‘We’re still here’: Demolition of historic Japanese hotel in Old Town prompts outcry

Yamaguchi Hotel

Former Yamaguchi Hotel in Northwest Portland slated for demolition

The structure that stands at the intersection of Northwest 4th Avenue and Glisan Street appears unremarkable at first look.

Its architecture is square and simple, and the dilapidated structure is partially covered in graffiti. But its significance goes beyond the building itself, says Chisao Hata, creative director of living arts at the nearby Japanese American Museum of Oregon.

From 1921 to 1941, the building operated as the Yamaguchi Hotel at the center of Portland’s Nihonmachi, or Japantown, in what’s now also known as Old Town Chinatown. One of the family members, Masae Yamaguchi, was also a well-known midwife within Portland’s Japanese American community in that period.

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Partial demolition of Coconut Grove Playhouse could stall after neighbors’ challenge

Coconut Grove

The Coconut Grove Playhouse was once the center of the Miami theater scene. The historic landmark opened Jan. 1, 1927 as a movie theater. The 1,130-seat theater closed in 2006 due to financial woes.

Plans to tear down part of the Coconut Grove Playhouse hit an obstacle Wednesday night when Miami’s planning board sided with neighbors who challenged the demolition.

The city’s Planning and Zoning Appeals Board upheld an appeal from Anthony Vinciguerra and Courtney Berrien, a couple whose home on Charles Avenue is within 500 feet of the Playhouse. They want to stop Miami-Dade County from demolishing part of the structure as part of a plan to restore a piece of the property and build a new auditorium.

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Neon sign for Mission Street’s Grand Theater lights up for the first time in decades

Grand Theater

Another of the towering, glowing neon signs leftover from the heyday of Mission Street’s days as a hub of cinema has come back to life. It’s the sign above the Grand Theater, which is now home to arts org Gray Area, at 2665 Mission Street (between 22nd and 23rd).

As Mission Local tells us, while the marquee over the Grand Theater’s entrance has been lit up and advertising Gray Area programming for a few years now, the neon sign had remained dark — and possibly hasn’t been lit up since the last days of that former movie theater in the 1970s. Gray Area executive director Barry Threw tells Mission Local that getting the sign restored and relit was a goal for the organization’s 15th anniversary, which just came in February.

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Former Rockland garage makes national historic registry

Rockland Garage

The former Miller Garage at 25 Rankin St. in Rockland is on the National Register of Historic Places. Photo by Stephen Betts

ROCKLAND — A former garage that served automobile owners in the infancy of the industry has been placed on the National Register of Historic Place.

The former Miller Garage at 25 Rankin St. was formally placed on the national register on Feb. 21.

Owner Michael Mullins credited Ann Morris of the Rockland Historical Society and the staff of the Maine Historic Preservation Commission with the successful placement of the property on the list.

“This is an important milestone in the preservation of the building. Next step is to apply to the National Park Service with a preservation plan,” Mullins said March 12.

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Unique Cafe prepares to reopen in new Worcester location: ‘Think of this place as home’

Unique Cafe Owners

Nadine, left, and Kayanna James, owners of Unique Cafe in Worcester. Tréa Lavery, MassLive

When Unique Cafe closed on Jan. 3, 2022, owners Nadine James and her daughter Kayanna figured they would focus on the catering branch of their business for a while before having another shot at a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

Exactly one year later, on Jan. 3, 2023, Nadine signed to take over an old diner car on Cambridge Street, and now, the Jamaican cafe and juice bar is ready to make a comeback, with plans to hold a soft opening this Friday, March 3.

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Ghosts Signs of Philadelphia: Esslinger’s Brewery in Callowhill

Esslinger's Brewery

Esslinger’s brewery at 401-29 N. 10th Street. Photo: Jordan Keiffer

The busy intersection of 10th Street, Callowhill Street, and Ridge Avenue is home to one of the oldest, continually-used industrial facilities in the city. The three-sided Art Deco facade of the former Esslinger’s brewery and its stone ghost sign reading “ESSLINGER’S INC. SINCE 1868” is a testament to Philadelphia’s rich beer brewing history. Although Esslinger’s is the most well-known former occupant, the company actually repurposed the buildings, which date back to sometime between 1826 and 1834 and much earlier than the brewery’s occupation of the site from 1879 until 1964. In 2016, Oscar Beisert of The Keeping Society of Philadelphia nominated the former brewery complex at 401-29 N. 10th Street for historic designation and parts of it were listed on the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. Beisert’s research was pivotal in revealing the dense layers of industrial heritage at this site.

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