After reading the post about the missing buildings in the 300 block of Warren Street, John Cody contacted Gossips to say that Thomas E. Cody, who operated a restaurant at 330 Warren Street, was his grandfather. The restaurant was named the Opera House Cafe, and it existed until 1917, when Thomas Cody died, at the age of 47. As a young man, in the 1880s, Thomas Cody owned an "oyster saloon" at 1 North Front Street--the address now used for the Chamber of Commerce, located in the former Washington Hose Co. firehouse. At the same time, his brother had his own oyster saloon nearby, at 3 South Front Street.
Curious to know more about these eateries, I discovered that oyster saloons--also called oyster bars, oyster parlors, or oyster cellars--were all the rage in the last half of the 19th century. They were almost always located in cellars, where it was easier to keep ice (before the days of freezers and refrigerators), and the oysters were usually served with beer and liquor. Could it be that Thomas Cody had an oyster saloon in the cellar of the firehouse? Cody told Gossips that his grandfather was part of Washington Hose Co. No. 3, so maybe he did.
But what happened to the five buildings? Gossips got the answer from both Cody and former fire chief Neal Van Deusen. All of them were destroyed by fire on April 16--Good Friday--1965. The fire started on the back porch of one of the buildings. Because of the location, the fire went unnoticed and spread rapidly from the wooden porch structure of one building to the next. Van Deusen, who was still in high school at the time and not yet a fire fighter, told Gossips that he watched the facade of one or more of the buildings collapse into the street.
Given the date of the fire, we need to revise the date of the construction of the little building at 330 Warren Street that was Harold's Lounge. It had to have been built after 1965.
While getting ready to publish this post, I discovered in my files this still from the 1959 film Odds Against Tomorrow. The vantage point is near Third Street, looking east. It shows the north side of Warren Street intact, except for the addition of the 20th-century supermarket building, but, even more amazing, it shows the five-bay building on the south side of the street, which was once the Hotel Lincoln and where now there is a parking lot.