Has Anyone Seen The Danish Pavilion?

It’s an urban suburban myth: The Philippines (or Indonesian) (or Danish) pavilion from the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair ended up as a residence at the end of Compo Cove.

I’ve walked that path — from Old Mill Beach all the way to the edge of Sherwood Island — and I’ve seen that modern-looking, glass-and-wood house. It’s intriguing — but a former World’s Fair pavilion? C’mon!

Yet a recent email from alert “06880” reader/former Westporter/World’s Fair fanatic Doug Davidoff may shed some light on the legend. At the same time, it raises more than a few mysteries itself.

Doug sent along a clipping from the October 16, 1965 Bridgeport Post. It read:

The Denmark Pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. (Photo/BrickFetish.com)

The Denmark Pavilion at the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. (Photo/BrickFetish.com)

“The prize-winning Danish pavilion at the World’s Fair has been purchased by the Laerkesen Furniture company, 1400 East State street [Post Road East], and will be relocated here on a two-acre tract adjacent to the Sherwood Island connector.”

The Bridgeport Post story described the 130-by-80-foot pine-and-plate-glass building as designed to be disassembled, then reconstructed “like a giant erector set.”

A “World’s Fair Community” website story from 2001 provides further details. Citing a New York Times account of November 22, 1964, it said the structure was planned to be called Laerkesen’s Denmark House, and would display the company’s Danish furniture and household equipment. The “Tivoli Playground” and “Little Mermaid” reconstruction were also to be included. The pavilion — built for $1.2 million — had been bought for $40,000, and would cost $465,000 to move and rebuild.

A poster touting the Denmark Pavilion.

A poster touting the Denmark Pavilion.

The story added that Laerkesen’s owner Dominick DeCecco had outgrown his original store at 1460 Post Road East (now the Pier 1 shopping center). The new location would be “on the Boston Post Road at the juncture of Route 18 in Westport.”

Of course, there is no “Route 18.” This must have referred to the Sherwood Island connector, heading to the Connecticut Turnpike (now I-95) Exit 18.

The 2001 website story challenged readers to find “Laerkesen’s Denmark House.” (The name came from DeCecco’s wife, the former Dorthe Laerkesen.)

No one could.

Perhaps the “06880” community can crowd-source this. If you remember Laerkesen’s Denmark House — where it was, what it looked like, or anything else — click “Comments” below.

And if you can provide proof that it’s the same building that now sits as a handsome home at the end of Compo Cove — well, fantastisk.

Worlds Fair postcard




10 responses to “Has Anyone Seen The Danish Pavilion?

  1. Good morning Dan……I used to live at 15 Rayfield Rd. and that house was in the 1939 Worlds Fair as the ” All Gas- Good Housekeeping home ” and it was moved to Westport. I did have some paperwork on it when I rented it 21 years ago. Just thought I would share that !! I Love your blog ,it takes me back home ……..

  2. There’s an article here http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1898&dat=19660816&id=uecgAAAAIBAJ&sjid=sm8FAAAAIBAJ&pg=3703,3363005 in the Norwalk Hour saying that Dominick DeCecco and Francis DiScala sold an acre across the Post Road from the Clam Box. They had purchased the acre in May of 1955 “with the intent of using it for the placement of the Danish Pavilion from the New York World’s Fair.” The Norwalk Hour edition is August 16, 1966.

  3. It was the Phllipines Exhibit from a much earlier World’s Fair. I’ll email you the document.

  4. Sorry, that should read “Philippines Exhibit”….

  5. Dear Dan,
    In the early 1970’s, Laerkensen’s Furniture relocated to the then new building at 1799 Post Road East.

    As for the former Danish Pavillion of the 1964 World’s Fair fame, it was in fact relocated to what is now known as 82 Compo Mill Cove. It was owned by professional NYC fund-raiser Bruce Porter from the late 1970’s until his death in the mid-80’s.

    Porter was famous for hosting epic parties at the Pavillion, often for more than a hundred of his closest friends. I had the privilege of being one of them and attended countless events, through every season of the year.

    Regular performers at Porter’s annual Christmas bash were Yale’s own Baker’s Dozen acapella chorus. I have vivid memories of making the 1,000 foot trek from the Old Mill parking lot to #82 in weather conditions not unlike those we’re experiencing on this January day, in party outfits that always included 3-4 inch heels.

    In those days, the denizens of the stretch of Old Mill Beach served only by footpath were unwaveringly compliant with the “No Motor Vehicles Allowed” rule. So much so that when Bruce threw a party for dancer-choreographer Agnes deMille, who late in life suffered terribly with arthritis, he had to get specific permission from each of his neighbors to employ an electric golf cart to transport her to the Pavillion.

    Ah, the happy ghosts that must haunt that splendid party venue.

  6. Errata: Fred is right. The house was NOT reported to have served as the Danish Pavillion, It was a former World’s Fair Pavillion, and it may have represented the Philipines.

  7. After a bit more research reveals : The Danish Pavilion became part of the new Laerkensen’s store at 1799 Post Road East.

    The Philippine’s Pavilion was moved to 82 Compo Mill Cove.

    Westport has two –count ’em two, former World’s Fair Pavilions to its credit.

  8. Thanks Fred. The Cardinas family lived in the Phillipines house at the end of Compo Cove.

  9. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I remember John DeCecco. We used to swim in the Jenning’s pool behind our house, together with him and a few other friends. He was Dominic’s son. I often wondered what happened to him. The DeCecco family used to live in an ultra modern home on North Maple Avenue right on the north corner of Hunt Club Lane. The home was filled with modern Danish furniture.