I guess I never paid much attention to the plaque outside ST. MARKS SOUNDS at 20 St. Marks Place, 'cause my eyes sorta bugged out when I saw an entry for the building in my recently-purchased copy of Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel's The Landmarks of New York (New York: Monacelli Press, 2005). [God bless BMV Books!] Dating from 1832 and designated as a landmark in 1969, the house has some significant Old New York ties; its original owner was Daniel LeRoy, a South Street merchant who was a son-in-law of Elizabeth and Nicholas Fish (Elizabeth was a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant) and brother-in-law to Hamilton Fish. Diamonstein-Spielvogel writes:
The LeRoy House is constructed in Flemish bond brickwork trimmed with stone. It is one of four houses on the block that retain the ornately decorated iron handrails at the stoop, low, birdcage newel posts, and iron railings in the windows of the parlor floor. The arched stone entrance has a triple keystone and a Gibbs surround. Utilitarian doors and a plain transom have replaced the original entrance and its beautiful fanlight.
According to Andrew S. Dolkart's Guide to New York City Landmarks, Second Edition (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1998), the building is the "sole intact survivor" of a former "elegant row of 3 1/2-story brick houses erected on speculation by Thomas E. Davis."
As for the store--it's a fun place to look for bargain used CDs and vinyl, but I usually found its selection of new items to be lacking in breadth and depth. More new stuff used to be available at its sister location a few doors down at 16 St. Marks, but that shop is closed down now. I've never been to the Grassroots Tavern at the ground floor of 20 St. Marks, but it's apparently a pleasant dive.
From the "Still Spotting Cheetahs" file: There's a jazz specialty channel on Canadian digital cable called Cool TV--I watch it mainly for its Ed Sullivan, Judy Garland, Rosemary Clooney & Nat King Cole reruns, and also for its nightly "Cool Movie," which is either a great old musical or a drama about music. This past weekend they showed Young Man With A Horn, about the rise, fall, and resurrection of a trumpet player (supposedly loosely based on the life of Bix Beiderbecke). The story was rather predictable, but the cast couldn't be beat (Kirk Douglas, Doris Day, Lauren Bacall, & Hoagy Carmichael), the trumpet parts were dubbed in by Harry James, and there were lotsa lovely location shots of L.A. and NYC. Particularly notable among these were some long scenes at the Aragon Ballroom, which would years later be the home of the L.A. Cheetah. (Notice how I've conveniently bypassed discussion of the Aragon's '50s Lawrence Welk phase.)
And I'm gonna "See the Cheetah (At the Hangout)" tonite, when the Woggles play a rare Toronto gig at the Horseshoe Tavern!