As Bedford Square nears completion — and an Elm Street/Baldwin parking lot land swap is back in the news — it’s a great time for a bird’s-eye view of downtown Westport, 1965-style.
Click on or hover over to enlarge.
It’s tough to see the old Y (new Bedford Square), or any part of Elm Street, thanks to the trees. But this photo — by R.P. Lentini, courtesy of alert “06880” reader Matt Murray — intrigues me for several reasons. Among them:
The old Victorian house still stood on Gorham Island
The Wright Street building was a decade in the future
The building between Christ & Holy Trinity Church, and what is now Seabury Center.
A photo with this morning’s post about the upcoming demolition of 15 Belden Place — the charming red house on the Saugatuck River, in the midst of downtown — did not show that storied property in the best light.
I took it yesterday, from the dirt parking lot leading down from Main Street.
From that vantage point, many Westporters would not recognize the house that for years has been home to artists, teachers and other less-than-McMansion-type tenants.
But anyone who ever stood at the edge of Gorham Island, and gazed at the soothing marshland just a few feet from Parker Harding Plaza, will recognize this view from 2000, by Andrea Fine:
And this one:
(Westport Historic Resources Inventory, courtesy of Wendy Crowther)
Here’s a more distant shot, by Jaime Bairaktaris:
Now you know what the loss of this house will mean to Westport, right?
Some are well-known. Others are obscure. A few are hidden in plain sight.
Among the last group is the Saugatuck River passage at the back of Parker Harding Plaza. It’s on the right (east) side of Gorham Island as you paddle upriver. (It’s not always navigable. Check the tides!)
Richard Stein was the only “06880” reader to nail last week’s photo challenge. He’s good!
Incorrect guesses for Seth Schachter’s image included the nearby Ruth Steinkraus Cohen bridge (where the flags fly); Post Road West to Nash’s Pond; Sherwood Mill Pond to Sherwood Island; Sasco Creek to Southport Beach, and 2 pedestrian tunnels (some readers thought the water came from floods); Main Street to Parker Harding Plaza (transformed last year by Miggs Burroughs’ lenticular photos), and the Saugatuck train station. To see last week’s photo and all the guesses, click here.
It’s on to this week’s challenge. As always, click “Comments” if you think you know where in Westport you’d see this:
Wednesday’s “06880” story on the death of Sidney Kramer included a few lines about his founding of Save Westport Now. The impetus for Westport’s 3rd political party was the construction of a 40,000-square foot glass office building on Gorham Island, diagonally across Parker Harding Plaza from Kramer’s Remarkable Book Shop.
Reader Kathleen Burke was reminded of a beautiful watercolor postcard. Artist Walter Dubois Richards created it, as part of the campaign to save the Victorian house that sat on Gorham Island.
Whether all you know of that spot is the bile-green office — or if you fondly remember the old home there — you’ll appreciate Richards’ painting:
Here’s another view, of unknown origin:
Noted artist Al Willmott painted this view of Gorham Island and downtown:
As did famed “Little Toot” artist Hardie Gramatky:
Here’s the view today:
We can’t get that house back. But it wasn’t because Sidney Kramer didn’t try.
What a view! If you were looking for lodging in Westport, and saw this on a website — as I did — wouldn’t it make you want to book a room at the Inn at National Hall, the handsome building smack in the center of the photo?
Sure. Unfortunately, this shot serves as the centerpiece of the website for the Westport Inn, a decidedly different establishment several miles east. Guests there gaze out upon a pediatrician’s office, gas station and Goodwill.
This elastic view of reality reminds me of an ad a few years ago for space at the Gorham Island office building — located coincidentally just behind where the photographer stood to take the photo above.
The artist got a bit carried away depicting the glories of the Saugatuck River. There, gliding majestically past the suddenly non-intrusive glass building, was a 3-masted schooner.
Must have been real low tide underneath the Post Road bridge that day.
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