Category Archives: Downtown

Westport’s Oldest Bank?

The other day, alert “06880” reader Peter Tulupman noticed something strange on the side of the Bank of America building downtown.

bank-of-america-1

High up on the side was the numeral “1806.”

That’s not the street number — it’s 126 Post Road East.

And it’s certainly not the year it was built. Despite circling through a number of names (Fleet, anyone?) since its days as Connecticut Bank & Trust — the original tenant, I believe — this is not a 211-year-old property.

If anyone has any idea why this bank bears that number, click “Comments” below.

The first person with the right answer gets a toaster.

The Last Night Shall Be First

Tonight, Westport celebrates the final night of 2016 with a First Night celebration.

The family-oriented event includes a slide at Saugatuck Elementary School …

first-night-2016-slide

… Dennis the Train Man at the Westport Library …

first-night-2016-trains

… and a telescope for stargazing on the banks of the Saugatuck. In the background are launch boats, for the 8 p.m. fireworks.

first-night-2016-telescope

Hundreds of volunteers — including 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Jacqueline Devine — make First Night possible:

first-night-2016-jim-marpe-and-jacqueline-devine

It all takes place in and around downtown. There’s music, magicians and more at Town Hall, Toquet Hall, Jesup Green, the Westport Historical and Christ & Holy Trinity Church, through 10 p.m.

first-night-2016-light

Friday Flashback #21

Tomorrow afternoon and evening, hundreds of families will flock downtown for First Night.

The scene — in the Taylor parking lot and along the Riverwalk, on the banks of the Saugatuck and looking toward National Hall — is a bit different now than in the late 1950s or early ’60s.

That’s when Peter Barlow snapped this photo. He was testing lenses for a local camera shop.

And we think traffic is bad these days!

(Photo/Peter Barlow)

Click on or hover over photo to enlarge. (Photo/Peter Barlow)

Where Westport Meets The (Art) World

“06880” is not in the business of promoting upcoming art exhibits. There are too many worthy ones — how can I single out any?

But rules are made to be broken. Two upcoming events are well worth your time. Both have local roots — and are also of global interest.

“Westport to Cuba: Building Bridges” takes place at the Saugatuck Congregational Church on Friday, January 6 (5 to 8 p.m.). Over 50 large photos will be displayed, from the church’s mission trip last June. This is a great way to see one of the world’s most fascinating and quickly changing countries, through the eyes of 25 Staples High School students and 15 adult chaperones.

A poster for the Saugatuck Church exhibit shows the 1970s-era, Partridge Family-style bus the Westporters used during their trip to Cuba last June.

A poster for the Saugatuck Church exhibit shows the 1970s-era, Partridge Family-style bus the Westporters used during their trip to Cuba last June.

The next day (Saturday, January 7, 12 to 4 p.m.), the Westport Historical Society hosts an “Art to the Max, Now or Never” sale and celebration. It’s the last day of their exhibit about Max’s Art Supplies, the iconic downtown store that drew together Westport’s artists’ community, which in turn influenced American illustration.

Original art — from some of the over 70 famous artists and cartoonists in the show — will be on sale.

(PS: If you haven’t yet seen the exhibit, go! There’s a recreation of owner Shirley Mellor’s classic corner of the store, a replica of the famous clock — and a sampling of the amazing art displayed in Max’s window during the store’s fantastic 4-decade run.)

"Shirley's corner," at the Westport Historical Society. (Photos/Miggs Burroughs)

“Shirley’s corner,” at the Westport Historical Society. (Photos/Miggs Burroughs)

New Downtown Slowly Takes Shape

To some holiday shoppers, the ongoing construction in downtown Westport is a nuisance.

To JP Vellotti, it’s evidence of good times to come.

Yesterday, the alert “06880” reader snapped a few shots on both sides of the Post Road, near Main Street.

He likes the pavers going in at the front terrace of Rothbard Ale + Larder (the former Town Hall):

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Meanwhile, across the street, decorative railings are being installed at Bedford Square. “The original ones in front of the YMCA were smashed during construction,” JP says. “I never thought they’d be replaced!”

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Intrigued, he also took this photo. “The old girl looks spiffy!” he notes.

(Photos/JP Vellotti)

(Photos/JP Vellotti)

Moseying back up the Post Road, JP adds, “It’s nice that Post 154” — the old post office — “is rented again (though not for food). It’s a good time for local landmarks!”

Photo Challenge #104

Maybe last week’s photo challenge was hard.

Maybe everyone was out Christmas shopping. Or enjoying a drink at their favorite restaurant.

Whatever. Only 3 readers — Ken Palumbo, Dan Vener and Andrew Colabella — knew that the gas lantern posted last week sits outside the Pink Sumo restaurant on Church Lane. (Click here for the photo.)

Then again, with the ongoing Bedford Square construction I’m sure no one stands around gazing at the scenery.

Things will be different once that project is completed, a couple of months from now. Until then, it’s a testament to Pink Sumo — and its neighbor, the Spotted Horse — that they still draw diners.

Speaking of diners: If you can tear yourself away from today’s Christmas ham — or Hanukkah sushi, or whatever — here is today’s challenge:

photo-challenge-december-25-2016

If you recognize it, click “Comments” below. Happy holidays!

Gray Skies Are Gonna Clear Up …

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo/Anne Hardy)

Another Main Street Women’s Store Closes

Chico’s is the latest women’s clothing chain store to depart Main Street.

A spokesperson said they’ll leave at the end of January. Their lease is up, and they chose not to renew.

In case you didn’t know, Chico’s offers “one-of-a-kind designs. Conversation starting jewelry. The most amazing service.”

At least, that’s what their website says.

chicos-main-street

Time Runs Out For “Timeless” Sperry Store

Alert “06880” reader/downtown shopper Philip Delgado writes:

Although I don’t own a boat, I have always owned several pairs of timeless and casual Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes.

It’s no problem to shop online for them, but the Main Street store is a favorite destination for many Westport residents. Sometimes it helps to walk into a Sperry store to check out the size and colors of the all-weather favorites.

The recent announcement of the closing next month of the Westport store is just another example of a shift away from storefronts.

In desperation I bought 2 pairs of shoes yesterday — at 50 percent off — to help Santa. The manager helpfully offered to call the New York store for another shoe size availability — and they still honored the discount.

You won’t get that kind of top-notch service on the internet.

The Sperry store on Main Street.

The Sperry store on Main Street.

Photo Challenge #102

Old-timers call it “Needle Park.” Newcomers refer to it as “the place at the corner of the Post Road and Main Street, near the Calypso store.”

Either way, it was the answer to last week’s photo challenge. There’s a large concrete urn (perhaps a planter?) there now, which fits in with the drab, gray surroundings.

Once it was a vibrant park next to what was then the Westport Library. It attracted its share of “hippies” — hence the derogatory “Needle Park” — along with many others.

It was supposed to remain a park in perpetuity. Well, they paved paradise and — you know the rest. (Click here to see last week’s photo; click here for an “06880” story on Needle Park.)

Congratulations to Shirlee Gordon, Joyce Barnhart, Bob Grant, Dan Herman, Anthony Palmer and J. Wagner, all of whom knew where to find the photo — whatever they called it.

As for this week’s photo challenge: No, it didn’t snow here last week. But Lynn U. Miller found this mound anyway. If you know where in Westport she took this shot, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)