Join the Westport Historical Society on Saturday October 14, for a walking tour of the town's Business Center District and discover facts about such historic sites as National Hall and the former Westport Bank & Trust Company building. Both are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The one-hour walk kicks off at 3 p.m. at Jesup Green and will be led by Bob Mitchell. "This tour demonstrates how critical the Saugatuck River was to the commercial and economic development of Westport," says Mitchell.
The riverbank area near Jesup Green is where Ebenezer Jesup, one of the town's most successful early businessmen, had his wharf, warehouse and store. In 1807, Jesup donated some of his land to the Connecticut Turnpike Company for the Post Road bridge over the river.
From Jesup Green the history tour will cross the Saugatuck to National Hall, built in 1870 by another prominent Westport entrepreneur, Horace Staples, to house his bank. Over the years this red-brick and cast-iron building has also been home to a newspaper, a furniture company, a plumbing store, and the Inn at National Hall.
The tour will then return to the east side of the river, where Bob will discuss the old Westport Library, the former YMCA, and the wedge-shaped Westport Bank & Trust Company Building. The Y was built by Westport philanthropist Edward T. Bedford in 1923 on the site of the old Westport Hotel. The bank, also constructed in 1923, was purchased by a local developer in 2005 and is now occupied by Patagonia. The tour will go inside to view two murals that Westport artist Robert L. Lambdin painted for the bank in the 1960's.
On the way back to Jesup Green, Mitchell will talk about No. 76 Post Road East, which was formerly the site of Petrie's Ice Cream Parlor and the Fine Arts Theater. The first theater in the area to show foreign films, the Fine Arts was closed in 1999 and its building remodeled and is now Restoration Hardware.
There is a $10 suggested donation. Ages 12 and under are free. Meet at Jesup Green in front of Westport Public Library's lower entrance. Parking is available at the town lot on Jesup Green (Taylor Public Parking Lot). For more information about the tour and to register, call (203) 222-1424. Join us at a local watering hole for a complimentary drink.