Monday, February 11, 2008

1620 Euclid Avenue

In 1929, Austrian Herman Pirchner opened the Alpine Village dinner club at 1620 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.


The spot became the rage of stylish Clevelanders throughout the thirties, forties and fifties, boasting two nightly dinner seatings, cigarette girls, roaming photographers, Broadway acts and showgirls. Celebrities such as Henny Youngman, Pearl Bailey and Jimmy Durante graced the stage. Cleveland's Alpine Village was hailed as the most sophisticated night club between New York and Chicago. It sparkled with a Hollywood sort of magic and glamour.


Pirchner was the consummate gran impresario. CSU Special Collections Librarian Bill Barrows told me that Pirchner, clad in traditional Bavarian lederhosen, would run onto the main floor of the club carrying a tray of brimming beer steins. Then he would slide on the seat of his leather shorts across an elevated portion of the stage, hop off the opposite end and present himself, as well as his draught brew to delighted clubbers.

The "HERMAN World's Record--50 Steins." portion of the image below probably references his achievement in a European Strong Man competition, wherein the winner was determined by the number of full beer steins he could heave on a tray.


The nationally renowned club closed in 1962. After that, the building housed the Euphoria nightclub as well as some others before the upper floors gave way to offices. In the late sixties or early seventies, the club went dark and remained abandoned for several years.

Then in 1978, two young business men pried open the sealed doors of 1620 Euclid Avenue and saw something beneath the soot and neglect--some of the same magic that gave the Alpine Village its joie de vivre remained. They would go on to realize their dream, creating a club the likes of which Cleveland had never seen before or since: Nite Moves.

After 30 years, the incredible secrets and stories of Nite Moves will finally be told in this week's Free Times, which hits the streets this Wednesday in a sweeping feature authored by Yours Truly. Of course, I'll link the article here. I will also be on 98.5 WNCX tomorrow morning at about 7 a.m. EST talking about the story.

In the meantime, all I can say, babies, is this:

I want to put on my my my my my boogie shoes
Just to boogie with you.
Yeah.


* * *

The postcard images are courtesy of the Cleveland Memory Project, which is sponsored by Cleveland State University. Make sure you dig the spelling on the black and white image; and I have no idea why the address reads 1614. I love the phrase "Modernly air conditioned" on the second image.

Warning to those following the link above: Careful! You might get lost in all that wonderful old stuff, even if you're not a Clevelander. It's not hard to spend an entire afternoon there.

7 comments:

Hal said...

I love stuff like this.

danb said...

Wow.

The Louis Conrad Rosenberg etchings are sublime.

Mone said...

cleveland classic rock... I was about to close my eyes when I clicked on the link, then suddendly that dude appeared on the rigth corner. scared the shit out of me.

ps.I'm quite awake now! hahaha.

zen wizard said...

How come this was never on The Drew Carey Show?

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

The Alpine Village pic is familiar to me - it's in one of my parents' photo albums. It might be a menu.
BTW, you're going to one of my best friend's house next Wed for book club. I wish I could come! She loved H&E. Diane

Ms Baroque said...

by the way, I LOVE these.

Cappy said...

This guy was really something! He introduced my parents to each other. I wasn't around until much later.