Tri, Tri Again

Tri, Tri Again


Coogan Pavilion, New Haven, CT. Photographed by Dan Mims. Signed by the artist.

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Coogan Pavilion hasn’t always looked so sharp, though it’s always had sharp features. 

Erected in 1961, the tall triangular building named for James E. Coogan, the longtime director of the city’s parks and recreation department, was purportedly modeled after Swiss chalets then-mayor Richard Lee had witnessed on vacation. Until it closed in 1989, the pavilion was the place to lace up before hitting an adjacent open-air ice skating rink. It was also the place to warm up, and maybe grab a concession, after a session on the ice.

Like many beloved public assets have done, the rink slowly melted away. Old reports in the New Haven Register note the beginning of its decline in 1986, its final closure in 1989 and its replacement by a paved skate park in 1999. Riding the rollerblade trend whose heyday was probably already over, the 1999 unveiling billed it as an “inline skate park.” In 2016, at least, it sees more boards and bikes than blades.

Through it all, the neighboring pavilion held on, hosting wintertime chili cookoffs, summertime children’s camps, Halloween-time haunted houses and anytime candle-making workshops. Then, in 2012, its dated wood, brick and shingle structure went up in flames.

Rebuilt as of 2015, the most striking difference is seen in the faces of Coogan’s tall triangular ends. What were once solid are now crystal clear, letting in both light and curiosity.