Tag Archives: 1964-65 World’s Fair

Danish House Follow-Up: No, No, It Really Is The Philippines!

This morning’s “06880” post — about the 1964-65 World’s Fair Danish Pavilion that ended up in Westport — started out:

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.

The piece described how the Danish pavilion actually became a Danish furniture store near the Sherwood Island connector. In the final paragraph, I wondered whether that was the same house everyone speculates is on Compo Cove.

I should have checked with Fred Cantor first.

The very alert “06880” reader/avid historical researcher sent along a document from 1991. The 11-page application to the National Park Service — signed by state historic preservation officer John Shannahan — requests that 22 buildings comprising the “Mill Cove Historic District” be placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Here’s the interesting part: One of the cottages at the south end of the district has “an unusual history. Originally, this building was a bamboo hut built for the Phillipine [sic] Exhibit at the St. Louis Exposition in the late nineteenth century [sic]; it was dismantled and re-erected on this site about 1900.”

(Well, a bit later. The Exposition was held in 1904.)

The houses that came from the Philippine Exhibit are at the far right in this Google Maps photo. Beyond them (to the right) is Sherwood Island State Park. To the left is the path leading to Old Mill Beach.

The houses that came from the Philippine Exposition are at the far right in this Google Maps photo. Beyond them (to the right) is Sherwood Island State Park. To the left is the path leading to Old Mill Beach.

But wait! There’s more! “A smaller cottage to the rear is also a re-built bamboo hut but it has retained its form and some exterior materials.”

UPDATEAlert reader SW Reid posted in a comment (below): “Brooks Jones built the guest house behind the ‘pavilion’ maybe 25 years ago. He wanted the unit to look like the original structure on the water.”

So there you have it. The house is Filipino, not Danish. But how and why it ended up in Westport remains a mystery.

Until, that is, Fred finds out.

BONUS FUN FACTSThe 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair — also called the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition — was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the US from France.

The Philippine Exhibit was the largest (47 acres, 100 buildings), most expensive ($2 million) and most popular at the entire fair.

A bird's-eye view of the mammoth Philippine Exhibit.

A bird’s-eye view of the mammoth Philippine Exhibit.

There were about 1,100 Filipinos at the Philippine Exhibit. They were shown in various stages of cultures, from primitive to highly cultured.

The head-hunting, dog-eating Igorots were the greatest attraction at the Philippine Exhibit, not only because of their novelty, the scanty dressing of the males and their daily dancing to the tom-tom beats, but also because of their appetite for dog meat which is a normal part of their diet.

(Hat tip to Virgilio R. Pilapil — and Google — for the above information. Read much more from him about the Philippine Exhibit by clicking here.)

Philippine Exhibition

 

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