Downtown Dirt by Manhole: Previewing Scruffy City Hall


Scruffy City Hall. A dramatization.

Imagine, if you can, a veritable tower at 32 Market Square, a citadel, a mighty monument rising and casting a vast and engulfing shadow on the scorched earth; a fortress that grants its lords a perfect vantage from which to take their ease as they pour boiling cauldrons of yak’s blood on the bleached and rotting bones of their enemies below.

Won’t happen, Jake. But just so everyone knows, it could. Because Scott and Bernadette West, proprietors of our very own Preservation Pub, have big plans for the space at 32 M.S., soon to be known as Scruffy City Hall. They’ve dug a basement out of the damned thing–where previously none existed–then brought in and poured so many tons of concrete that the whole deal probably could support a freakin’ castle, if the Benefactors actually decided that’s what they wanted to fill the space.

“We’ve got a pretty solid skeleton now,” says Scott West, with that rude twinkle in his eye, the one that usually earns a sharp poke in the floating ribs from his better half. “We could make the building taller if we wanted. The foundation is stronger than it’s ever been.”

Point being that, no, there are no plans for a second Sunsphere or a Sears Tower over at 32 M.S. But we like to talk Big, just to keep our options on the table and scare the living shit out of everyone else in town.

Now, it would seem that the well-publicized plans to fashion SCH as an “Appalachian Viking bar” were a bit premature. Not pointing any fingers, other than to say that a certain Mr. West takes creative license to florid extremes when he’s in his cups.

Though, in the final analysis, we haven’t really moved too far off the mark, as “Appalachian Viking” has been changed to “Heathen Gothic”, so as to be inclusive of other Pagan creeds, Celtic and Mayan and Hawaiian and Wiccan and Eastern and, shit, even Scientology, the whack-job “religion” founded by a greedhead ‘50s-era science fiction hack that says human beings were brought to earth in D.C. 8 airplanes by the tyrant leader of a galactic confederacy 75 million years ago.

Hell, for that matter, Jesus freaks and devil worshippers are welcome, too. The theme is mostly an excuse for a vast array of bad-ass décor. Because the number one “religion” at Scruffy City Hall, the unifying principle around which people of all faiths, creeds, and colors can coalesce is: Beer.

Remember the dug-out basement we mentioned? In that very space, brewmeister Sir Logan of Wentworth will operate Scruffy City Brewery. Many of you man know Sir Logan, or at least recognize him. He has a bit of a rep built on his top-notch brewing skills and his Legit Brew neighborhood-sized house parties.

Now he’ll have a regular venue from which to ply his trade; look for the brewery to be up and running in April, and for the impressive (30 feet long) first-floor bar to eventually devote about a third of its 30 taps to Logan’s best.

So what else will separate SCH from other, lesser Heathen Gothic nightspots around town? If you have to ask, you probably haven’t been paying much attention, Jake. But for the sake of those who are perceptually challenged, we’ll go over some of the finer points.

Finer points such as the three non-chandelier candelabras that will hang from the cathedral ceiling near the stage, equipped for potential use by trained aerialists(!!) Such as the crystal waterfall, filled with thousands of pounds of crystals, extending through all three floors near the front of the hall. And did I say three floors? Look for SCH to have a roof deck, open sometime in 2014.

But what’s really going to set SCH apart from a design standpoint is its nifty second-floor layout, with its creative deployment of various arches, catwalks, and balconies. Two balconies will surround the stage area—one behind it, and one in front of it, with multiple tiers and faux-stained glass adornments.

But the Big One will be the loggia, the open, recessed interior balcony overlooking Market Square. And not to be confused with Robert Loggia, the guy who played Al Pacino’s first mafia boss in Scarface back in 1983. No, but this is the spot that caused all the fuss with the Powers That Be, over whether Scott and B. were gonna take an already-despoiled façade and make it look like something old, but not enough like something old, or else not old in the right way, or some damned thing…

The final result: three Gothic arches, constructed from the very bricks that were torn out of that space in the first place, will overlook the Square, but with no windows to buffer. And not to worry; the interior of SCH closes off with sound buffers, to avoid noise issues.

Because it is all about the music. West says booking arrangements for the Hall will be wide open, flexible; look for local movie premieres, too, as the venue will have a top-notch projection system. Scruffy City Hall’s Grand Opening happens New Year’s Eve with the Black Cadillacs, former Pub favorites whose popularity has outstripped the Pub’s SRO capacity.

Please come out that evening, and enjoy what is sure to be a most memorable opening. But for those of you who would stand in the way of our progress—and you know who you are—consider this a warning. Do not f@#$ with us. For we are not trifling people. We will be standing on the loggia, cauldrons at the ready.

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