A reader asked us about an odd, brown shed on the 1200 block of Fitzwater St., a building we’ve thought about ourselves from time to time over the years. It sits on the same parcel as the Hawthorne Lofts, the 54-unit condo building developed by the Rufo Company. This Hawthorne Lofts building, as you can probably guess from looking at it, was once a school.
The Nathaniel Hawthorne Public School was constructed on this site in 1908 and operated as a school until 1980. Shortly thereafter, according to the Rufo Company, it was converted into low-income housing units. This makes sense, since the Hawthorne Square PHA towers were right next door at the time. In 2008, Rufo acquired the building and completed the change-over to market rate condos. This also makes plenty of sense, as the neighborhood has come up significantly since the PHA high-rises came down in 1999.
The shed, with Hawthorne Lofts in the background
Back to the shed, we don’t know where it came from or what its function is at the moment, but we’d have to imagine it could have a more productive use for the general public. The reader who inquired about it had heard about plans to remove the fence that’s in front of the shed and to create a restaurant space in the building.
Is this something that could have legs on this block? If not a restaurant, is there some other commercial application that could succeed here? On the other hand, newish businesses on 13th St. in this area have a poor track record, with a corner store and a cafe coming and going in the last three years. With that in mind, would a commercial entity be doomed here from the start?
We’ll keep an eye out for anything that develops here, and an ear open for any rumors that could be floating around…