Take That, Grucci!

Spectacularly alert “06880” reader Mark Krosse sent this along:

It’s from CtHistoryOnline, and is a broadside inviting Westporters to an “Exhibition of Fireworks!” — on the “Evening of the 4th of July, 1860.”

The site was “Compo House,” and the “programme” was extensive.

Signal Rockets will be fired from sun-down to 9 o’clock, when a brilliant display will commence with the splendid GREEK BENGOLA LIGHTS, illuming the whole entire area of the Fireworks Ground. This brilliant reflecting light was invented by the celebrated Indian Chieftain, TIPPOO SAIB, and is the most powerful known to the present age, eclipsing the Drummond Light for its brilliancy, &c. After which the following beautiful pieces will be fired in the order of the Programme.

Reading habits 2012-style not being what they were in 1860, I’ll give just a few highlights:

  • Splendid Vertical Wheel
  • Rockets
  • Chaplet of Flora
  • Torbillions
  • Fairies’ Frolic
  • Glories of Mexico

Casting aside the question of why we were celebrating the “Glories of Mexico,” I’ll close with this description of the final Bomb Shells:

Commencing with a splendid wheel of Chinese, Egyptian and radiant fires, forming all the variegated and beautiful mutations of the Kaleidoscope, changing  to the American Coat of Arms, displaying the shield with the Stars and Stripes on each side in the appropriate colors, Red, White and Blue.

A rare old photo of the July 4th, 1860 fireworks. Or not.

On an arc above will appear the motto, UNION.

The whole mutating to a grand Mosaic Battery, composed of Greek and Roman Candles, filling the air for several hundred feet with all the beautiful colors known in Pyrotechny.

Sounds like Fun!

In fact, the descriptions are so vivid I can just imagine the scene. Colors fill the air. The crowd applauds. Finally everyone heads home, creating a massive horse-and-carriage jam on the roads from Compo House.

8 responses to “Take That, Grucci!

  1. Marc Sholes

    Curious as to where compo house was?

    • I don’t know. I wonder if it was what later became the Compo Inn, opposite what is now King’s Highway Elementary School?

  2. Did they “reserve” their spots on picnic tables all afternoon?

  3. You are the best, Dan, enjoy your tid bits of local lore/ history so much!

  4. Ben Wilder

    Like so many other periods of our history, the expressed joys of liberty and the not so old Constitution conceal a shadow of things to come, In this; UNION. A portent of of the coming of one of our worst eras.

  5. Wendy Crowther

    The Compo House was the Winslow Mansion which once stood upon today’s Winslow Park. Between 1855 and 1860, Henry Richard Winslow and his 2nd wife, Mary Fitch Winslow, invited all the townspeople to their extensive and lavish property to enjoy July 4th fireworks. Henry died in Feb of 1861 so the 1860 fireworks extravaganza advertised in the poster referenced above was Winslow’s last. His widow sold the property in 1865.

    A similar Westport couple (Melissa and Doug) is helping to carry on the WInslow tradition this year, although the party is in a much bigger, and community-owned backyard!

    • THANKS, Wendy. I now know that Compo House stood 100 yards or so from where I live!

      It was quite a building — later a sanitarium. That’s why there are all those paths on what is now Winslow Park.

      Happy 4th!

  6. Here is a print of The Compo House, suitable for framing! Appears that large homes in Westport are not a new phenomenon.