Bringing Baseball Back To North Philly

 

Photo: Hidden City Daily

The unusual white building that dominates the intersection of Sixth and Girard generates little activity, but this will change if Fishtown resident David Gavigan gets his way. Last night, Gavigan, a 2009 graduate of Penn State University, went before the South Kensington Community Partners to present his plan to convert a 5,000 square foot portion of 527-529 Girard Avenue into an indoor batting cage facility.

In what one SKCP member called the “world’s shortest” review, the group unanimously agreed to recommend that the city grant necessary approval. All of the members agreed that Gavigan’s business, Everybody Hits, will breathe new life into the area and into a building with a surprisingly multifaceted history.

Erected during the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the building first housed an indoor farmers’ market. Because the market was small in comparison to the nearby Girard Avenue Farmers Market and located just one block above the northern terminus of the Marshall Street corridor, the market did not endure as long as these competitors. Both the Girard Avenue Farmers Market and the Jewish-run Marshall Street corridor survived until the 1960s.

Movie screen from when the building was a theater, and faded signs on either side of the screen from when it was a farmer’s market | Photo: Hidden City Daily

After a short stint as the Sixth Street Farmers’ Market, the building was converted into a movie theater. The Mammoth Theater, located on the first floor, was modest in scale and design. Little is known about the Mammoth, except that it showed feature films and maintained a last run policy. It persisted until 1936.

Over the course of the last sixty years, the building has served as a bowling alley, pool hall, nightclub, scratch and dent appliance showroom, and makeshift porn film studio. This last use came as an unwelcome surprise to longtime owner Franklin Berger. Berger’s family has owned the building since 1958.

In the space that Gavigan occupies, just east of the small dollar store, reminders of the farmers’ market and movie theater remain. Legible ghost signs from the market era and a framed screen from the theater era still grace the walls. Gavigan plans to retain and somehow highlight these elements, but first and foremost, he hopes to bring baseball back to the area in which it took root locally. “I want to see kids learning the game and full grown adults remembering it,” he says.

“Wholesale Dealer Lobsters/Oysters Crabs.” Ghost sign from when the building was a farmer’s market | Photo: Hidden City Daily

Ghost sign from when the building was a farmer’s market | Photo: Hidden City Daily

“Dressed Beef” ghost sign from when the building was a farmer’s market | Photo: Hidden City Daily

6th Street side of the former Mammoth Theater building in 1992 | Photo: Susan Babbitt

“Dance Entrance” | Photo: Hidden City Daily

About the author

Rachel Hildebrandt, a recent graduate of PennDesign, is a native Philadelphian who is passionate about the changing city she inhabits. Before beginning her graduate studies in historic preservation with a focus on policy, Rachel obtained a B.A. in Psychology from Chestnut Hill College and co-authored two books, The Philadelphia Area Architecture of Horace Trumbauer (2009) and Oak Lane, Olney, and Logan (2011). She currently works as a program associate at Partners for Sacred Places.



3 Comments


  1. Whoa, awesome!

  2. Super excited for this! It’s going to be a big HIT :)

    Gooo David!

  3. Go Dave!!!

Trackbacks

  1. Phillies Links of the Day For September 20, 2012 | Philadelphia Phillies Dugout Online | Philadelphia Phillies Blog
Recent Posts
'Scared Half To Death,' Reporter Says

‘Scared Half To Death,’ Reporter Says

August 28, 2014  |  Vantage

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbia Avenue riot. For the second installment of our series, we have a first person account by Philadelphia Evening Bulletin reporter William Naulty, who was sent in to cover the mayhem on the night of August 28, 1964. > more

Roxborough Sawmill Preserves An Old Industrial Aesthetic

Roxborough Sawmill Preserves An Old Industrial Aesthetic

August 28, 2014  |  Morning Blend

One man's mission to preserve the physical history of industrial Philadelphia, groundbreaking for Rodin Square, street mural requested for Triangles Plaza, the genesis of JFK and 30th Street Station, and this weekend's Made in America Fest > more

Bridesburg, Riverfront Neighborhood Now With Riverfront Access

Bridesburg, Riverfront Neighborhood Now With Riverfront Access

August 28, 2014  |  News

With a land swap championed by Councilman Bobby Henon, Philadelphia gained a win-win scenario with the expansion of Dietz & Watson's facilities and a new riverfront park. Plan Philly's Jared Brey and Hidden City's Brad Maule explore the future park in Bridesburg—the riverfront neighborhood which will finally have access to the riverfront > more

Rodeph Shalom As A Beacon On North Broad

Rodeph Shalom As A Beacon On North Broad

August 27, 2014  |  Morning Blend

A look at the historic Jewish synagogue’s expansion, the economic importance of bike lanes, Suzanne Roberts Theater gets $2.5 million boost, remembering the Philadelphia Trades School, and approvals from the Historical Commission > more

Spruce Street Harbor Park To Remain Open Extra Month (Updated)

Spruce Street Harbor Park To Remain Open Extra Month (Updated)

August 27, 2014  |  Buzz

The overwhelming success of the pop-up park convinces officials to keep the party going > more

When Columbia Avenue Erupted

When Columbia Avenue Erupted

August 27, 2014  |  Vantage

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the Columbia Avenue riot, an incident that would deeply impact North Philadelphia and the politics of the city for decades to come. "When Columbia Avenue Erupted" is the first installment of a four-part series that begins today. > more