Spotted: Demolition at Bridget Foy’s

The restaurant business is incredibly tough and impossibly cruel. If we had a nickel for every restaurant that opened and closed in this town over the last forty years… we’d have a staggering number of nickels. Bridget Foy’s, located at the southwest corner of 2nd & South, was the exception to the rule. South Street has changed in a host of ways since the restaurant opened its doors in 1978, and Bridget Foy’s has been a fixture through it all, pumping out food and drink while providing a unique perch for guests from its extended porch.

In the past

It wasn’t market forces that closed Bridget Foy’s, but a fire last October that severely damaged its building. Over the last several months, the building has looked like this:

A couple weeks ago

A few weeks back, Hidden City ran a story with news that the building would be torn down. This was quite upsetting to preservationists, as the building dates back to the early 1800s and serves as an example of the architecture of the period. As you might imagine, many of the structures built around that time got demolished over the years, making this building something of a rarity. Nevertheless, it wasn’t listed on the local Historic Register, so the owners of the property are free to tear it down if they so desire. We should mention, even if it was listed on the local register, it could still get demolished if it was deemed imminently dangerous by the City.

From our reading of the Hidden City story, which included quotes from property owner John Foy, the building actually could have been saved. Unfortunately, the added expense of renovating the building after the fire would have far exceeded the cost of demolition and new construction, so that’s the direction Mr. Foy is choosing to take things. We can’t say we blame him. In a vacuum, reusing the existing building would be ideal, but we don’t believe it’s reasonable to ask the property owner to spend untold thousands of dollars in pursuit of that ideal. Still, the loss of the building is a small blow in an ongoing series of dings to the historic fabric of the city.

Current view
Incomplete elevations drawing, image from Hidden City

The Hidden City story included an unfinished elevation drawing of the new building, designed by Ambit Architecture. From the looks of the preliminary drawing, it appears the new building will pay tribute to the old building, but nobody will confuse the new for the old. Stay tuned, in the coming weeks, as we expect to receive the completed drawings, at which point we’ll be able to give you a much better idea of what to expect when construction wraps up and Bridget Foy’s opens its doors again.