Tag Archives: Westport Hotel

Friday Flashback #266

From time to time, our Friday Flashback visits Fountain Square. That’s the Post Road/Main Street intersection. Early in the 20th century — dominated by a large fountain (aka horse trough) — it’s where townspeople gathered to conduct business, socialize, and water their horses.

It was also known as “Hotel Square.” Prior to construction of the YMCA in 1923, the Westport Hotel stood on the corner.

Last weekend, Gitta Selva went to a flea market in New Milford. She bought a plate that depicts Hotel Square. The seller found it while cleaning out her mother’s house in Westport.

The inscription says it was reproduced from an original mural by Westport artist Robert Lambdin (1886-1981). It shows a street scene from 1875-1880, including the Westport Hotel.

There was plenty of action: well-dressed people bustling around a horse-drawn trolley, a horse drinking at the trough, others nearby at the hotel.

Lambdin’s mural hung in the Westport Bank & Trust building. Today it’s Patagonia — a few yards away from the scene shown on the plate.

The hotel is at the current site of Anthropologie. The trough is on Main Street. The white house behind it is where Patagonia is now. It looks quite a bit like the house that was converted a few years ago into the Spotted Horse restaurant.

If so, was that house moved later to its present site? Did Lambdin take artistic liberty with what he drew?

Click “Comments” below if you know. And if you are 100 years old and remember “Fountain Square,” we’d love to hear more!

Friday Flashback #241

As Main Street enjoys a renaissance — gelato shops! Sundance! something to replace Banana Republic and Bobby Q’s! — it’s worth looking back at what our main downtown drag used to look like.

No, not half a century ago, with stores like Selective Eye, the African Room and Mark’s Place. I’m talking the turn of the century. Last century.

This 1901 Sanborn map was posted to social media by William Weiss. It describes what types of stores were where, as the 20th century began.

On the west side of Main Street — where the Saugatuck River lapped up against the backs of shops — there were a couple of laundries, several “meat” places, a paint shop, drug store, bakery, cobbler, flour and feed story, lumber store, and an enormous coal yard.

The east side of Main Street included a barber, tailor, and more butchers and grocery stores.

And that’s just in the block between the Post Road (State Street) and Elm Street. (Just like today though, a few storefronts sat vacant.)

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

The Riverside Inn was aptly named. It sat right on the river, about where Starbucks is now.

Across Main Street was the Westport Hotel (misspelled on the map). Two decades later that became the YMCA; today it’s Anthropologie.

The primary occupant of Church Lane was a horse shed. That later became a fire station. Now it’s Bedford Square.

Anyone predictions of what a Sanborn map of downtown Westport in, say, 2101 would look like?

One Last Look Back

The Kemper-Gunn House has moved. The old YMCA Bedford building begins renovations soon, becoming an anchor of the new Bedford Square.

But Westporters can’t stop looking back.

Alert “06880” reader Jonathan Rohner sent this fascinating postcard showing the Y and the Westport Bank and Trust building (today it’s Patagonia):

YMCA and bank in 1920s or so

I love the cars — all looking the same — parked or driving haphazardly on the trolley-tracked Post Road.

I love the elm trees framing the Bedford building, and how peaceful downtown looked.

Equally alert “06880” reader Scott Smith contributed this photo, from a decade or so later:

YMCA witih old cars

I love the hand-colored blue sky. The bike leaning casually against the tree on the left.

And check out the front-in parking job of those cars in front of the Y. That would never fly today.

I was especially intrigued by another image Scott sent. This one shows the Westport Hotel. The area was called Hotel Square. Westport Bank and Trust had not yet been built:

Westport Hotel - site of old Y

The hotel had a pool room. Youngsters were not permitted inside. Edward T. Bedford vowed to give them a place. In 1923, he built the YMCA.

The rest is history.

And now, a new chapter has begun.