Englewood Diner becomes Red Line Diner

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Red Line Diner, now located in Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera
Formerly the Englewood Diner of Dorchester, Mass.

I have been a little remiss in posting anything throughout November as I was scanning a bunch of slides, 180 or so (to be sort of exact). They were all of the photos/slides I had ever shot of Rosie’s Diner when it was in Little Ferry, NJ. The bulk of the slides came from the last weekend of operation in January of 1990 and the preparation for moving the structure on the next weekend. I had promised my friend Arnie Corrado (son of former owner Ralph Corrado, Jr.) back then that I would give him copies of all the photos I had shot. This plan sort of became cost restrictive when I realized how many images there were. Well, with all the new digital technology at my disposal nowadays, I could finally keep my promise. So for almost 3 weeks, I spent the extra time I had scanning all the images. Better late than never! I actually turned it into a slide show movie which can be found on Youtube……… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2XlDiGzRM3I. I will eventually do a post about it here in the near future. Now on to the subject of this post……

A year ago Denise and I had made a trip (along with Beth Lennon and Cliff Hillis) up to Salisbury, Massachusetts to meet with Roger Elkus and Daryl McGann who had purchased the former Monarch Diner, originally of Dover, NH. The diner had not been in service since the early 1970s when it last operated in South Berwick, Maine. Dave Pritchard of Salisbury had started buying old diners a number of years ago and storing them at his truck/trailer company yard in Salisbury. The diners included the Miss Newport Diner of Newport, VT (now the Miss Mendon of Mendon, Mass.) the Englewood Diner last operated in Dorchester, Mass., and the Olympian Diner formerly of Braintree, Mass. as well as the Monarch. When we got into the yard I noticed the only diners left were the Monarch and the Olympian. I asked Roger and Daryl what happened to the Englewood and they told me that the owner of New Balance Footwear had purchased it and moved it to an undisclosed location.

Fast forward to October 25, 2013, when I received an email from Randy Garbin that had some attached photos from someone named Todd Purple. The message that accompanied the photos was short and sweet….. “Did you know about this”? I checked out the photos and low and behold, there was the former Englewood Diner looking to be completely restored on the exterior, sporting a new name….. Red Line! According to the email, it was located down behind 38 Everett Street in the Brighton section of Boston. Everett St. runs between Western Ave. in Allston and North Beacon St. in Brighton. The area was once primarily a mix of houses and somewhat run-down industrial buildings that has had a rebirth with parts of it being resurrected as an upscale office park. In fact a huge part of this rebirth can be directly attributed to New Balance Footwear as their Headquarters is located within a block of this property.

So, the 25th being a Friday, I decided to take a ride over to Brighton to check out this new location the very next day, where I managed to shoot some nice photos of it.

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Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

In looking closely at the exterior, the new steel panels seem to be painted instead of the porcelain enameled panels it originally had. Certainly a reasonable facsimile of the originals… and let me be clear, this was professionally done. Even the roof shingles look similar though not identical to what had previously been there, giving it a period look in keeping with the original style of the diner. The interior did not need much as the following photos show….

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Interior view of the Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Interior view of the Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Interior view of the Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Interior view of the Red Line Diner, Brighton, Mass.
October 26, 2013 photo by Larry Cultrera

Early on the next week I did some digging and was able to leave a message to a department in the corporate offices at New Balance Footwear. Within a couple of hours my wife Denise called to let me know there was a message from someone named Laurie at New Balance. When I returned her call, Laurie informed me that the restored diner is being used for corporate functions only and not open to the public (as I suspected).

As I mentioned above, the Englewood Diner operated for years in the Peabody Square neighborhood of Dorchester. It closed in 1979 when the land it was on was slated to be redeveloped, replaced by a high-rise building for senior housing. This was almost a year before I started photographing diners so I never was able to document it in that location. But luckily it was documented by others like David Hebb and Dick Gutman. Dick was kind enough to lend me this image (below) of the Englewood Diner when it was located across from Ashmont Station in Peabody Square, Dorchester…..

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Englewood Diner, 1970s vintage photo by Richard J.S. Gutman

So after it closed in 1979, the diner was moved to Pat’s Towing Company yard in the Cambridgeport neighborhood, just outside of Central Square in Cambridge. It stayed at that storage location through 1981.

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My first shot of the Englewood Diner taken from the roof of my 1979 Chevy van looking over the fence of Pat’s Towing Company in Cambridge.
1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

In fact, Dick and Kelly Gutman were the ones who showed me where it was being stored on one of our first “Diner Excursions” in 1981 where I obtained the photo above. It was relocated to the Cambridge/Somerville town line in a yard maintained by Wayside Leasing on Park Street just off Somerville Avenue, where it stayed until 1984.

