Stevan Dohanos’ Firehouse Comes Home

Pat Kery thinks of the Saugatuck firehouse as “her” firehouse.

The art appraiser once had an office at Bridge Square. She still lives nearby.

So when she found a Stevan Dohanos print for sale called “Hose Co. 4” — which looked a lot like the Saugatuck firehouse, Engine Company 4 — she was excited.

The Saugatuck firehouse.

Actually, more than excited. She helped bring it home to Westport.

Kery consults for WestPAC — Westport’s Public Art Collection. She’s also a longtime Dohanos aficionado. Researching her 1982 book, “Great Magazine Covers of the World,” she learned a lot about the local illustrator. He drew 123 covers for the Saturday Evening Post — as well as the incredible mural that has hung since 1953 in the Coleytown Elementary School office.

Dohanos’ 1950 firehouse lithograph shows firemen shooting the breeze with a mailman, as they wait for the next call.

Stevan Dohanos’ “Hose Co. 4.”

“His genius was capturing the ordinary things in life — in particular some of the small details we might miss in our fast-paced lives,” Kery says.

“Hose Co. 4” shows bedposts in the 2nd-floor windows, laundry drying on a clothesline, and an alert Dalmatian for companionship.

“From a stylistic standpoint, the artist brilliantly echoes circles and squares — the firehouse, the trees, the dog — to visually tie in elements in the print,” she explains.

Stevan Dohanos at work.

Recently, Kery learned the print — signed by the artist in the lower right, one of an edition of 250, and in pristine condition — was being sold by a dealer in the Midwest. She called, and learned he’d visited Dohanos in Westport shortly before his death.

The seller offered an excellent price — and framed it. Sam  Gault generously provided funds for its purchase. Now it joins 3 other Dohanos Saturday Evening Post covers, and various illustrations — in the WestPAC collection.

It’s a treasure trove of art, including a Picasso and other world-renowned works.

But the real value of WestPAC is the chance to bring something like Stevan Dohanos’ firehouse “home.”

BONUS STEVAN DOHANOS PHOTO BELOW: 

This circa 1950 print — donated by Kery — is from a photograph at the Norman Rockwell Museum’s Famous Artists School Archives.

It shows Dohanos hanging out with Westport firefighters, in front of the original fire headquarters. It was on Church Lane downtown, next to the YMCA Bedford Building (left).

When fire headquarters moved to the Post Road, where it is today (next to Terrain),  the old firehouse was incorporated into the YMCA. Its 1st floor became the Y’s new fitness center, while the 2nd floor was converted into a weight room and cardio studio.

Today, both the Bedford Building and old firehouse have been refashioned into  Bedford Square.

PS: Check out the dalmatian at Dohanos’ feet!

13 responses to “Stevan Dohanos’ Firehouse Comes Home

  1. So cool!
    Wondering about the two men on the right…..wonder who they are?

    • Kathie Bennewitz

      The town would love to know who the fireman–and dog– are too!

      • Kathie:
        On the left, in uniform, are Capt Charlie Judd and Capt “Nin” Arciola.
        On the right, in civies, firefighter (later Capt.) Edmund Duffy and firefighter Joe Ziobro. Hat tip to Charlie Duffy— Capt. Duffy’s son.
        He couldn’t remember the Dalmatian’s name

  2. Someone put the bell back on top!! You need a “Peter Cadeau cupola .”

  3. always loved his work…great to see my old hometown reclaim some of it’s history…and art!

  4. There is some of Dohanos’ work in the St. Croix Post Office. I lost these images due to a computer failure some years ago.

    Alan Beasley

  5. Good morning Dan, I was interested to read about WestPAC – Westport’s Public Art Collection. Where can one view the collection? Sincerely, Lynn Garelick (former Westport resident (976 to 1992), now located in Greenwich CT)

    • Kathie Bennewitz

      The Westport Public Art Collections (WestPAC) are on view on our public schools and many town buildings. We also have an online portal to the Collections–this work is not yet on yet, but other Dohanos works are. You can learn more about WestPAC and search the collection at: http://www.westportarts.org/

      Thanks for your interest

  6. This is such a great story, Dan. Thank you. And thanks also to Pat Kery who tracked down the Firehouse #4 print, and to Sam Gault who helped purchase it for Westport’s great Public Art Collection. This story, in combination with the story Dan published a few days ago about Westport’s comic strip artists, helps remind many Westporters (and instruct newcomers) about how deep and impressive our town’s art heritage is. It is one we need to continue to recognize and celebrate. I hope that someday I’ll see some of these great works of art hanging within the halls and rooms of Golden Shadows and its guest house at Baron’s South.

    I must admit that I wish we were still a town highly populated by artists and other creative folk. I don’t mean to disparage the fact that we are now a town loaded to the gills with financial experts, but it sure feels a whole lot less interesting.

  7. Very special, Dan ..

  8. I had the pleasure of working at that very station with all the firefighters pictured in front of the old Fire Headquarters. The photo brought back many great memories. Many thanks for posting it.
    Asst/Chief Keene Westport F.D. (ret)

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