From time to time, our Friday Flashback visits Fountain Square. That’s the Post Road/Main Street intersection. Early in the 20th century — dominated by a large fountain (aka horse trough) — it’s where townspeople gathered to conduct business, socialize, and water their horses.
It was also known as “Hotel Square.” Prior to construction of the YMCA in 1923, the Westport Hotel stood on the corner.
Last weekend, Gitta Selva went to a flea market in New Milford. She bought a plate that depicts Hotel Square. The seller found it while cleaning out her mother’s house in Westport.
The inscription says it was reproduced from an original mural by Westport artist Robert Lambdin (1886-1981). It shows a street scene from 1875-1880, including the Westport Hotel.
There was plenty of action: well-dressed people bustling around a horse-drawn trolley, a horse drinking at the trough, others nearby at the hotel.
Lambdin’s mural hung in the Westport Bank & Trust building. Today it’s Patagonia — a few yards away from the scene shown on the plate.
The hotel is at the current site of Anthropologie. The trough is on Main Street. The white house behind it is where Patagonia is now. It looks quite a bit like the house that was converted a few years ago into the Spotted Horse restaurant.
If so, was that house moved later to its present site? Did Lambdin take artistic liberty with what he drew?
Click “Comments” below if you know. And if you are 100 years old and remember “Fountain Square,” we’d love to hear more!
The more traffic clogs downtown, the more important it is to look back at bygone days.
Our “Friday Flashback” feature has focused on “Fountain Square” before. The Post Road (then called State Street)/Main Street intersection was dominated by a fountain. (Actually, a horse trough. “Trough Square” does not have quite the same ring.)
Well after a century later, we’re still finding “new” images of that old scene.
(Postcard courtesy of Seth Schachter)
Seth Schachter sent this along. It’s from well before 1923. The YMCA had not yet been built on the east side of the Main and State (now Anthropologie).
The bones of some of the buildings on the west — still standing today — are recognizable.
As for the trolley, the horse, the women’s fashions, and the fountain/trough: I wonder what the early 20th century version of Westport’s Downtown Association thought.
As Westport’s downtown renaissance continues, Seth Schachter sends some fascinating postcards from a far different era.
All 3 show “Fountain Square.” The Post Road (then called State Street)/Main Street intersection was as heavily trafficked — for its time — as it is today.
One of the main attractions was a fountain — actually, a horse trough. (“Trough Square” does not have quite the same ring.)
This 1906 view shows the view looking north on Main Street. The first few buildings on the left look similar to today. The Westporter Hotel (right) was replaced in 1923 by the YMCA.
The view below — also from 1906 — looks west on State Street, toward the Saugatuck River and Norwalk. The building in the center of the photo would soon be demolished for — as the postcard says — “the new Jesup Library.” It would be expanded in the 1950s toward the west.
In 1986 the Westport Public Library moved to its present site near Jesup Green; it was replaced by, among other tenants, Starbucks, Freshii and the recently closed Pop’TArt gallery.
In the scene below, similar to the first photo above — probably from the 1920s — the YMCA had already been built (right). A small park outside the library can be seen at the left. The Main Street streetscape is very recognizable.
A horse drinks contentedly from the trough.
And the street is just as rutted as it is now, a century later.