On the west bank of the Saugatuck River in Westport, at 2 Post Road West, is the National Hall Building. It was built in 1873 to house the First National Bank of Westport, two stores and a meeting hall called National Hall. The building was constructed at a time when the west bank of the river was Westport’s commercial and social hub and it represents the town’s growing prosperity after the Civil War. Horace Staples, a prominent Westport businessman and president of the bank was the driving force behind its construction. Various businesses have used the building over the years, including the Fairfield Furniture store and a luxury hotel, the recently closed Inn at National Hall, where President Bill Clinton once stayed. Today it is home to Vespa Italian Restaurant.
The Town Hall of Westport, 110 Myrtle Avenue, was originally built in 1923 as the Bedford Public School. In 1978 the school closed and the building was converted to become the Town Hall, opening in 1983. The Town Hall had previously been in a building at 90 Post Road East, built in 1908.
The Westport Reading Room and Library Association was founded in 1886 and was initially located on the second floor of the Hurlbutt Block. In 1896 Ambrose S. Hurlbutt generously reduced the lease and the Library moved to the first floor. It also started a building fund to construct its own home across the street. Morris Ketchum Jesup, a New York City banker and philanthropist, who was born in Westport in 1830, donated land and funding for the new building, which was dedicated on April 8, 1908. The building fund was then redirected to the endowment and acquisition of new books. The library grew and a new wing facing the Saugatuck River was added in 1956. Eventually a new Westport Public Library building was opened adjacent to Jesup Green on the Saugatuck River in 1986. In 2013 the Westport Library dropped the word “Public” from its name. The former library building on Post Road East is now used as retail and office space.
The house at 60 Church Lane in Westport was built c. 1889-1890. It was the home of William Sturges and in 1917 was listed as the home of Frank Sturges, a mill employee. It was later home to the Fable family until it was sold to the Westport Chamber of Commerce in 1999. The building was restored and won a Preservation Award in 2004 from the Westport Historical Society.
Published in 1881, the History of Fairfield County, Connecticut, compiled by D. Hamilton Hurd, describes the early history of the Westport Methodist Episcopal Church:
The construction of the present church was commenced in the year 1851. Rev. Z. Davenport, now living at Saugatuck, Conn., was at that time the preacher in charge. Services were held in the old Universalist church for about two years, and until the Methodist Episcopal Church was completed.
[. . .] The original members were mostly persons who had in former years belonged to the same denomination and had worshiped at a church about two miles north of Westport village, at Poplar Plains.
The first Methodist sermon preached within the limits of this town was at Poplar Plain, in 1790, by Jesse Lee, in a house standing a few rods west of the now old church. Some few years after this regular preaching services were held in a ballroom of a tavern near by, and until the meeting house was built, about the year 1817, slabs upon legs being used for about forty years before the room was regularly seated. The old church is still standing, and is occasionally used upon some funeral occasion, the members having mostly died, the others having joined with some other Methoilist society.
Construction of a new church, located at 45 Church Lane, was begun in 1907. The church was known by the 1950s as the Community Methodist Church. In 1966 the church was sold to the neighboring Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, which uses it as the Christ & Holy Trinity Church Seabury Center and Preschool.
On the northwest corner of the Bradley-Wheeler House property in Westport is a heptagonal (seven-sided) cobblestone barn with an octagonal roof. It is thought to have been built circa 1847 by Farmin Patchin, a mason and blacksmith who owned the house at the time. The original uses of the barn are unknown, but it was possibly a smithy. The northwest corner of the building was originally attached to a wood frame barn that is no longer standing. Renovated in late 1980s/early 1990s, the barn is now home to the Museum of Westport History run by the Westport Historical Society.
At 87 Post Road East (at the intersection of Church Lane) in Westport is a flatiron-type building built in 1924 to house the Westport Bank and Trust Company. The bank was founded in 1852 by Horace Staples (1801-1897) as the Saugatuck Bank. Soon renamed the First National Bank of Westport, it long occupied offices in National Hall in Westport, which it shared with the Westport Savings Bank, founded by Staples in 1863. The two banks merged in 1913 and eleven years later moved into the new building, designed by Charles E. Cutler (1881-1962), in the developing downtown east of the Saugatuck River. The building, later home to Hudson United Bank, has two large (10’x12′) murals that are reminiscent of works of the WPA-era. The murals were painted in 1965 by Robert L. Lambdin (1886-1981), a local artist, and depict scenes from Westport’s history. They are entitled Shipping on the Saugatuck and Hotel Square. In 2005 the building was restored as mixed-use retail space by David Adam Realty, which saved and refurbished the original exterior, terrazzo flooring, murals and four of the five bank vaults.