Tag Archives: Presidents Day

Photo Challenge #268

Last week’s Photo Challenge rang a bell with many readers.

Ed Simek’s image showed the large bell that sits outside the Saugatuck fire station — officially, it’s “Saugatuck Hose Company Engine Company 4” — on Riverside Avenue. (Click here to see.)

The bell is a favorite with kids who wander over from nearby Saugatuck Sweets. They also enjoy the restored 1940s-era fire truck — and the friendly, welcoming vibe from all the firefighters there.

Of course, sometimes they have to leave the station on a call. That’s why — as tempting as it is to inch forward — you should never block the road in front of the bell.

Andrew Colabella, Fred Cantor, Diane Silfen, Matt Murray, Wendy Cusick, Tom Risch, Mary Ann Batsell, Amy Schneider and Rick Benson all knew the answer to this very easy Photo Challenge.

Tomorrow is Presidents Day. (Or Presidents’ Day — the jury is out on that apostrophe.)

In its* honor, we present Anne Bernier’s Photo Challenge. Way back in the day, George Washington** really did sleep here. This plaque commemorates his visit.

(Photo/Anne Bernier)

So today’s Photo Challenge is: Where in Westport would you find Marvin Tavern today?

And if you’d like to get into the weeds, answer this one too: Why doesn’t the plaque call it Marvin’s Tavern?

*Not, for some reason, it’s.

** Whose February 22 birthday has been co-opted as a federal holiday, by all 44 presidents who followed him.

Abraham Lincoln’s Westport Golf Course

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. (Happy 215th, Abe!)

Once upon a time, that was a legit holiday. Now it’s been folded into the generic “Presidents Day,” lowering Lincoln to the likes of John Tyler, Zachary Taylor and Woodrow Wilson’s wife.

But The Great Emancipator deserves an “06880” shout-out. With, of course, a Westport twist.

Abe LincolnLincoln supposedly stayed at Hockanum, Morris Ketchum’s 69 Cross Highway estate near Roseville Road, during his presidency.  (Woody Klein‘s history of Westport says only that Salmon P. Chase — Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury — was a frequent guest.)  Hockanum still stands; there is a “Lincoln bedroom” upstairs, and the deed states that no changes can be made to that room.

Like the great realtor she is, alert “06880” reader Mary Palmieri Gai has unearthed some fascinating new information about Hockanum. It doesn’t involve Lincoln directly, but it does provide a chance for me to use his name and the word “golf” in the same sentence — something that has perhaps never been done before, even though 15,000 books have been written about him. (True fact.)

Mary discovered a May 21, 1900 Norwalk Hour story that says:

Westport golfists are getting ready their clubhouse on the Morris Ketchum estate to repeat the splendid experience there of last summer.

Players from Westport, Saugatuck, the Norwalks, Greens Farms, Southport, Fairfield, Greenfield and even Bridgeport think highly of the quarters like that former old house as a place to see and to wait while others are playing. The club has completed an addition to the building. Play is indulged in every day.

Mary explains that Ketchum’s Hockanum property extended far north, long past where the Merritt Parkway is now — all the way to Lyons Plains Road. (It included homes that still stand, like the 1856 house at 499 Main Street.)

1900s golfRecently, Mary says, the owners of a house that backs up to the Unitarian Church found golf balls on their property. No one could figure out where they came from.

The answer: the Hockanum golf course.

It wasn’t there when President Lincoln (supposedly) visited. It isn’t there now.

But it sure provides a great way to look at Westport’s recreational — and presidential — past.