Join the Westport Historical Society on October 17 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m, for one of its most popular walking tours, a stroll through Old Saugatuck accompanied by guide Bob Mitchell. The tour begins at 3:00 p.m. and ends with a drink on the house at one of Saugatuck’s favorite haunts, the Black Duck.
As you make your way through the neighborhood that sits along the tracks near the Westport train station, Mitchell will discuss Saugatuck’s past as a manufacturing hub and the tight-knit, predominantly Italian community it was to become. Most of what we now know as Westport was once called Saugatuck, after the river. But when the town was incorporated in 1835 from parts of Norwalk and Fairfield, it was given the name Westport. The area to the south of town on the west side of the river continued to be called Saugatuck, however.
The walk will begin at the train station, where rail service was launched in 1848, making Westport more accessible for visitors and, in turn, giving residents better access to New York City. Railroad construction brought an influx of jobs, filled mostly by Irish and Italian laborers, and the young community eventually was called Little Italy. In 1958, a swath of buildings bisecting Saugatuck was demolished to make way for the Connecticut Turnpike.
Here are some bits of Saugatuck lore you’ll learn about: The Saugatuck Grain & Supply Company (1929), Luciano Park, the Westport Bank & Trust branch office, the Hedenbury Tin Shop, the Banyan Coffin Tack Factory, the first Saugatuck firehouse, the mattress factory, the William F. Cribari Bridge (the oldest movable span in Connecticut), and the Saugatuck Manufacturing Company, which made buttons from Brazilian ivory nuts. In addition, you’ll hear wonderful stories from people who grew up in Saugatuck when life was simple and family ties strong.
The tour was created to give participants insights into Westport’s history and show how resilient Westporters have been in retaining the character of our town, even as the landscape changes and Saugatuck undergoes an impressive renaissance.
There is a $10 donation, and $8 for members. Ages 12 and under are $5. Reservations are recommended: (203) 222-1424. Meet at the New York Bound Side.