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History Mystery

Today I'm sharing a bit of a "history mystery" from my corner of the world here in the Catskills. In my local town of Delhi, we have an exceptionally charming village square, complete with a Victorian-era courthouse building and a sweet little gazebo.

Delhi New York courthouse square

(Photo courtesy of dcnyhistory.org)

Now, many have said that our picturesque town square was once bestowed the honor of being painted by the famed artist Norman Rockwell. (So much so that I have, on occasion, heard it referred to as "Norman Rockwell Town Square".)

I presumed this to be true and have often proudly proclaimed our village square's fame to visitors. (I suppose this is precisely how rumors are perpetuated!)

Saturday Evening Post Patriotic Band Concert Stevan Dohanos July 7, 1951 Delhi New York

I had intended to share the story of how Norman Rockwell came to paint our village square, but upon starting my research I came across the original Saturday Evening Post cover, which states that the painting was actually done by Stevan Dohanos, one of Rockwell's contemporaries. Imagine my surprise!

Our sweet village square graced the cover of The Saturday Evening Post on July 7, 1951. Here is an excerpt from the Post:

Stevan Dohanos did over 120 memorable Post covers, and readers loved this one from 1951. There is a lot going on at this Fourth of July concert in Delhi, New York. Grandparents listening, dogs and kids checking things out, sailors chatting, and tiny tots are having meltdowns. The editors noted, “When Dohanos set up his easel opposite Town Hall, passersby gathered to see why, and the first thing they knew, they were on canvas.”

Saturday Evening Post Patriotic Band Concert Stevan Dohanos July 7, 1951 Delhi New York

So while it seems Rockwell did not in fact memorialize the square, it's still quite an honor to see Delhi on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post!

And I feel fortunate to say that the town square has become a part of my own personal history, as well. I've spent countless hours gathered in the square to share Willow & Birch Apothecary with my local friends at farmers markets, summer fairs, and harvest festivals. And the square has long been a favorite meeting spot for catching up with friends over a hot cup of coffee or a yummy ice cream cone.

My husband and I were even married in the gazebo!

Delhi New York Town Square Gazebo

Delhi New York Town Square Gazebo

 

And so the mystery remains...who was the first to tell the story of Norman Rockwell as the artist behind our square's claim to fame? And was it a mistaken oversight, or an intentional elaboration? I may just have to start asking around town and see what I can dig up! ;-)

Do you have a local "claim to fame" in your hometown? Or a local "history mystery"? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear! 

 

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2 comments

  • Thank you so much for sharing, Ray! So the mystery still remains as to when, along the way, the story changed so that some folks have mistakenly claimed it was done by Rockwell. My assumption is that it’s been just a simple misunderstanding over the years (given Rockwell’s prominence in “The Saturday Evening Post”), although I can’t help but wonder if there is more to the story! ;-)

    Anna
  • A photograph of the artist painting this work appeared in the Delaware Republican Express a few months before it appeared, so at the time, people clearly knew who had painted it.

    Ray LaFever

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