Last week’s Friday Flashback showed Ken Montgomery’s Old Mill store — one of several predecessors of the current Old Mill Grocery & Deli.
It had been his mother’s market. He joined her, after his original place — on the corner of Bridge Street and Compo Road South — was demolished, to make way for the new Connecticut Turnpike (now called I-95).
I’d never seen a photo of it. Then, just days after that Friday Flashback, Pamela Docters posted an old Westport Town Crier newspaper clipping on Facebook:
As the caption notes, Ken wanted to move the “retail landmark” to property he owned opposite the old Saugatuck Elementary School (now The Saugatuck co-op housing complex). His request was denied.
The caption also says that he hoped to return with a new store once the highway was finished.
That never happened. But the Old Mill store was good to him.
And Ken was good to his town. When he died, he left a $500,000 gift to the Westport YMCA.
Pamela posted a couple of other fascinating doomed-by-the-thruway photos.
This one, from June 7, 1956, shows houses moved to Dr. Gillette Circle.
Dr. Gillette Circle is off Davenport Avenue, which itself is accessed by Ferry Lane West off Saugatuck Avenue — adjacent to I-95 Exit 17.
Indian Hill Road — also part of the neighborhood — is now sliced in two by the highway. It once connected, all the way north to Treadwell Avenue.
Dr. Gillette Circle is once again buffeted by change. The 157-unit Summit Saugatuck development is a few yards away, on Hiawatha Lane Extension.
As for I-95, recent state Department of Transportation work has radically altered the landscape first created when the turnpike was built. It took 70 years for trees and vegetation to grow. Now it’s all gone.
Of course, as thruway construction took place Saugatuck was not the only neighborhood affected. Another photo posted by Pam shows a Greens Farms home — already 125 years old — being moved 700 feet away from the new route’s right-of-way, to Turkey Hill South.
The Connecticut Turnpike cut a wide swath through Westport. It changed Saugatuck forever, and made an enormous impact everywhere else.
Three-quarters of a century later, most of us cannot imagine life here without it.
But there are still Westporters, and former residents, alive who do.
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