Bye Bye, Bakelite: Sixth Street’s Antiquarian’s Delight Is Closing!
Bakelite bangles. Tintypes. 1970s silk scarves. Books, furniture, jewelry, clothing, paintings, maps, figurines, games–used to be you could find anything and everything at the Antiquarian’s Delight on Sixth Street. But as Racked Philly puts it, “the store’s really taken a nosedive over the past year, attracting one-star Yelp reviewers who aren’t too happy about the shop’s $1 entrance fee.” Surely can’t help the vendors that it’s become so easy to score vintage finds on Etsy and ebay.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the building, which is owned by a generic ownership LLC headquartered at the Bella Vista Beer Distributors Inc. When we called Bella Vista to speak to the Antiquarian Delight building’s owner, we were told he’s currently in Greece. The owner is almost certainly a member of the Fetfatzes family, which owns Bella Vista Beer, Hawthorne’s, the Cambridge (aka Tritone’s) and the Bainbridge Street Barrel House.
The building has an interesting heritage. It was one of four synagogues in Philadelphia’s Jewish Quarter in the early 20th century. The Quarter stretched, according to phillyhistory.org, “from Spruce Street in the north to Christian Street in the South and from 3rd Street to 6th Street east to west.” The building was finished in 1905 and was home to the city’s first Chasidic congregation, B’nai Reuben.
A crowd of 2,000 reportedly descended upon B’nai Rueben on the day of its dedication, clamoring to gain entry.
The building is a rare freestanding synagogue in a densely packed row house district. Constructed in a Roman Baroque style, the facade bears elaborate stone-carved iconography, including Hebrew inscriptions, wreaths and cartouches.
Congregation B’nai Reuben vacated the building in 1956 — a time when many Jews were moving out of South Philadelphia and the city altogether, migrating to the Northeast section of the city and to the northern and western suburbs.
The Passyunk Post reports was sold in November for $1.1 million. The current ownership group does owe back taxes on the building from 2012: a whopping $316.92.
The Passyunk Post hopes for restoration, and says it “looks like it could make a really cool apartment building.” Given its history, residential development may be prohibited.