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.