Tag Archives: Vigilant Firehouse

Pic Of The Day #364

The old Vigilant Firehouse on Wilton Road is the new OKO Restaurant. It opens Thursday (April 19). (Photo/Dan Woog)

Pics Of The Day #352

The ‘Port restaurant, and National Hall

Vigilant Firehouse, soon to be Oko restaurant

West bank of the Saugatuck River (Photos/Dave Dellinger)

Westport’s Neat New Restaurant: OKO

First it was a fire station.

Then it was De Rosa’s Brick Oven Pizza. Eventually the tall, slender building on Wilton Road became Neat: a coffee shop by day, wine bar at night.

Now the former Vigilant Firehouse — tucked between Bartaco and The ‘Port — will become OKO.

Chef Brian Lewis

The Japanese restaurant has great promise. It’s the latest project for chef Brian Lewis, who draws raves for his innovative cuisine at The Cottage in Colonial Green.

Lewis has studied Japanese cooking techniques for many years. He’s layered Japanese influences into his cooking. But when he introduced the Okonomiyaki — a savory Japanese pancake filled with seasonally inspired ingredients — to the Cottage menu, he realized he was on to something special.

Guests loved the dish — “Japanese street food with some rarefied touches,” he calls the immediately popular dish.

But it’s not easy to say “Okonomiyaki” (unless you’re from Japan). So, in a non-tongue-twisting tribute, Lewis is calling his new venture OKO.

Lewis will of course include local ingredients on the OKO menu. An opening date has not yet been announced.

But the sign went up this afternoon.

Historic Fountain Disappears

Monday’s post about Vespa and Neat restaurants included some interesting back stories about their respective locations: National Hall and the Vigilant Firehouse. It included this photo of the intersection of the Post Road and Wilton Road.

National Hall - Riverside - Wilton Rd - early 1900s

Alert “06880” reader Jack Harder wondered: “Whatever happened to the fountain/horse trough in the middle of Wilton Road?”

That got another alert reader — Elaine Marino — thinking. A Google search led her to this photo:

Westport downtown fountain

It was taken on the boardwalk behind — yes — National Hall and the old fire station.

But a caption from October, 2013 on the website she found it on — Panoramio — reads: “This fountain is gone! I am missing this piece and it should be placed back where it was originally!”

That’s right. The fountain has vanished. Which raises 3 questions:

  • Was the fountain on the boardwalk the same trough in the early 1900s photo?
  • When and why was it removed?
  • Where is it now?

Alert readers who know — or who have memories of the fountain — should click “Comments” below.

Where’s The Fire?!

No matter how many references to the past I toss out on “06880,” alert readers always offer more. They dredge up memories buried deeper than the old town dump upon which the Westport Library now sits.

The other day, for example, I mentioned the former Vigilant Firehouse. It’s that slender structure on Wilton Road, in the parking lot behind the Inn at National Hall.

The Vigilant Firehouse, circa 1977. (Photo/Norwalk Hour, Bramac Studios)

The story was about 2 new restaurants moving to the area, but Doug Bond pounced on the building. Though he now lives in San Francisco, the story brought him back to his 1970s childhood on Edge Hill Road.

That’s the street that runs between Wilton Road and North Kings Highway. (It’s a fantastic little shortcut, though folks who live there always fume when I mention it publicly. So I won’t.)

A firehouse siren, Doug reminded me, blared every day at 5 p.m. It also sounded for every big fire, summoning volunteers to help fight the blaze.

How did they know where to go? A series of short and long blasts indicated exactly where in town it was. The number of times the signal was repeated indicated the seriousness of each fire.

The code, Doug says, was also published in the phone book. (I never knew that.) (If you don’t know what a “phone book” is, ask your parents.)

He remembers the terror he felt when 4 consecutive blasts — the signal for his part of town — rang out.

That code was also used by other firehouses in town. One night, home from college, I was awakened by a series of blasts. Things were ominous. I forget how I knew out the code, but I got up and drove a short distance from High Point to the Post Road.

Sure enough, the bowling alley — now Pier 1, near V Restaurant — was ablaze. You haven’t seen a real fire until you’ve seen bowling pins — sparked by the lacquered lanes — fly out through what used to be a roof.

I guess if you grew up in Westport, listening to fire sirens was a ritual we all shared.

Today, Doug notes, we find out where the fire is by checking our tweets.