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 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 senior program manager 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!

Trackbacks

  1. Phillies Links of the Day For September 20, 2012 | Philadelphia Phillies Dugout Online | Philadelphia Phillies Blog

Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
L&I An Overlooked Asset To Historic Preservation Efforts

L&I An Overlooked Asset To Historic Preservation Efforts

November 16, 2018  |  Vantage

Dana Rice looks at "demolition by neglect" and the potential of the Department of Licenses and Inspections as an unlikely ally in the fight to solve Philly's preservation crisis > more

The Making & Breaking Of The Philadelphia Commercial Museum

The Making & Breaking Of The Philadelphia Commercial Museum

November 14, 2018  |  Vantage

Edward Duffy takes us back when industry, commerce, and foreign trade flooded the halls of the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, the first institution of its kind in the United States > more

Rare Books Department At FLP Examines A City In Transition

Rare Books Department At FLP Examines A City In Transition

November 9, 2018  |  News

Affordable housing, displacement and gentrification, demolition for redevelopment--sounds a lot like today's local headlines, but Philly has been dealing with these issues for decades. This and more is addressed in the new exhibition, "Philadelphia: The Changing City," now on view at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Ali Roseberry-Polier has the review. > more

Dispatch From the Dolomites: Lamenting the Loss of Northern Italy's Philly Twin

Dispatch From the Dolomites: Lamenting the Loss of Northern Italy’s Philly Twin

November 7, 2018  |  Vantage

Contributor Ann de Forest dials home from Italy where she visits a little chapel that, until recently, had a sibling on Christian Street > more

Secluded Stone Stairway On Lincoln Drive Revealed

Secluded Stone Stairway On Lincoln Drive Revealed

November 2, 2018  |  Vantage

A mysterious set of stairs next to Monoshone Creek leads Sharon Barr on a path to uncover its origins > more

The Ghastly Tale Of South Philly’s Cult Of The Holy Ghost

The Ghastly Tale Of South Philly’s Cult Of The Holy Ghost

October 30, 2018  |  Vantage

A secretive cult dedicated to the worship of a Swiss woman met a horrific end in 19th century South Philly. Ryan Briggs unearths the grim details > more