Tag Archives: Playhouse Square

Friday Flashback #330

Before there were drones, there were helicopters.

One autumn day in the 1980s, Staples High School graduate Steve Turner took a flight over Westport.

The photographer snapped this dramatic shot:

(Photo/Steve Turner)

The foreground shows Winslow Park. Turner took his photo within a year or two of the July 1987 Representative Town Meeting resolution to condemn the 32-acre property owned by Baron Walter Langer von Langendorff, and a townwide referendum 5 months later affirming that decision.

The town ultimately acquired the land — under eminent domain — for $9.42 million.

Six years later, the Westport News ran a contest to name the property. The overwhelming choice: Winslow Park, in honor of the family that owned it in the mid-1800s. (The Winslows built a large estate there, which later became a sanitarium.)

Take a close look at Turner’s shot. Has Westport changed much in the nearly 40 years since it was taken? (The Playhouse Square condominiums — just to the north of the shopping center and Westport Country Playhouse — were built in 1983; they’re shown here.)

What do you see that’s the same, or different? Click “Comments” below.

(“Friday Flashback” is one of “06880”‘s many weekly features. Please click here to support them all. Thank you!)

Friday Flashback #226

This could be one of my favorite “old Westport” photos ever. And not just because it shows the spot where I live today.

Westport Country Playhouse public relations manager Pat Blaufuss found it in the archives. There is no photographer’s credit, but it’s dated 1969.

There’s the Playhouse, midway up the right side of the photo. (Click on or hover over to enlarge). It’s been modernized, but looks pretty much the same.

Saugatuck Congregational Church on the left has not changed much. Neither have the gas stations: the one that is now Quality just east of the church, and the (now) Mobil across the Post Road. The buildings with (among others) Winslow Park Animal Hospital were there then too (lower right).

But the rest of the area is unrecognizable.

The big Victorian at the top was the Pine Knoll Inn. It was demolished in the early 1980s, making way for Playhouse Square and the Playhouse Condominiums behind it.

The long rectangular building with a white facade directly opposite the gas pumps was a car wash. I’m not sure what the white building set back from the Post Road in the entrance to Pine Knoll was, though I dimly recall the original Viva Zapata’s restaurant being somewhere around there.

And the smaller white structure to the immediate right of the Quality (then Tydol, later Getty) gas station, on the Post Road?

Originally a Dairy Queen, in the 1960’s it became the Crest Drive-In. It was a classic hangout for Staples students, a place for guys to show off their cars and girls to get guys to pay for their burgers.

Eventually the Crest gave way to Sam Goody, Alphagraphics and Qdoba. Today it sits as empty as the lot behind it was, that day in 1969 when an unknown photographer took this time capsule shot.

Pics Of The Day #1103

On a normal Friday morning, Westport’s business district would have been bustling.

Today was not a normal Friday morning. Neither was any day this week, or last. And it won’t be normal next week either.

Alert — and saddened — Molly Alger took a lonely tour through town this morning. Here’s what she saw.

Post Road East, looking west

Compo Shopping Center

Playhouse Square

Another view of Post Road East

Church Lane

Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge

Taylor parking lot

Main Street

Main Street, further north

Brooks Corner

Baldwin parking lot

190 Main Street

North Main Street (Photos/Molly Alger)

But then — a few hours later — skies cleared. The sun came out. And all over town, people smiled.

Saugatuck River (Photo by Chris Tait; hat tip Stephen Kempson)

Kowalsky Farm and Frost Point, Greens Farms (Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

Sherwood Mill Pond (Photo/William Ritter)

Photo Challenge #213

Maybe the lousy weather meant everyone was binge-watching Netflix or making fires. Maybe everyone was away for Martin Luther King Day weekend. Or maybe everyone who leaves Granola Bar is so excited about their granola bars that they don’t look around.

Those are some reasons I came up with to explain the dearth of responses — and, after more than 24 hours, only one correct one — to last week’s Photo Challenge. (Congrats, Jay Dirnberger!)

Elaine Marino’s image showed a mysterious crop circle-like scene, all green and gray. It sure looked like an aerial shot.

It wasn’t. It was the design in the median strip at Playhouse Square — you know, the one right outside Granola Bar.

Click here to see Elaine’s photo. Then get ready to click “Comments” to answer this week’s Challenge.

It should be easier than last week’s. At least, you have to look up instead of down.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

Who Says You Can’t Have Fun In Westport?

