

  12. Wendy Crowther

    I’m late picking up on this story but here may be some hints about the author and recipient. According to the 1917 Westport Directory (which served much like a town address book in its day), the writer of the card was likely I. W. Kemper who was Imogene W. Kemper, wife of Frederick Kemper. In 1917, Frederick was listed as retired and he and wife were living on Owenoke. He had served as Westport’s First Selectman in 1907. The receiver appears to be Mrs. Margaret Sniffen who in 1917 was listed as the widow of Joseph Sniffen – she lived on Washington Ave.

    Charles Kemper was the founder of the Kemper Tannery (Charles Jr. ran it later). I think Fred Kemper was a son or brother (I’d have to dig into my files to be sure). The Kemper Tannery was originally in today’s Westport Playhouse but later moved to Riverside Ave. Fred Kemper sold land to the town of Westport to build a new town hall in 1908. Today that building houses Don Memo restaurant in downtown Westport.

    I’m suspicious about the postcard scene. Red roofs were definitely not a style used in Westport. Maybe there’s artistic license being exercised but, based on all the historical photos I’ve looked at over the years, the view doesn’t register for me.

    • Seth Schachter

      Thanks Wendy for all of that info! I do tend to agree that the red roofs were certainly not the style used in Westport back then. So certainly makes sense that it was a ‘stock image’ used or perhaps the ‘artistic license’ — either way — makes for an interesting post card that I had not seen before up until now.

  13. Werner Liepolt

    From the several “Methodist” postcards that say “Rally for our school” that show up on an internet search, it looks to me as if this postcard is one of several the Methodists published to support their Sunday schools nationwide. So the red steepled church and the person walking may just be an idyllic, generic representation of a Sunday morning.