Over the years I’ve seen tons of photos of the Riverside Avenue/Wilton Road intersection, looking down and east from the Post Road hill.
But until I spotted this one — courtesy of Kathleen Kiska and Michael Tedesco — I’d never seen a view quite like this.
The wide, sharp shot — from 1914 — seems to capture turn-of-the-last-century Westport. A thriving business district existed right alongside residential neighborhoods. The little kid riding a bicycle looks straight out of Norman Rockwell.
But who was in charge of the roads? They look in even worse shape than they are today.
Readers noted the old Saugatuck River bridge, and wondered if vessels passed beneath it. They talked about the importance of maritime commerce to the growth of downtown, and mentioned the majesty of National Hall.
And they commented on the trolleys that once rolled along the Post Road.
The photo inspired alert “06880” reader Chip Stephens to send along this painting.
For many years, it hung in Dr. Peter Ferrara’s dental office here.
Drawn by Al Willmott — a noted illustrator in the late 20th century — it shows a Westport from decades earlier.
It’s all there: National Hall. The bridge. A merchant ship.
This aerial fascinating photo of downtown Westport in the 1930s was posted to Facebook by Bill Stanton.
The view is toward the east (top).
Among the intriguing sights:
At the bottom is National Hall. Just to its north sits a substantial-looking building that must have been torn down long ago. Today it’s the site of Bartaco.
The bridge across the Saugatuck River is much narrower than the current span. The river itself is wider than at present. Parker Harding Plaza has not yet been built. Water laps up against the back of buildings on the west side of Main Street.
The Westport Public Library (now a pop-up art gallery, at 1 Main Street) is the large building just to the left of the eastern end of the bridge.
Look closely (top center). You can see the gas station that is now Vineyard Vines.
The 3 restaurants — one Japanese-inspired, another featuring tacos, the third specializing in meatballs — could not be more different.
But OKO, Bartaco and The Meatball Shop have already joined forces with valet parking. This Sunday (October 6), they’re collaborating on a family afternoon — for a great cause.
National Hall is the site of the 1st-ever Push Against Cancer Block Party. From 2 to 5 p.m. there’ s appetizers from all 3 spots, drinks courtesy of TUCK Gin, and fun activities like Cornhole and an obstacle course for kids and adults, thanks to Upper Deck Fitness.
National Hall and Upper Deck Fitness: the site of Sunday’s block party.
It all benefits the Hole in the Wall Gang Camps — the wonderful site in Ashford, Connecticut for children with life-threatening illnesses founded by Westport’s own Paul Newman.
OKO chef/owner Brian Lewis participated in this spring’s Push Against Cancer push-up contest at Staples High School — also a Hole in the Wall Gang fundraiser. He was so moved by what he learned that he offered OKO — or his other restaurant, The Cottage — for a future event.
PAC organizers Andy Berman and Sherry Jonas were happy to oblige.
Bartaco, The Meatball Shop, Upper Deck Fitness and National Hall’s landlord were equally eager to join in.
There’s a lot going on in Westport this weekend. But if you can, block out time for this great block party.
And yes, there’s plenty of parking.
(Tickets will he sold at the “door.” The cost is $40 per adult, $10 per child under age 12.)
The location has just been confirmed. They’ll be serving ‘balls in what was, most recently, The ‘Port. The family-style restaurant closed last June.
National Hall, when The ‘Port restaurant was there … (Photo/Dave Dellinger)
National Hall has seen a lot, since it was built in the early 1800s. It’s housed the Westporter Herald newspaper, Horace Staples’ bank (and, very briefly, the first classes of his high school).
It was the site of the town meeting hall, and — for many years — Fairfield Furniture.
In the early 1990s, Arthur Tauck saved the historic building from the wrecking ball. (After decades of pigeon droppings, the roof was ready to cave in.)
… and back in the day. (Photo/Peter Barlow)
He and his family converted National Hall into an inn and restaurant of the same name. Several other restaurants later occupied that prime ground floor space.
Now it’s ready for its next phase.
Arlo Guthrie once sang, “You can get anything you want, at Alice’s Restaurant.”
You can only get meatballs (of many kinds, for sure) at the Meatball Shop.
But — with Arezzo, OKO and Bartaco all just steps away, and David Waldman’s new project at the old Save the Children headquarters moving quickly along — the west bank of the Saugatuck River just got a little spicier.
National Hall: The view from Post Road West, even further back in the day.
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