Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cabot Farms, Somerville

It's damn cold, cold, cold! Last year was the first Massachusetts winter for me, and I was thinking it's manageable. Ughhh, I was duped. My arms are swelling like Popeye from snow shoveling. I love my Bean Boots, but am getting bored with wearing the same pair day after day. I need somewhere to schmooze like a lethargic lizard to escape from the cold and snow...

Looking at this abandoned function hall, I was imagining myself as a stuffed reptile in the lounge room. It wasn't appealing. Instead, I changed my mind as a dapper drummer smokin' a cigar or pianist who occasionally wears a funny hut and orders a drink saying "Straight, No Chaser"...I confess, I would be quite trashed if I did that. At Cabot Farms, time has stopped sometimes around the mid 20th century.

This glass block clad place has been closed for at least 2o years. Abandoned places tend to draw our rich imagination, so does Cabot Farms. If you ask about the place to Somervillians, they'll tell you rumors something like a real life heist film. Huuum, Somerville.

The premise had several functions: Cabot Farms was a function room catered for events like wedding receptions and group meetings. On Broadway Dance Club took over the place briefly in the 80's as a non-smoking club. A doorway in the middle is an entrance to the apartments upstairs which are still in use. Proudly air conditioned -- I experienced such a claim while I was traveling India-- Garden Room seems to idea...the old folks' boozy-woozy hangout? Each clue on the facade encapsulates the owner's imagination and the time passed by. Let me show you some examples: 

The above is a window dressing for Garden Room. Actually, it does look like a makeshift board-ups...The decoration is comprised with the pictures depicting the history of office environment and technology. Don't see the connection between the Garden and office technology? I'll explain it to you:

My grandpa used to work as a typist.
However, the ruthless wave of technology alienated him.
Now he stays in the place called Garden Room all day long.

What caught my attention is the detail in the "future" office space.

Pen tablet = the future technology

At Cabot Farm/On Broadway part of the premise, the never ending Christmas show is going on. Look at the Christmas themed decorations like pine corns, red and silver decoration balls, and silver dust on the bottom of the window. And don't forget saying hello to the lovely Satchmo; even educated fleas do it.

I need a polarizing filter badly...

Sorry, but who is that dude? He's like James Bond look-a-like. I mean a Sean Connery type, but not as sharp as the Scotchman. I asked Brian: "Ahhhh, James Cagney? No, no, Al Jolson. Don't you think?"

Don't ask me. Maybe, Maybe not.

The result of an image search for Al Jolson made me very nervous; he made his career as a minstrel man in 1927 movie the Jazz singer. No wonder why I didn't know him. Wait, wait, why is he right next to Louis Armstrong!!??
Al Jolson paved the way for African-American performers like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, and Ethel Waters.It is remarkable that a Jewish mamma's boy from Lithuania could do so much to bridge the cultural gap between black and white America. --From Broadway: The American Musical by PBS
Okay, it can be interpreted like that, but I cannot help thinking it's a cynical display of American show biz.

Instead of getting worked up with photos, I decided to examine the wall. Some insists calling these glass blocks as "VFW bricks", because it helps diffusing the morning light for the old folks inside.What a brilliant interpretation.

I like the green facade, there's a nostalgic ring to it. But why....oh, it's the color of the 80's dial home phone when I was little. That faded lime green PVC body with ceramic like shine. I wonder whether kids now know how to use a dial phone. They are not going to push the hole instead of rotating it, are they?

So, who owns the place now? Are there any plans to convert the space? The answer is simple: it is still owned by the same family. The conversion plan is not on the board because there seems to be an inheritance issue. Oh, that reminds me another abandoned restaurant with similar trouble, Sahara Syrian Restaurant in South End. Instead of being gentrified, those restaurants stay put as an unintended private museum of Boston social life.

Locate Cabot Farms @ Google Map

Ghost Building TwoHarrumph!
Remember Cabot Farms?: the Somerville News
30 to 35 yeas later and so much has changed: the Somerville News Blog


  1. So glad you profiled Cabot Farms! It's my favorite non-functional building in the area and always catches your eye driving or walking through Powderhouse Circle. Never saw that picture of the art tablet + computer before, either.

  2. Hi, Matthew.

    I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
    You should check out the pic. of pen tablet + computer room. The detail is so amazing.


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