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Posts Tagged ‘demolition alert’

Velocity Nightclub in the Henderson Building, 2007. Photo © Charles Denson

Velocity Nightclub in the Henderson Building, 2007. Photo © Charles Denson

This is the seldom-seen interior of the Henderson Building, which Thor Equities has announced plans to demolish and replace with a one-story shopping mall. Is this building “structurally questionable and potentially dangerous” as Thor’s press release claims? We don’t think so, nor does Save Coney Island, which issued their own press release today condemning Thor’s plan to demolish the Henderson, Grashorn and Bank of Coney Island buildings as well as the Shore Hotel.

“Thor’s demolition plan would destroy Coney Island’s history and undermine its unique appeal,” said Save Coney Island spokesman Juan Rivero. “It is a short-sighted squandering of the tremendous potential of these buildings to provide a distinctive Coney Island experience.”

The Velocity Nightclub occupied the second floor on the Bowery side of the former Henderson Music Hall until Thor bought the building and evicted them. “The second floor is completely renovated with original brick and steel exposed. It was the balcony of the theater,” says historian Charles Denson, author of Coney Island Lost & Found.

Vintage Postcard of Henderson's Music Hall Stage in Coney Island. Cezar Del Valle Collection

Vintage Postcard of Henderson's Music Hall Stage in Coney Island. Cezar Del Valle Collection

As we noted in February, the Henderson Music Hall was nominated for landmark designation by Coney Island USA, but has yet to be calendared by the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Its chances are thought to be slim since the building has been altered extensively. It was even cut in half! There’s also the unfortunate fact that the Henderson is owned by real estate speculator Joe Sitt of Thor Equities and occupies a prime site at the corner of Surf and Stillwell that has been rezoned for a high rise hotel. City rezoning documents detail the history of the Henderson Music Hall:

Fred Henderson opened the 3-story brick music hall on Stillwell Avenue at the Bowery around 1900. Henderson’s establishment began as a restaurant at Bowery and Henderson Walk in 1881. When that building burned in 1899, Henderson constructed the new structure to the designs of John B. McElfatrick. The original Italianate southern façade (which fronts on the Bowery) has brick piers, corbelling, stone window lintels, and a bracketed cornice. In 1923, Stillwell Avenue south of Surf Avenue was created by the widening of Stratton’s Walk, and Henderson’s Music Hall was cut in half. At that time, a new brick façade with decorative panels and a stepped parapet was added to the Stillwell Avenue frontage. Additional alterations include modern storefronts and replaced windows. The music hall operated until 1926 and featured such music and vaudeville acts as Al Jolson, the Marx Brothers, and Sophie Tucker. During its run, Henderson’s Music Hall was an important Coney Island entertainment venue. From 1926 to 1984, the building housed the World of Wax Musee. The former Henderson’s Music Hall has been extensively altered. This property was identified in the inventory of potential resources prepared by Coney Island USA.

Henderson Building: Thor Equities banner dwarfs shuttered Shoot out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

Henderson Building: Thor Equities banner dwarfs shuttered Shoot out the Star. Photo © Tricia Vita//me-myself-i via flickr

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Related posts on ATZ…

September 12, 2010: Video: Coney Island’s Faber’s Fascination by Charles Denson

April 21, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Tattered Tents, Deathwatch for Historic Buildings

March 3, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: What Stillwell Looked Like Before Joe Sitt

February 10, 2010: Thor’s Coney Island: Amusement Operators Balk, Money Talks at Stillwell

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Over the weekend ATZ contributing photographer and Coney Island resident Bruce Handy/”Pablo 57″ took some lyrical photos of the Rita Ackermann mural. The artwork is on the west wall of the soon-to-be demolished Feltman’s Building. You can view the complete flickr set as a slideshow here.

