West Hartford’s ‘Thursday Throwback’

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Test your knowledge of West Hartford history with this ‘Thursday Throwback,’ courtesy of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society.

By Ronni Newton

It’s time to take a look back into West Hartford’s past to either stir up some memories, reflect on how much things have changed, or both. And if you have no idea, we love the photo captions, too!

My apologies for the recent hiatus of the Monday Memory/Thursday Throwback column. I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks!

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

The most recent image, an Aug. 7 “Monday Memory” (at right and in larger size below), was a location, and a scene that many recalled firsthand.

“I can remember seeing that Touraine Paints sign all the time as a child. Could it be the corner of Park Rd. and Whiting Lane? (I think that I can see the Whiting Lane barber shop as well),” commented Lucien Grillo.

“I lived in that apartment in ’71-2 after it was renovated after the fire!” Judith Carrier Case commented.

Arny Schorr added some very specific details: “Northwest corner of Park Rd. and Whiting Lane, mid 60’s. Bill Lehman owned the paint store and I believe he had one other location. His son, Bill Jr. also worked there at times, and he had 2 employees, one of whom was named Tony (lived on Raymond Rd.), cannot remember the other man’s name. I used to drive their delivery truck (an underpowered Corvair van), load and unload paints (they had storage in a garage in back and downstairs from the store). It was a mess cleaning up smoke and water damage.”

Giovanni Seccareccia guessed about the year, and had some very specific details about the location: “This was around 1969 or 1970 on the corner of Park Road and Whiting Lane. To the bottom left of the building is where Pho 206 is today. The apartment that was on fire actually belonged to my friend, Ed Tagle’s family. I remember he and I were in class at Plant Jr. High School when he got the news and ran out of class and down the street. Thankfully no one was hurt.”

Liz Gillette added, “Corner of Park and Whiting -agreed. Lehmann’s became Sayadoff Paint. The other Lehmann location was on the corner of LaSalle and Farmington, where Arts and Music is now, Park Rd was the ‘mother ship’. The Oriental Grocery next door was a place of fascination for me. Mrs. Chen ran it and I think she even gave classes in Chinese cooking. This was at a time (60s-70s) when we provincial West Hartfordites were just beginning to realize that there was more to Chinese food than egg foo young and chop suey. Of course I had been dazzled by the South Seas, but Mrs Chen had ingredients that weren’t at the tiki bar! I remember her setting up a mini tasting of different soy sauces for me one time that absolutely blew my mind! What a lovely, generous woman! Lehmann’s would give you old wallpaper books that were just a crafting treasure for a little girl with a big old doll house!”

“Gordon” also had some firsthand memories: “I remember this. I was at Plant jr high and remember the other kids going out front to look down the street at the smoke. One of my sister’s friends, Cathy Tagel lived in one of the apartments that burned. I think the year would have been 1971.”

There were quite a few comments on Facebook as well, including from many Plant Junior High alumni like Dennis Maloney who recalled learning of the fire while at school and leaving to watch. He recalled the names of the families – the Tagle and DuBois families – who lost everything in the fire. There were no injuries to any people as a result, but sadly the DuBois’ dog was killed according to posts on Facebook.

“210 Park Road! My dad worked at the paint store starting in 75 and he said it was a few years before then. I grew up on the third floor (1990-2006) where that ladder is going in in this picture was my parents bedroom. He always told me stories about this fire,” commented Erika Alexandra Tapper.

Brad Busque, a cousin of the DuBoises, recalled that his family stored what the family could salvage in their basement.

And as sometimes happens when these types of posts turn into reunions of sorts, Cathy Tagle was brought into the conversation, and certainly knew exactly when and where this fire took place: “My home.. 210 Park Road..devastating time of our life. Lived on 3rd floor..we lost everything. The shinning light in this dreary day, classmates at Plant took up collection to help us and our neighbors. February 1972..a day we’ll never forget!” she commented. “It was an electrical fire that started in the basement of the paint store and travelled in between the walls until it reached the roof and the started burning 3rd floor apartment on both sides. Our good friends and neighbors’ place was devastated as well,” she added.

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

This week’s photo (at right and in larger size below as well as at the top of this column) may be harder for many of our readers to recall.

Who knows where this photo was taken?

When was this photo taken?

What is now in this location?

Please share your memories below.

Thank you to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society for providing us with the images. The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is always looking for new images to add to the collection. Visit their website at www.noahwebsterhouse.org for more information about membership and programs.

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Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

210 Park Rd. Feb. 1972. Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

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  • The building pictured in Friday’s We Ha had me stymied. I know I’ve seen and what threw me off course were the houses to the right and the old cars. When I was a youngster in the 50’s I would pass it walking to the center and when in high school I’d pass it walking to Hall. The cars are from the 30’s or 40’s and the houses to the right weren’t there. The building that Sally and Bob’s and Woodford Insurance are in is there now. My best guess is it was originally the Center School, then some businesses and I think it was demolished in the 60’s some time. It’s almost on the corner of Loomis Drive and I think there was a house to the left of it that was demolished to make way for an office building. If it indeed is the Center School it was probably built in the !800’s’s.

  • I wish to clarify: the houses to the right are where the office building is and what I think was the old Center School is probably a driveway.

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