Behind a beat up looking storefront on Sixth Street near Broadway lies an elaborate, Dutch-themed, tiled interior designed by the famous tilist Ernest Batchelder in his first major commission. It appears to have been used most recently as a Metro PCS store (the secret was locked up behind steel grates and particle board). But now the old Chocolate Shoppe is being brought back to life by something called The Dutch Chocolate Shop. Historian Richard Schave recently brought a group in for a tour of the under-refurbishment space (which is designated a city historic-cultural monument) and, along with architectural historian Nathan Marsak and tile expert Brian Kaiser, explains the background and restoration in a video after the jump.
According to the dearly departed Big Orange Landmarks blog, the building was built in 1898 and the groundfloor space was converted into a soda parlor around 1914 by architects Plummer & Feil. Batchelder was hired for the tile job: "I’m talking floor, walls, and ceiling, with larger tiles – around 4” x 4” – laid into the walls while bigger murals beneath the groined arches (really, that’s what they’re called) are more mosaic." It was supposed to be a prototype for a chain of European country-themed soda shops, but this was the only location ever built. (And it was immortalized in the 1918 Dorothy Gish film The Hope Chest.) The space became Finney's Cafeteria at an unknown later date and in 1986 the space sold to owners who ended up turning it into a crappy arcade. Who knows what happened between then and now, but it was apparently all good--the Dutch Chocolate Shop website promises "The Chocolate Shop is coming back to life. Ernest Batchelder's unique murals can be seen again!"