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Tag Archives: Westport Post Office
… just check out this mailer:
I have no idea how many Westporters will dash on down to Playhouse Square on those 2 magical Sundays next month.
But I’ll bet you a sackful of Santa’s toys that it won’t come near covering the cost of this glossy, colorful postcard.
Which (I think) was sent to every single mailbox in town this week.
Will 2018 be the year when the next phase of Saugatuck redevelopment moves from consultants’ plans to reality?
But as Westporters continue to debate the future of Railroad Place, here’s a view from back in the day. (Which day exactly, I have no idea.)
The “Wheeler Block” — as this postcard called it — included the original Saugatuck post office. It’s the small building on the far right.
Later — as Saugatuck grew — the post office moved across Riverside Avenue. That building now includes an excellent restaurant, Bistro du Soleil.
For the longest time, residents squawked about the inconvenience of the Saugatuck PO. There was no parking, and the lobby was cramped.
Then it closed. And Westport’s main post office moved from its palatial Post Road digs to a hovel in Playhouse Square.
I wouldn’t mind having the original Saugatuck post office back. It’s a lot nicer than our current one.
For several years, Design Within Reach had a small Westport store.
Tucked away on Elm Street — behind Klein’s and the back entrance to the YMCA — it was not, CEO John Edelman admits, a great location.
Now Design Within Reach — which calls itself “the largest retailer of authentic modern furniture and accessories in the world” — is back in Westport.
This time, they’re doing it right.
The Stamford-based company has taken over both levels of the 1935 post office building on the Post Road, across from Jeera Thai and Finalmente. They’ve completely renovated the 2 floors — which themselves were redesigned by Post 154, a restaurant that could not possibly need all that space — and made good use of the terrace overlooking Bay Street.
It’s one more exciting addition to downtown. With Bedford Square and Jesup Hall restaurant opening nearby, there’s an infusion of energy that hasn’t been felt since the movie theaters’ last picture shows 2 decades ago.
Edelman is excited to return. And he doesn’t just mean relocating the store.
His Westport roots go back to his parents, who got married here 70 years ago. They moved to Ridgefield (more land), but he made regular trips to Gold’s (for Sunday lox and bagels) and Klein’s (for Sally White’s record department).
Eight years ago, when Edelman became CEO, the New York Times did a story. Of all the company’s stores, he chose to be photographed in Westport.
Last week — as guests at an opening party admired the handsome chairs, desks, beds, lighting fixtures, sofas and more — Edelman took time to talk about his sprawling new store.
As a post office, the building was a typical New Deal project: big and heavy. The Post 154 owners modernized it, but when they closed they left lots of “stuff” behind.
The new tenants created a beautiful space. It’s modern, open, alluring and airy.
Designers kept the center staircase, but that’s about all that remains. They “deconstructed” nearly all the rest. Exposed ceilings and HVAC give the store a hip, contemporary feel.
The terrace is a great idea, showcasing relaxed living while drawing customers from the side street.
The store — which really should be called Design Within Reach of Only Certain Zip Codes — does not have many suburban locations. Edelman says. But with 70% of their clientele having graduate degrees, Westport is a perfect spot.
Edelman is back in Westport big time. He and his wife rented a house on the water. He can walk to the train station, and he may buy a boat.
He can’t buy records from Sally White anymore. To mail a letter, he uses the “new” post office.
But he can still get his bagels and lox at Gold’s.
And then, a couple of blocks away, he can watch Design Within Reach help jump-start the renaissance of downtown Westport.
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.
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.
The post offices of our imagination are solid, imposing buildings.
Certainly Westport’s was — at least, from the 1930s till a few years ago. Then the Post Road post office moved to Playhouse Square. Today it’s a cramped, crowded, crummy shell of its former self.
Saugatuck had a fine — if smaller — post office for many years. It’s now an auction house. (There is a mail drop nearby, on the corner of Franklin and Ketchum Streets. That’s a step up from the interim trailer, which squatted off Saugatuck Avenue.)
Saugatuck’s very first post office was located at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Railroad Place. Some Westporters know it as Desi’s Corner. There’s a newspaper stand there now.
Back in the day, it must have been a great post office. And — across from the bustling train station — quite a meeting spot.
Alert “06880” reader and frustrated post office patron JP Vellotti writes:
I was at the post office recently in Playhouse Square, sending wood samples to the US Forestry Service. (Did you know they’ll try to figure out up to 5 pieces a year — for free?)
It was a Saturday, at 8:53. I waited for the 9 a.m. opening. Then I walked in, used one of those semi-free Priority Mail shipping boxes, and sent my parcel.
When the clerk asked if I wanted anything else, I said, “You don’t have any post office boxes available here, do you?” She asked another clerk, who said yes.
I told her I had a box at the old Saugatuck location, then another at the trailer. Maybe I was trying to claim legitimacy.
She asked for 2 forms of ID — one photo, one not.
My insurance card turned out to be expired. The clerk rejected me.
Now I really wanted that new box. I was having business cards printed Monday. They’d look great with my new 06880 PO box — much better than my home address.
On my 4th trip to the desk, I asked which numbers were available. The clerk said a computer picks them.
I told her my Saugatuck box was 2261, and that was pretty cool. She didn’t get the connection.*
I outlasted my welcome. I was passed to another clerk, who offered me a choice between 502 or 815.
I chose the latter. He finalized the form, handed me the keys, and wrote down my new Zip+4 address: 06881-0815.
I live right around the corner! This is downtown Westport — 06880!
This clerk said the boxes in the post office building are 06881. Any mail that says 06880 with a PO box takes an extra 3-4 days to be delivered.
I walked to the door, dejected. Could I get a refund? Why did I even attempt to get a box in the world’s worst parking lot, when I really wanted to be back at the new Saugatuck facility?
Another clerk — selling stamps at a mobile kiosk — asked why I looked so sad.
I went through the whole story.
It was my lucky day. Turns out he’s the one who takes care of all the mail at the Saugatuck branch.
He said 2261 was taken. I told him that a really long time ago — when I was in high school and worked at CamerArts in Sconset Square — I had 2122.
I went back to the desk. It took a while, but the transfer was made.
My new Zip+4 is 06880-2122. It’s music to my ears.
Westport is always #1. But for me, it will never be 0688-1.
*Do you? Think phone numbers.
The brainiacs who moved the post office from downtown to Playhouse Square have finally realized that the present location is just a teeny-tiny bit cramped.
They’ve embarked on an expansion project. That’s the good news.
The bad news is, the scene above is not substantially different from the way it’s looked for the past 4 years.