But Fine Arts I and II move theaters, Fine Arts Art Supplies, Westport Smoke Shop, Schaefer’s Sporting Goods, Quick Copy, Village Coiffeurs, Ship’s Lantern bar — even the traffic island and crosswalk — are all gone.
That’s not unusual. A lot happens in 42 years.
So if Marty McFly suddenly traveled from 2019 to 1977 — when Fred Cantor took this photo — would he feel very disoriented? Or quite at home?
At first glance, Fred Cantor’s 1976 photo of downtown Westport seems timeless.
The facades on Post Road East look very familiar. More than 40 years later, little has changed.
But look closely. So much is different now.
Three spaces — all in a row — tell the story of downtown Westport, then and now.
Fine Arts Theaters I and II (and their companions, III on Jesup Road and IV a short way east) drew scores of people after dark. They came early for dinner. They had drinks afterward. They window-shopped. They made downtown a destination.
Next door, Fine Art Supplies — rechristened a few years later as Max’s — was much more than a place to pick up watercolors, easels and brushes. It was the center of Westport’s bustling, creative, supportive arts community. World-renowned artists shared stories and secrets. Aspiring painters and illustrators met mentors. Window displays proudly showed Westport’s talent to everyone passing by.
And next door to Max’s stood Schaefer’s Sporting Goods. It catered to an entirely different clientele: jocks. But high school students found a home here too. They bought soccer cleats, bats and skis, sure. But they also hung out. Tip and Charlie Schaefer told them stories, offered tips, and gave them their first jobs.
In short, there were reasons to go downtown. There were things to buy, places to feel comfortable in, people to meet.
All day long, and after dark.
If you’ve got memories of the Fine Arts Theater, Max’s, Schaefer’s — or any other place downtown — click “Comments” below.
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