ASK THE BORED: Falling bricks and rising scaffolds at 218 Pearl Street, once the F. W. Woolworth Co. Building.


Last week the esteemed Bored met on Wednesday, July 5, presumably having partied through the July 3 and 4 vacation days.

Well, I certainly did.

There was a retroactive explanation from the Bored for mysterious alley scaffolding that appeared earlier, in June.

Currently owned by Todd “Classic Furniture” Coleman, the building at 218 – 220 Pearl Street has been dubbed the F. W. Woolworth Co. Building by the New Albany Historic Preservation Commission.

December 2016 Google view.

This was the first New Albany location of retail giant F.W. Woolworth Company. Woolworth’s arrived in New Albany around 1913, and located its ever-popular 5 & 10 Cent store in the south side of this building. By 1919, Woolworth’s had expanded into the north half of the building, and was setting sales records for Indiana stores. The first Woolworth’s Cafeteria in the nation was started on the second floor of 220 Pearl around 1923, by Miss Mildred Sinex. In 1931, Woolworth’s moved its store and cafeteria to the northwest corner of Pearl and Market streets. Karl Fenger Hardware, Steiden Grocery Store, and Winn-Dixie Supermarket all occupied the building for a period of time over the next 20 years. From the late 1950s through the early 1970s, the building became home to the popular Walter Kahn Department Store, home of the latest women’s fashions.

More recently, it has been occupied on the ground floor by an interior designer doing business as MESH (home decor).

As a footnote, bricks with a tendency to fall from the building’s rear alley side (and occasionally from the front) were first mentioned at NAC in 2009 and 2010, during England III.

Here’s the alley scaffolding view from June, 2017.

In an effort to grasp why this, and why now, recall a fond and favored quality-of-life project of the dearly departed redevelopment commission’s Commandante Duggins, who now has been moved out of harm’s way to Future Gahan Luxury Housing.

Dugout’s alley coolification is currently under way.

SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Placemaking and the gentle art of nixing community stakeholders when applying lipstick to an alley.

Of course, dozens of city streets remain inadequately illuminated on a daily basis, which does nothing to enhance public safety, but I digress. It would be useful if either David Duggins or the newspaper explained what is meant by “more of a place” in the context of gentrifying an alley, and because neither has done so, this week’s word is placemaking.

In conjunction with decorative dumpsters, in March our City Hall announced a bold new facade grant program cheerfully funded (partially, at least) from Horseshoe’s coffers. The 75-25 public/private facade improvement description reads as if to precisely describe the flagship Schmitt Furniture and Classic Furniture buildings, which no doubt are the program’s targets, though the largess might be spread elsewhere, too.

City Hall describes the four major projects to be funded (in part?) through the Horseshoe Foundation’s $5 million gift.

New Albany has a plethora of beautiful, historic buildings in its downtown. Unfortunately, over the years, some of these buildings have had windows shuttered and closed off, original brick walls painted over, and historic character lost. Some buildings have even been painted together to appear as one structure. This project will seek to revitalize, refurbish, and redevelop buildings and facades in the downtown area, reinvigorating these historic structures to their original historic look, including improved windows and uncovered original brickwork.

Finally, the White House has been renovated on the north side of 218 Pearl, and MESA on the south. Across the street, two separate building rehabs are under way. The Merchants Bank on the corner of Pearl and Main seems to be next for an upgrade.

In some combination, elements of the preceding probably explain the alley scaffolding. If the city had a communications director, I’d ask him, but it’s doubtful he’d return the phone call, so …