Two buildings caught my attention recently. They are only about a block and a half apart, but they seem destined to quite different futures. One may be a treasure, the other maybe not so much.
In the first case, it has been reported elsewhere that Randy and Jenny Boyd, who own Boyd’s Jig and Reel and who recently acquired Patrick Sullivan’s have requested (and I think granted) a permit for the demolition of a small stucco and cement block appendage attached, not to Patrick Sullivan’s proper, but to the building beside it. Only the stucco/cement block portion will be destroyed. It is to be replaced by an extension which will include a kitchen, as I understand it.
This portion of the building most recently housed Back Room BBQ. I never made it there. Prior to that incarnation, it was a portion of Lucille’s. I do have a memory of enjoying late-night jazz with a jet-lagged friend from Japan in the courtyard, during this phase. Prior to that it was the legendary Annie’s, owned by Cormac McCarthy’s ex-wife Annie DeLisle and stories of celebrity sightings and other fun goings on originate in this era. It was the first active restaurant and club in the Old City in a long time.
Apparently, no one is raising a fuss over this building. It wasn’t the best construction in the first place, has been bastardized in every direction in the years since and is literally crumbling. Even the cement floor is cracked. It’s hard to make an argument in its favor.
Just down the street is a very cool story of a building resurrected. The White Lily Building is be re-made from a factory to industrial-style apartments, much in the same manner as the Armature Building a few blocks away. When I first wrote about the Armature Building (with a look around the inside), little notice was made of the sheet-metal building attached to one end at the corner of Central and Depot. It looked like a fairly recent, irrelevant appendage.
Then a photograph circulated indicating a pretty cool building used to occupy that spot and it was suspiciously shaped just like that sheet metal building. It appeared a distinct possibility that the sheet metal was simply covering the older building. If so, could the older building emerge and be salvageable?
The answer recently emerged in beautiful fashion: The sheet metal has been stripped and the original building is exposed. To me, it seems larger now that it is uncovered. Maybe it’s just that with a brick exterior it seems more substantial. Just guessing, I would say four condos could go in the second floor and two on the third. Either two smaller store-fronts or one larger one could work on the bottom. With around forty units set to open next year in the White Lily building, this seems like an ideal spot for some sort of food market.
There are a few interesting architectural details, such as the design of the brick around the windows. Plaster, which at least dates to the photograph displayed, is peeling off in spots, but the building seems very well preserved – thanks in large part, I’m guessing, to the ugly sheet metal that covered it.
Oddly, and I’d love to hear some of the architects, preservationists and local historians weigh in on this, the bricks look to me as if they are from two different eras. The close-ups show what looks to be very old brick, filled with the character they obtain with age, while the adjacent brick seems newer, to my eyes. Could one facade have been replaced already? Had it been replaced when the older photograph was taken? Were two different types of brick used in the first place?
The entire area used to be a commercial center, of course. I’m sure that empty space across the street once held a building, for example. It was nearly two years ago I first wrote expressing my opinion that Depot could become a pretty cool corridor given the right amount of love and attention. This building could help.
Of course, this idea received a set-back when a building just west of the intersection of Central and Jackson burned last fall. The initial report after the fire was that the rest of the building would still be viable for re-development. Maybe this little corner building can be the start for Depot Street to return to the vibrancy of its heyday.
So, we may lose one building, while another building has been found. This particular instance seems like a pretty good trade. What do you think?