Tag Archives: Fine Arts Theater

Friday Flashback #115

At first glance, Fred Cantor’s 1976 photo of downtown Westport seems timeless.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

The facades on Post Road East look very familiar. More than 40 years later, little has changed.

But look closely. So much is different now.

Three spaces — all in a row — tell the story of downtown Westport, then and now.

Fine Arts Theaters I and II (and their companions, III on Jesup Road and IV a short way east) drew scores of people after dark. They came early for dinner. They had drinks afterward. They window-shopped. They made downtown a destination.

Next door, Fine Art Supplies — rechristened a few years later as Max’s — was much more than a place to pick up watercolors, easels and brushes. It was the center of Westport’s bustling, creative, supportive arts community. World-renowned artists shared stories and secrets. Aspiring painters and illustrators met mentors. Window displays proudly showed Westport’s talent to everyone passing by.

And next door to Max’s stood Schaefer’s Sporting Goods. It catered to an entirely different clientele: jocks. But high school students found a home here too. They bought soccer cleats, bats and skis, sure. But they also hung out. Tip and Charlie Schaefer told them stories, offered tips, and gave them their first jobs.

In short, there were reasons to go downtown. There were things to buy, places to feel comfortable in, people to meet.

All day long, and after dark.

If you’ve got memories of the Fine Arts Theater, Max’s, Schaefer’s — or any other place downtown — click “Comments” below.

Friday Flashback #102

Some things never change. The only constant is change.

Those 2 adages — which, like so many, sound completely contradictory — are expressed well in this fascinating photo:

The Post Road looks much as it does today. There’s traffic, stores, even the same trees, buildings and vistas.

But back when this photo was taken, the Post Road was called State Street. The shops and automobiles were different.

Look closely at the biggest building. That’s not even the Fine Arts Theater. In those days, it was called “Fine Arts Photoplay.”

Since 1999, of course, that property has been Restoration Hardware.

That may change too. Word on the street — State, Post Road, US 1, whatever you call it — is that the upscale home furnishings shop is slated to close.

If that rumor is true, I’ve got the perfect tenant. The Westport Cinema Initiative could convert it into — ta da! — a movie theater.