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
In Search Of The Source

In Search Of The Source

November 26, 2014  |  Vantage

As gorgeous a landscape as the Wissahickon Creek carves through Philadelphia, it couldn't possibly begin its journey to the Schuylkill as an inlet from a shopping mall parking lot. Could it? Brad Maule heads to the suburbs to find out > more

Moshulu Renovation Aims For A More Authentic Design

Moshulu Renovation Aims For A More Authentic Design

November 26, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Barque owner getting design-inspiration from Ralph Lauren, Orinoka Mills a go, holiday display tells of South Philly’s days as a celebrity hotspot, and new work rules really are improving Convention Center’s future prospects > more

Philly Still On The 2016 DNC Short List

Philly Still On The 2016 DNC Short List

November 25, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Philly included in the three prospective DNC cities, planning money for Fox Chase trail, apartment complex changes hands amid redevelopment, and East Falls residents debate where to put a dog park > more

The Gilded Mall Of Market Street: Gimbels Had It

The Gilded Mall Of Market Street: Gimbels Had It

November 24, 2014  |  Vantage

Where the great Gimbels department store once stood a parking lot sits today. With the recent rejection of a casino license for the site, it looks like it may stay that way for now. Shadowbat has the story behind this long gone, cherished Philadelphia institution and the development black hole that is left in its place at 8th and Market > more

On Improving Urban-Suburban Relations

On Improving Urban-Suburban Relations

November 24, 2014  |  Morning Blend

Giving thanks for living in a great Greater Philadelphia, developer promises a catalyst for renewal of one South Philly neighborhood, Waverly Court units to double, and a warehouse-to-residential > more

We Haven't Forgotten: Gimbels Thanksgiving Parade Was The First

We Haven’t Forgotten: Gimbels Thanksgiving Parade Was The First

November 24, 2014  |  Vantage

Another first Philadelphia can claim is inventing the Thanksgiving Day parade. Gimbels department store started it all in 1920. Kyrie Greenberg gives us the backstory on this iconic public celebration > more