The opening of the transformed Westport Library brought back memories of the original — and reminders, once again, that it was built on what was once the “town dump.”
Alert — and historic minded — “06880” reader Fred Cantor found a fascinating aerial photo, published by the Town Crier in 1965
Back then, the library was located in the building at the lower left of the photo. Today it’s the site of Starbucks, Freshii and other tenants.
Across the Post Road — at the foot of what we now call the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge — is a block of shops and apartments that burned in the late 1960s or early ’70s. Today it’s South Moon Under, and other stores.
But the most fascinating part of the photo is seen beyond Jesup Green and the Taylor Place parking lot. There — in the center of town — sat the Rogers Little League baseball diamond. The dugouts are about where the upper entrance to the library lot is today. (Why is it so bumpy now? Landfill.)
Unfortunately, the photo does not show what lies beyond left and center field. That was the town dump.
It smelled. It attracted seagulls. It was not uncommon for the birds to swoop near unsuspecting outfielders, attempting to catch flies (the baseball variety).
Around that time — perhaps a few years later — Westport artist Arthur Cady drew a series of Westport scenes.
(Illustration by Arthur Cady/courtesy of Jim Ezzes)
This one may have been a bit of artistic license. I don’t think the dump was quite that close to downtown.
But it sure was near to what is now Tiffany, nestling right behind on Taylor Place.
Before South Moon Under. Before Klaff’s. Before Muriel’s Diner, shaped like a trolley car.
Before all that — on the block between what is now Taylor Place and the Taylor parking lot, across the Post Road from what is now Starbucks and what was then the very new Westport Public Library — stood this very handsome row of buildings.
Click on or hover over to enlarge.
According to Seth Schachter — who sent this fascinating 1915 postcard — the area was traditionally called “Hulbert’s Block” (or perhaps “Hurlbutt’s,” for the famed Weston family). This is the first time he’s seen it called “Post Office Block.”
The post office is at the far right (with a bicycle leaning against the pole). A store belonging to Wm. E. Nash is in the center.
As a bonus, here’s the back of the postcard:
The sender — “Leffer” — tells Miss Jeannette Smith (in beautiful penmanship) that’s he (or she) has marked the building in which he (or she) will live with an “X.” You can see it on the far right of the postcard — just above the post office.
Meanwhile — totally coincidentally — just yesterday I received this photo from Lee Saveliff.
It shows the entire block — this time, from the perspective of the corner of the Post Road near Main Street. Taylor Place is on the left. Club Grill later became Muriel’s Diner. Click on or hover over to enlarge.
Lee says that her great-grandparents — Leonard and Julia Gault — owned the Club Grill building. The larger one — closer to the river and bridge, with Pat’s Diner and Achorn’s Pharmacy (!) — was owned by the Klaff family.
This shot looks to be from the 1940s or ’50s. In November of 1974, the block burned
to the ground. Lee saw the flames from her home, on Imperial Avenue.