Detail of Mural

Freaky Sideshow Girls: Detail of Dreamland Artist Club Mural by Rita Ackermann on the soon-to-be Demolished Feltman’s Kitchen (Home of the Hot Dog), Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr

As ATZ reported last week in “Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition” (January 19, 2010), the last remnant of the hot dog inventor’s empire is set to be demolished to make way for new amusements on the City-owned “Parcel A”—the former Astroland site. The Ackermann mural, which was valued at $250K by Dreamland Artist Club founder Steve Powers, is likely to be demolished along with the building. (“Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg“)

Photographing the mural wasn’t an easy job, but somebody had to do it. ATZ found very few pix of this mural on the web. We’re grateful that Bruce Handy documented details of the Jones Walk artwork before it is gone forever. Bruce used a tripod and held the camera up in the air to take a photo of the complete mural.

“The problem is the mural is in a bad spot for a good photo,” says the photographer. “It’s too high and the angle is bad. To get a good photo you need a zoom lens standing on W 12th, but you also need a straight line of sight. You need to be perpendicular to the wall that’s why you need to be so far away. The ideal photo would be if someone drove a car up there and stood on the roof. That’s how Ansel Adams got all his great photos.”

feltman's

Dreamland Artist Club Mural by Rita Ackermann on the soon-to-be demolished Feltman’s Kitchen (Home of the Hot Dog), Coney Island. Photo © Bruce Handy/Pablo 57 via flickr


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Related posts on ATZ…

January 21, 2010: Demolition Alert: Dreamland Artist Club Mural on Feltman’s Bldg

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

January 8, 2010: By the Numbers: Coney Island New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim 2010

December 20, 2009: Coney Island Photo of the Day: First Snow on the Cyclone

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In our recent post about Coney Island’s soon-to-be-demolished Feltman’s kitchen, one of the photos taken from Jones Walk shows the mural on the west wall of the historic building. Take another look because the Rita Ackermann mural is said to be worth $250,000 and the building is not long for this world. Yesterday the City’s contractors were observed removing the roof of the hot dog inventor’s kitchen.

Mural on west wall of Feltman's Kitchen Seen from Jones Walk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Rita Ackermann Mural on west wall of Feltman's Kitchen Seen from Jones Walk. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Ackermann painted the mural in 2004 for the Dreamland Artist Club says the art project’s founder and lead artist Steve Powers.

“I co-curated the Dreamland Artist Club and have happy memories of working with Rita,” Powers told ATZ. “Although I would estimate the value of the mural at $250,000, it is but a fraction of what Steeplechase Park, Luna Park and a hundred other monuments in Coney Island have been worth. The mural may meet its doom but its memory will remind us how dumb progress can be sometimes.”

It’s ironic that public art which was created in response to real estate development changing the landscape and character of Coney Island is itself endangered by redevelopment. Powers teamed up with Creative Time, the non-profit public art agency, to bring artists to Coney Island to create new signage for the stands along the Walk and the Bowery. The first year’s funding was $80,000. When the murals and signage debuted in June 2004, Powers told the Times: “A large percentage of them will be up forever.” Powers own work, including the Cyclone roller coaster seats and “Bump Your Ass Off” signs for the Eldorado Bumper Cars are thankfully still with us and look like they’ve been here forever.

Detail of Rita Ackermann Mural and Wonder Wheel Signage.. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

Detail of Rita Ackermann Mural and Wonder Wheel Signage.. Photo © Tricia Vita/me-myself-i via flickr

The Brooklyn Rail’s review of the Dreamland Artist Club included this description of Ackermann’s mural: “With an aura of danger and seduction, snake charmers, acrobats, and sword throwers return to Coney Island in Rita Ackermann’s 50-foot mural above Jones Walk. Graphically rendered in black, white, and golden yellow against the background of the Cyclone’s sweeping arcs, Ackermann’s femme fatales twirl and pose high above the crowds promoting a demonic carnival of darker, hidden attractions.”

ATZ contacted Rita Ackermann via her gallery, but we haven’t yet received a response. If you happen to know the artist, please tell her to get ready to add the word “demolished” to her resume.

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Related posts on ATZ…

January 25, 2010: Bruce Handy’s Photo Album: Doomed Dreamland Artist Club Mural

January 19, 2010: Nathan Slept Here! Coney Island’s Feltman’s Kitchen Set for Demolition

January 11, 2010: Steeplechase Pool, Zip Coaster Sites to Be De-Mapped for Housing

October 9, 2009: A Rare Peek Inside Endangered Old Bank of Coney Island

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