Sitting presidents seldom come to Westport.
George Washington did. He stayed at Marvin Tavern, near the present-day Post Road West and Kings Highway South. The owner went all out to prepare a feast, but the Father of Our Country ate and drank sparingly. Though he appreciated the effort, he was not pleased with his accommodations.
For unrelated reasons, there was then a century and a half gap until the next presidential visit.
The honor went to Franklin Roosevelt. On October 22, 1936 — 87 years ago this Sunday — he made a brief stop here, after a re-election campaign tour of upstate Connecticut.
A large crowd gathered on the steps of what was then the YMCA (today, it’s Anthropologie). Students had been dismissed early to see the president.
FDR waved his hat at the crowd and said, “I am honored by the wonderful reception the people of Connecticut have given me. But even more than that, I think that this year, men and women ar taking more interest in the future of their nation than ever before, and reading and thinking for themselves above all.”
The crowd waits for President Roosevelt — whose name was misspelled by the local newspaper.
He won that second term — and then an unprecedented 2 more elections.
When President Roosevelt died just 3 months after his 4th inauguration, stores closed here.
On April 18, 1945, residents gathered on Jesup Green for a memorial service. They sang “America,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and “Abide with Me.”
It took another half century before the next sitting president arrived. He was Bill Clinton — and he returned twice more, in the next 15 months. All were fundraising events.
The next — and only other sitting president — to come to Westport was Barack Obama. He too was here to raise money.
President Obama’s motorcade at Harvey Weinstein’s Beachsdie Avenue home, in 2012. The home of the disgraced former movie producer has since been demolished.
FUN FACT: President Roosevelt’s grandson David lived in Westport during the 1980s and ’90s. He was active in local Democratic politics.
50 years ago this week:
Rippe Farms promoted its large selection of pumpkins.
The farms — on North Avenue near Long Lots Road, and off Turkey Hill Road South — supplied Rippe’s farm stand on the Post Road.
It’s located on the current site of Harvest Commons.
And you wondered where that name of those condos came from …