Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The mystery of the secret tunnel, and other Hot Glendale gossip from the locals.

There is this thing called Facebook, and The Cave has a page on FB that has been broken for three months.  I can post, but I can't access the feed.  Ergo, the many interests we share - beer, wine, historical buildings, and all things local - have been inaccessible.

So instead I've been trolling other FB bits of interest, and this is from the group "Growing up in Glendale in the 60's and 70's."  (There is also a group called Vintage Glendale which we will do another time.)  I scrolled back through to the beginning of this group, and this post is about what bits of interest were found.  But first, The Mystery of the Secret Tunnel, which has taken me three months to solve...or is it?  Solved?

It begins with this, posted July 2013.

She later insists:

We get our first clues:

We get an attempt of reason:

And it's true, The Silver Room was here in the basement of the old hotel.  But does that negate the original claim? The mystery is ON.  Stop 1, The Tattoo Parlor.  Why? Because The Cave was built in 1982, so if there were a secret tunnel down here, it's behind lockers. Also, the matter is easily resolved based on one thing: is there a basement in the building across the street.

That's Body Shop Tattoo, behind the tree and wedged between the pawn shop and Dave's.  (Hey, not every corner in Glendale can be Caruso Affiliated.)

I asked the guy, "Is there a basement in this building?" 
Not to his knowledge.
"Did this used to be a barber shop?"

He suggested I try Dave's. Dave's was not the barber shop because Dave's is the oldest bar in Glendale.  I went to Dave's.  I asked the guy, "Is there a basement in this building?" Not to his knowledge.  I asked if there might be one that has since been locked up, inaccessible.  He suggested I try the owner who was on vacation.  I left The Cave contact info.  The woman sitting on the bar stool chimed in that the tunnel was actually a sewer pipe and it was filled in when they re-paved Broadway in the eighties.  The possibly sotted plot thickens!

While waiting to hear from the owner of Dave's, I emailed some people who were affiliated with this building for many years, during the time period in question. Broadway-Glendale Co. bought the building in 1975.  The basement was virtually untouched, the original restaurant, its horseshoe bar, intact.  If there were a tunnel, it would be evident then.  Was it?  The answer was no, that there was no memory of a tunnel.

After a few weeks I went back to Dave's.  "Not to his knowledge," the guy told me, though the owner has only been around a certain time and may not know.  This time, I was given the number of the management company for the block.  I called.

"Is there a basement in that building."  I told the woman who got stuck with me and my query that I thought no one wanted to tell me because they thought I might be a terrorist.  SHE told me: that there actually IS, not so much a basement as a small storage area. But not under the tattoo parlor - nee - barber shop. 

So there was no secret tunnel running from the once barber shop, under Broadway, to The Hotel Glendale basement during prohibition or ever.

HOWEVER.  There are other possibilities, very real ones, and the plot thickens.  Stay with me here:
1. There is a barber shop:

This is the current barber shop on the retail level of the old Hotel, Sevak Haircut Store.

And this is...Sevak?  No, Mike.  Sevak is his son. When Mike took over the space 27 years ago, he changed the name to Sevak which means there has been a barber shop in this space a really long time, if not forever.  There seems to be a barber pole on the building in old photos, but it's not clear enough to be sure.   Mike has been cutting hair 55 years.  He was born in Iran, then lived in Armenia, and then Glendale.  He's been to 80 countries, he tells me. He loves to travel.

2. There is a stairway to the basement:  Once upon a time, the main stairwell of the lobby indeed continued down to the basement, a sweeping entrance into the restaurant and social room. That stairwell was closed off when not only The Cave was built, but when the rest of the basement was made into offices during the Broadway-Glendale Co. era.  The defunct restaurant into which it swept - though I've never seen nor read about how it looked - may well indeed have had the red booths and black and white tile so vividly remembered.

BUT. The barber shop does not connect to the lobby.

3. There are other stairs to the basement: 

Some of the retail spaces on the Glendale Avenue side of the building do have stairways that lead down to the basement for restroom access.  NONE of the retail spaces on the Broadway side have them.

SO ... could there have once been a stairway from Sevak's that has since been removed to make space for other enterprises?

I scanned the original blueprints and was unable to identify stairs.  Also, the barber shop has no "footprint" of a once existing stairway, though both that floor and the basement ceiling have been covered over. 

SO ... the possibility exists, not of the tunnel, but that the barber shop in the Hotel Glendale once had a stairway the led down to the defunct restaurant/social room where remained red booths and black and white tiles floor. If that is not the case, it may be a confusion of memory with the main stairwell down to the basement.  If THAT is not the case, it is the stuff of pure fun and fiction.  Or maybe there was a tunnel that was paved over in the 'eighties, who knows.


The building on the left and on the top right are The Maryland Hotel, on the corner of Maryland and Wilson. The two remaining photos are of The Hotel Glendale.

Though the old Hotel has had its storied past, and there is across the street two pawn shops and a tattoo parlor and a bar, look what the new owners have done to it:  Glendale Flats.

The milk doors are still there.

Sadly, the basement door with the original KIEV radio signs has been recently removed.

Mmmm, Rhinegold beer, my favorite. It exquisitely  pairs with Pall Malls.   Glendale Flats is attracting many young urban professionals, or as they are now called, Millennials.  There is here a really nice mix of culture, age, and languages.

The Cave Wine Storage is still there, also known as HERE.

My AC service tech and I have been together eight years and only discovered his last visit that we both think one of the rooms here entirely creepy and haunted.

Now that the bricks are exposed post-renovation, I'll also be thinking of the great grandfather and others whose hands laid them.

The service elevator was an afterthought.  The Hotel was built without one, considered only one of the Hotel's many failures.  If you stand  on Glendale Ave. north of the building and look up, you'll see a line of windows covered over.  They took out a swath of the building to add the elevator.  I once lived in an apartment under the motor of that elevator and it was the bane of my existence.  Now I know who to blame.

I messaged Sherry Phelps Holt in hopes of getting more stories from her about the Hotel during her tenure, but I've not heard back.

If you have any stories or old family photos of the old Hotel Glendale, please do share.