Look what’s coming to Playhouse Square!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

Be Careful Out There!

“06880” has addressed this topic before. But with the holiday season here — and traffic increasing dramatically* — it’s worth mentioning again. A reader writes:

On Saturday afternoon, I thought I made the right call walking to and from Playhouse Square. It’s 10 minutes in nice weather — what could happen?

Unfortunately, the lady in the Mercedes SUV who drove right into me ruined that idea. I had the right of way. She just yelled “I couldn’t see you!” and sped off.

pedestrian-and-car-accidentThankfully I just have a minor scrape. Somehow I wasn’t injured, despite getting intimate with the grill of her car. Not that she stopped to see how I was doing or anything…

I didn’t get her license plate. It all happened in 4 seconds. A friend thinks I should make a statement to the police in case there was a traffic cam (I doubt it).

I strongly feel Westport should take notice of the insane effect of so many tiny parking lots, and people going 75 mph on the Post Road. It’s gotten so bad! I used to feel safe walking this town (or driving). Not anymore.

*Hard to believe, but true.

Friday Flashback: The Follow-Up

Friday’s 1st-ever “Flashback” photo caused quite a bit of commotion, among a subset of “06880” readers.

The image — of the Pine Knoll Inn — led to back-and-forth comments, about whether the once grand home-turned-boardinghouse had ever been moved, from its spot on the Post Road behind the Crest Drive-In to a place further back at what is now Playhouse Square.

Jill Turner Odice just sent this photo, from 1950:

Saugatuck Church moving 1950

It shows the Saugatuck Congregational Church being moved — on logs — down and across the Post Road, from its original site near the current Sunoco gas station, to its present location. (Life Magazine featured the event, in a photo spread.)

You can see the Tydol gas station (more recently Getty, now Quality Service and Towing.) Next to it is Dairy Queen — the forerunner of the Crest.

And there, directly behind the gas station on the far left, you can see a little bit of the Pine Knoll Inn.

Meanwhile, Neil Brickley emailed aerial photos. They don’t reproduce well here, but they do show that between 1934 and 1965, the Pine Knoll definitely moved further back.

The year was probably 1957. Wendy Crowther noted this:

In April of 1957 there was a law suit filed by contractors who were hired to remove topsoil from the Pine Hill Estates property “in the rear of the Dairy Queen stand” during the “relocation of the Pine Knoll Inn, which is owned by Pine Hill Estates.”

The Pine Knoll Inn met its end in the early 1980s. It was torn down to make way for the Playhouse Condominium complex, behind what had already become Playhouse Square.

Friday Flashback #1

If you’ve lived in Westport for more than a day, you know what a visually intriguing place our town is.

If you’ve lived here for a while — or lived here once, before moving away — you know it’s always looked intriguing. And a lot different yesterday than today.

“06880” is excited to announce a new feature: “Friday Flashback.”

Each week, we’ll post a new photo of a place that no longer exists. Some will be old. Others will be very old. A few will be real old.

For a while, folks have been sending me great shots. There are many more floating around on the internet, including some great Facebook pages. (Thanks, Paul Ehrisman!) It’s time to share them with the wide “06880” community.

This week’s Friday Flashback shows the Pine Knoll Inn.

Pine Knoll - now Playhouse condos

For many years a boarding house — and before that, a home owned by the Kemper family (whose tannery and orchard are now the Westport Country Playhouse) — the Pine Knoll was torn down in the early 1980s.

Today it’s the Playhouse Square condos, behind the post office.

“Friday Flashback” needs your help. Please email any great photos — showing any Westport places, buildings, stores, etc. — to dwoog@optonline.net. Thanks!

Click here for “06880+”: The easy way to publicize upcoming events, sell items, find or advertise your service, ask questions, etc. It’s the “06880” community bulletin board!



Aaaaargh!!! It’s Here!!!

Heard a moment ago at Playhouse Square:

Please, just kill me now.

Stupid Party Tricks From DOT

Last month, “06880” reported on a traffic light at the foot of Kings Highway North. The green arrow suddenly — and erroneously — pointed left instead of right, leading drivers directly into ongoing Post Road West traffic.

Today, the light exiting from Playhouse Square shows red and green simultaneously, instead of green only.

Traffic light

The result, of course, is an even longer backup of traffic in Playhouse Square, as drivers try to figure out what the hell is going on.

We’re on Candid Camera, right?