Exploring Newtown’s Historical Places: The Old Dodgingtown Firehouse
Discover the past and present of some of Newtown’s lesser-known historical sites in The Newtown Bee’s new series dedicated to retracing the role these places once played in town and what they stand as today.
Formerly: The Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company’s Firehouse
Currently: A Housatonic Valley Waldorf School classroom
Location: 40 Dodgingtown Road
When was it built or established? The fire company was incorporated in 1911, and the building was constructed shortly thereafter in 1912 thanks to Dodgingtown resident Al Bevans (born 1871). He had owned the land before donating it to the fire company.
What is its historical significance? Mr Bevans and his father, Eleazer C. Bevans, were very active in the Dodgingtown community. They played key roles in creating the Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company, which was the second fire department to be established in Newtown.
In A Mosaic of Newtown History by Town Historian Daniel Cruson, it details that the former building, “consisted of a large main room with an immense garage door in the end facing Route 302, through which the fire engine exited the building. It also allowed the engine to be parked out on the road when dances or other neighborhood social occasions demanded.”
Mr Bevans served as the first chief of the fire company and was quite the “mover and shaker,” according to Mr Cruson.
Not only was Mr Bevans a fireman, but he was also a restaurateur, farmer, hat manufacturer, lightning rod salesman, painter, musician, and all-around entertainer. Mr Bevans frequently played banjo on stage at the firehouse when they would roll the fire truck out of the single-bay door and host dances.
“He had a band that played old time dance music, especially in the 1920s and 1930s,” Mr Cruson explained. “When radio came along, he also was a featured band leader on WICC out of Bridgeport. He was known for that.”
Mr Bevans even incorporated his passion for art at the firehouse by creating a mural.
While there are no photos of the wall art that Mr Cruson is aware of, Mr Bevan’s painting is said to have included somewhat of a self-portrait (his face on a New Year’s cherub’s body), a floral pattern on each side of a proscenium arch, as well as a two-foot-tall mural extending along the top of the walls. It showed a travel log of people in a car where the person admiring the art could trace where the car was going as it visited fictional landmarks.
What occupies it today? In 1953, the Dodgingtown Volunteer Fire Company moved its firehouse down the street to 55 Dodgingtown Road, where it is currently located. In doing so, it was able to expand and house more than one fire truck. The new building later underwent renovations in 2009.
The 40 Dodgingtown Road property is now home to the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School, which purchased it in April 2000 from the Newtown Montessori School.
Shortly after the Housatonic Valley Waldorf School came to town, it bought some surrounding properties, including 51 Dodgingtown Road and 36 Dodgingtown Road.
Enrollment Director Therese Lederer said when the school first acquired the old Dodgingtown Firehouse, the roof was caving in and it was not usable.
In 2009, the building was completely demolished and rebuilt in a similar sized blueprint. In August 2010, renovations were completed, and the building became a classroom.
For a period of time, the school called the building the Early Childhood Cottage, but today it is known as Star Meadow.
Interested in learning more about a specific historical place in Newtown? Send suggestions to features reporter Alissa Silber at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 203-426-3141.