“No comments from the peanut gallery,” is an expression beloved by dads and high school teachers alike, often directed in response to smart aleck kids. The phrase dates back to the days of vaudeville theatre, when patrons sitting or standing in the least expensive section of the theater were known to heckle performers and hurl peanuts at the stage. The term was later adopted by the Howdy Doody show, to describe the kids in the studio audience. Many decades later, an artist named Robert Woodward named his studio at 1801 Fairmount Ave. the Peanut Gallery, an extension of his nickname, Peanut Butter.
We always had an appreciation for this building, due to its unique curved corner and the retro looking metal cornice. We figured the building was once a diner or a pharmacy, but Mr. Woodward explained that it was used as a day care prior to 2001 and historically, it was home to an automobile engine repair company called Newman’s Automotive. Looking at historic zoning records, we see that the corner building was originally a three story structure, but the upper floors were removed at some point, likely in the 1940s.
About a year and a half ago, we told you that the building was being sold to developers, and there was a plan to build an addition onto the existing building and convert it into a 10-unit apartment building with a restaurant on the first floor. The photos above are from earlier this week, so you can see the project hasn’t moved forward since then. And also, there’s a demolition notice posted to the building- does this mean that plans for an addition have fallen through and this charming building is going to meet the wrecking ball?
Upon further consideration, we think not. We believe the demolition notice is actually a sign that the project we anticipated all those months ago is actually moving forward at last, and that it will follow the original plan. Demolition notices are needed whether a developer is planning a total or a partial demolition, and in this case there’s going to be a partial demolition of the building at the corner, to provide access to some interior parking spaces. So that’s our suspicion- that this is just a partial demolition and an indication that things should start happening soon at this address. Assuming this is indeed the case, we’ll be interested to see how the existing building connects to the addition, and we’ll be just as interested to learn what restaurant will be taking over the first floor. We think the neighbors would agree that Fairmount Avenue would only benefit from adding more dining options.