Monday, September 12, 2011

Stevan Dohanos House Mystery – Solved! Part 1

The mystery of identifying the house that Lorain native Stevan Dohanos used as a subject for a Saturday Evening Post cover painting (shown above) back in 1946 (which I told you about here) is over. And only a few weeks after it started.

But before I reveal my findings (in Part 2), I'm going to drag it out a bit – for suspense!

Trying to find the house was one of the more offbeat things I've ever gotten involved with as a result of this blog. I began with the assumption that the house was still standing in Stevan Dohanos' old neighborhood – which, after a lot of driving around – I determined wasn't the case.

Then I thought that maybe the house belonged to a friend of the family. Or perhaps it was one that he saw while driving around Lorain and and wanted to paint.

Could this be it?
That meant that the house could be anywhere.

Thus, I was always on guard. And it really started to affect my behavior (which wasn't all that normal to begin with).

For example, while on the way home from grocery shopping at Sheffield Center a few Sundays ago, I was suddenly gripped by an irresistible impulse to detour down some random Lorain side street in search of the house. Of course, each time that has happened, I expected the house to magically appear, exactly like it does in the painting.

Here's another good example of nuttiness. While picking up a pizza, clear out of the blue, a voice in my head said "It's on 11th Street." So of course, I drove over there expecting to find it – with no success.

That'll teach me to listen to little voices in my head!

Fellow blogger Lisa tried to help by pointing out to me that there are a limited number of neighborhoods in Lorain where the sidewalk meets the street with no tree lawn, and that they are concentrated in the 6th, 7th and 8th Street areas between Oberlin Avenue and Washington Avenue.

It was a great clue, and it limited the search to a relatively small part of Lorain – which I drove around with no success.

Or maybe this one?
Of course, since the Post said that Stevan Dohanos had sketched this house a few years before he painted it – as opposed to sitting across from it and rendering it – I didn't know for sure if he used a little artistic license in his composition. I reasoned that he may have just used that particular sidewalk and curb combination so that the young ballplayers would have a place to sit, with little visual clutter to distract the reader.

Thus, I continued to think that the house might be in any old neighborhood, no matter what the sidewalk looks like. So I continued my search – driving, looking, scanning, etc.

I had seen a couple of houses where I practically slammed on the brakes and yelled, "THAT'S IT!!!" But after a closer look, there was always some major structural difference that either ruled out a match or made it a dubious proposition.

So I kept on looking.

Next: The mystery is solved!


Lisa said...

Next time PBS is looking for a history detective, you better apply. Can't wait to see where you found the house!

Dan Brady said...

Hi Lisa!

Er, uh... I said I would reveal my findings... so...well, you'll see tomorrow what I mean!

Lisa said...

Well? Well? Well? It's tomorrow! :-)