Ghost Building Two

September 26th, 2007 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

First it was Ashmont, which was far too overpriced to attract buyers, and now let us consider Cabot Farms, apparently locked in some mysterious post-mortem struggle.Cabot Farms marquee

Pix: Click on an image for a little larger version.

Those of us on the southern side of Boston — JP, HP and Rozzie, not Southie — have oldster moments ruing the closing of Ashmont. Not only was that nowhere near Ashmont, but it was a portmanteau of oddments. Sure, there were construction supplies in the back, but that’s not what people came for. There was no need to head to the ‘burbs for a vacuum-cleaner bag. No matter how outdated or unusual your little sucker was, Ashmont had that bag. Likewise, it still carried the glass door knob sets, and if you had lights that used the big clear screw-in bulbs usually available only during Christmas, Ashmont had those all year. Hardware, housewares, electronics…whatever.

That looks like it will become a Staples. Yawn.

Apparently the owners finally relented a bit on their outrageous price, enough for a rich chain to buy in. The entirely forgettable replacement brings Natick right into Beantown.

About 10 miles north-ish in Somerville on the Medford line, another long abandoned business on another busy main drag looks to remain empty, despite eager customers. The Cabot Farms/On Broadway/Garden thingummy has become the stuff of whispered tales in Powderhouse Square. The view from 880 Broadway is through dirty glass. The view into it is of barstools which haven’t felt the weight of relaxed drunks for decades.

Cabot Farms signThe skeletal marquee frame presages horrors that apparently have never happened there. The major Cabot Farms sign is replete with heavy undergrowth and its very own car door at the base.

The front is mostly what I insist on calling VFW brick — those glass blocks so popular at men’s clubs when the old guys gather to drink from the morning as heavily diffused light shields them from the world.

There is an abandoned function hall, The Garden at the other end, which apparently got a little use for wedding receptions and such a decade or so ago. The middle has a small, still used apartment set, which must generate enough income for building expenses. The northern side that was Cabot Farms catering and restaurant and then briefly in the 1980s, On Broadway nightclub, is the time capsule, apparently sealed for the past 20 years.

Cabot Farms  front door

The building front has large poster-style musicians, Satchmo and Sinatra, with the implications of nightlife and vitality far more intense the Tufts area reputation. On the outside of the inner door glass is a sign reading, “PRIVATE PARTY PLEASE NO SMOKING INSIDE THE PREMISES.” That very late 20th Century attitude belies the best legends about 880.

There are whispered tales of politicians, mobsters and celebrities. There’s one that says it hasn’t been used since John Kennedy was last there.

What you can see inside has a great Cheese it! look. The classic post-WWII red barstools and gear left around suggests a panicked exit, followed by locking up…forever.

Someone I know who casually knows the owners has a more plausible explanation. The property seems to be imprisoned in some probate hell. I couldn’t find any record through the county of 880 changing hands, at least since 1974 when the online records start. The probate court doesn’t do online, except for currently scheduled cases.

Cabot Farms at sunsetInstead, this property attacts many interested potential revivifers. It seems they all get turned away. The property is not for sale. The owners responsible for the apartments say that the trust is not interested in selling. Oooo, the trust.

I can’t prove it (let if know if you have solid info), but it smacks of a family dispute. I can see greedy relatives across two or three generations all sharing in the inheritance that includes 880. It would only take one who figured that this is worth a great fortune (fat chance!) and holding up any settlement or division in terror that he will somehow be swindled out of what is rightfully his.

I like that version.

Meanwhile on Broadway, there’s a thriving haute Mexican joint, Tu Y Yo, a few doors away, a popular bike shop and around the triangular intersection several hopping restaurants. The ghost restaurant gathers dust, bidders and folklore.

It’s always sunset at Cabot Farms.


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