The ragged building at 208 E. First St. in Downtown Duluth is being gutted of debris in preparation for renovation. Bob Monahan and his father, Robert H. R. Monahan, plan to open an “artist friendly” cafe/lounge on the main floor later this year, with a recording studio in the basement level. They have already replaced the roof on the 127-year-old building, which they are in the process of acquiring from Jack Arnold through a contract-for-deed agreement.
Bob Monahan is owner of Chaperone Records in Duluth. He is pictured above in the dank and dusty basement space that will be Chaperone’s new studio and offices.
Monahan said the main level (pictured below) will be an arts venue that serves food and drinks.
“Music will be a focus, but I want the space to be available to anybody with any sort of artistic vision,” he said. “Whether they want to put on theater or film or fashion or spoken word … so it’s a multidimensional dynamic.”
He said he’s “struggling mightily” to come up with a good name. A few on the list of options include: The Handsome Squid, Jetsam and Flotsam, Regulars and South of the Border.
The 2,800-square-foot building has been mostly vacant in recent years. It’s best known as the Rocket Bar, which operated there from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s. It was also the Hippo Restaurant in the early 1980s.
Here’s a cool car that’s temporarily in storage there:
The building has been referenced once before on Perfect Duluth Day, three years ago in the post “What’s wrong with this picture?”
And apparently the Lake Superior Fish Co. operated out of the building in 1913, according to this advertisement from the Duluth News Tribune.