Passersby formed a small crowd at the corner of Oak Bluffs Avenue and Kennebec Avenue Tuesday morning to bear witness as an excavator demolished the Old Variety Store.
The souvenir shop was built around 1870, and has been listed in the Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System (MACRIS).
Over its lifetime, the Old Variety Store had served as an array of themed shops, from candy and beverages to souvenirs; and later, even Mexican food.
The building itself was known as the Herald kiosk, eventually replacing the former Tallman kiosk. The first documented building owner of that site, Charles S. Tallman, was gifted the Tallman kiosk in 1874 by the Oak Bluffs Land and Wharf Co., after having been the sole survivor of an 1866 shipwreck, historical records state. Unable to continue his career as a seaman due to injuries stemming from the wreck of his schooner, Christina, Tallman later made a living selling peanuts and souvenirs out of the shop.
The demolition of the more than 150-year-old souvenir shop, abutting the historic Flying Horses Carousel and located at 10 Oak Bluffs Ave., was unanimously approved via special permit by the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals last August.
The 0.04-acre property in which the dilapidated building sat was purchased by Joseph Moujabber, a co-owner of Nancy’s restaurant, in December 2017 for $700,000. Engineer George Sourati and architect Ethan McMorrow were hired to design a new structure for the downtown location.
According to the zoning board of appeals’ decision, the height of the proposed replacement structure will be around 25 feet, and the building’s footprint “has been reduced, and will not encroach onto adjacent property.”
According to a Martha’s Vineyard Commission staff report, the site will house a first-floor commercial building that is set to include a bakery, with a 589-square-foot second-floor apartment.
I’m all for preserving what and how we can of our heritage, and rebuilding when necessary. When the Bank redid the other end of the Variety Shop. It worked diligently to retain the character of the building to remain a good architectural representation and staple of our town. Now if we could only get the last BIG eyesore taken care of at the gateway to Circuit Avenue Oak Bluffs…on the right side of the street.
About time the powers that be let this owner do something with that eyesore. When was the last time that building was used as a business? I cannot remember anything being there for at least 25 years.
You have a short memory.
I’m with Patti Leighton. This Island Theater continues to be a disgrace. How is it possible that neither the owner nor the town is able to at least keep the building looking presentable?
Amidst all the downtown improvements, this building remains an ever-present eyesore.
Agree!! It’s time for action. With so much money spent on town improvements, and to respect the store-owners who take care of their property, beautifying and benefiting the town, Oak Bluffs must do something about the building that is at the center of town, the focal-point that is an embarrassment.
Did anyone read that at the site of the building they just removed, there is going in its place, one that is to be 25 feet high? That’s taller than the Island theater you all are mentioning as an eyesore, it’s to be as tall as the building next to the Santander Bank.
How does a thin tower get to be put in next to the Flying Horses? Let’s see the plans and elevations. Will it be appropriate for the site. Or does anyone in OB care?
It’s all been vetted by the appropriate committees with much public input. Do you live in a vacuum?
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