Some things bear repeating in this column and one of those subjects is the Arcade Building in Riverside that in March was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
It joins two other structures in the village on that list: the Avery Coonley Estate and the F.F. Tomek House. The entire village of Riverside has been on the list for its landscape design since 1970.
Aside from its historic significance, there is more to the story of the Arcade Building.
Growing up in Riverside, one took for granted the majestic building, which had a grandeur of its own. Its first floor covered in stucco, one was not aware of what was hidden under the covering until many years later, when it was brought forth through restoration.
Before being restored, the Arcade Building was known for its shops, not its beauty, and over the years it had many businesses many very successful.
Probably one of the most successful businesses was the Grill-ette. Long before cellphones and social media the Grill-ette was a local teenager’s means of staying connected. This is where everyone met, conversed, made plans and had something to eat.
There was nothing like a plate of fries and a Coke to keep a teen going. The décor consisted of a long counter and booths with juke boxes on the wall to play your favorite Top 10 song. OK, kids, your parents will explain it to you.
The corner of the building, nearest the tracks, housed a tobacco store where commuters would purchase cigarettes for their daily train ride. Penny candy and other snacks were available much to the delight of children. Businesses came and went, including Uncle Frankie’s doughnuts (warm and yummy), the macramé store (yes I can still do a half-hitch), a photographer’s studio, a small grocery store, bike shop, Chew Chew Cafe, Grumpy’s — and then it all went away and the grand dame fell into disrepair and neglect. It was sad.
Enter Giuseppe Zappani, who in 2010 purchased the building and uncovered the beauty of the building that once was, with its lovely contrasting red and cream brick and the stained glass. We can now view the building, remembering its glory days and the promise of what’s to come to add another chapter to its history.