For the past two weeks, the Coney Island Rumor Mill has been abuzz with the rumor that Thor Equities-owned Grashorn Building, Coney Island’s oldest structure, is set to be demolished. Though you’d never guess to look at it today, the building dates back to the 1880s and predates Coney’s first amusement parks, which were built in the 1890s.
We can’t confirm the rumor, there’s no demolition order for 1104 Surf on the DOB’s website. Thankfully. Not yet. But we’d be remiss not to mention it. In the past, there’s been a lag on updates to the DOB site when for example, Thor’s teardown of the Henderson Music Hall at the end of the 2010 season caught people by surprise as the asbestos abatement that preceded the demo got underway.
The Grashorn rumor started as Gameworld moved out of their Surf Avenue storefront, where the arcade had relocated the year after losing their spot in the then soon-to-be demolished Henderson Building. Known as Faber’s Fascination because of the vintage bare bulb sign from the earlier Fascination parlor, the Henderson arcade was one of the few businesses open year round in Coney Island’s amusement district. Not only are there no year-round arcades in Coney Island today, there are signs on Thor’s new building touting “ARCADE” where there is nothing but retail space for rent.
After auctioning off some of the Gameworld arcade machines, owner Carl Muraca moved the rest to a newly leased space on the Bowery. Owned by Jeff Persily, the location is next-door to the lot where Coney Island Arcade was before it burned down in 2010. Gameworld is expected to reopen next season.
The Jones Walk side of the Grashorn building has been vacant since 2008, as ATZ reported in “The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks.” In the summer of 2010, Save Coney Island published renderings showing the potential of the building if restored, but their plan to create a Coney Island Historic District along Surf Avenue was crushed by Sitt’s demolition of all but one of his historic buildings. Only the Grashorn remains.
Originally Henry Grashorn’s hardware store, the Grashorn building later housed shooting galleries, arcades, and cotton candy and taffy stands. Considered too “altered” to win landmark protection by the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, the vacant, deteriorating building has been a victim of the continuing decimation of the amusement area by Thor CEO Joe Sitt. It may not survive in the New Coney Island. Demolition by neglect?
UPDATE December 9, 2013:
On Saturday, we were alarmed to receive a call about men in hazmat suits starting interior demolition on Thor Equities-owned Grashorn. Asked by a pedestrian if there was danger, a worker replied they were doing demolition. As it turns out, the demo crew was working next door to the Grashorn building where Henry Grashorn’s hardware store was in the 1880s. They are doing interior demo in the neighboring space that was G. Grashorn’s Groceries. The work continued through the weekend. There are no permits posted, nor are there any work permits on the DOB website for the buildings at 1102-1106 Surf Avenue. Anonymous tipsters sent us these photos:
“Thor’s Coney Island: Weekend Work for Hazmat Men,” ATZ, December 8, 2013
Related posts on ATZ…
October 17, 2013: The New Coney Island: Thor Equities Vacant Lots, Dummy Arcades
September 2, 2013: The New Coney Island: A Tale of Two Jones Walks
April 10, 2011: Men in Black 3 Rescues Coney Island’s Oldest Building
September 9, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Faber’s Fascination Goes Dark After 50 Years