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Englewood Diner at Wayside Leasing storage yard in Somerville
1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner at Wayside Leasing storage yard in Somerville
1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner at Wayside Leasing storage yard in Somerville
1982 photo by Larry Cultrera

In 1984, the diner was bought by Brian Burke, a general contractor from Dorchester. His plan was to repatriate the diner back to its longtime hometown. He had some property adjacent to the Bradlees department store that was on Morrissey Boulevard at the corner of Victory Road. Burke took his time in setting up the diner and finally opened it in 1986. It was operated by at least two if not three operators prior to closing in the early 1990s.

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Englewood Diner temporarily parked at Kendall Square in Cambridge
on the way back to Dorchester. 1984 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner temporarily parked at Kendall Square in Cambridge
on the way back to Dorchester. 1984 photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Englewood Diner newly arrived at Victory Road in Dorchester.
1984 photo by Larry Cultrera

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The Englewood Diner at its last operating location. It operated here from 1986 to 1992.
1984 photo by Larry Cultrera

In 1992, the Englewood was closed and sold at auction to Dennis “Skip” Scipione, owner of the Blue Moon Diner in Gardner. Skip had plans to reopen the diner and kept it in storage in neighboring Ashburnham, Mass. until the right time and place came about.  It looked like it would happen in 1997 when the diner moved to the northern part of Fitchburg. The next 3 photos show the diner at that proposed location….

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Englewood Diner at proposed location in Fitchburg.1997 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner at proposed location in Fitchburg.
1997 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner at proposed location in Fitchburg.
1997 photo by Larry Cultrera

This location in Fitchburg never actually came to fruition and the diner embarked on a series of moves to at least two if not three different storage locations over the next few years. In fact Skip finally sold the diner to Dan Johnston in the year 2000. Johnston purchased it for $20,000, moved the diner to the town of Holden.  Johnston’s plans for the diner were somewhat vague. In one instance he talked about reopening it and another was possibly attaching it to his house for private use. None of that ever happened and in fact, according to Randy Garbin of Roadside Online, Johnston even had the diner listed on Ebay for a short time.

While in Johnston’s possession, the diner ended up taking its longest round trip to be in a big budget Hollywood movie! Johnston was approached by Dreamworks Production Company in 2001. Dreamworks wanted to use the diner in a scene of the movie “Road to Perdition” starring Tom Hanks and Paul Newman. According to Garbin as quoted from his book Diners of New England, Dreamworks reportedly paid Johnston nearly $40,000 giving Johnston the first option to purchase it back after the scenes in the movie were completed.

The diner was transported to the Chicago area for the film and Johnston bought it back for less than half his original sale price. As Garbin noted the time-frame of the film was set in 1931 while purists would note that the diner is from 1941…… details, details!!!

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Publicity still showing the Englewood Diner during its star turn
from the Hollywood production of Road to Perdition.
photo courtesy of http://film-grab.com/tag/daniel-craig/

A few months after Johnston got the diner back he flipped it yet again to Matt Letellier of Eliot, Maine whose plan was to attach the diner to his on-site built Downeast Diner. The next 3 photos show the Englewood in Eliot, ME….

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Englewood Diner in Eliot, Maine. 2002 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner in Eliot, Maine. 2002 photo by Larry Cultrera

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Englewood Diner in Eliot, Maine. 2002 photo by Larry Cultrera

Unfortunately, Letellier’s plans never came to be and he turned around and sold the diner to Dave Pritchard in 2003. That is when the Englewood came to Salisbury where it stayed until 2012 and ultimately purchased by New Balance Footwear.

I will say that although this diner has had an interesting life in the last 35 years, it can also be said that it probably has the most mileage, being one of the most traveled diners in history! Now that it has found more than likely a permanent home in Brighton, as well as a new lease on life…. it is almost like an old racehorse being put out to pasture in its golden years!

Murphy’s Diner lives on!

This weekend marks the 29th anniversary of when I shot my first photo of a diner. I posted previously about this at the end of last month. In thinking back on these last 29 years and all the diners I have photographed (since that first shot of the Bypass Diner of Harrisburg, PA), some of my most intriguing shots have been of closed or abandoned diners (like the former Rosedale Diner, Daryl Hall & John Oates Abandoned Luncheonette in my header).

Possibly the first abandoned diner I ever documented was one I found in Haverhill, Mass. It was the summer of 1981 and if I remember correctly my brother Rick and I were driving north on state Rte. 97. I had passed thru downtown Haverhill and was just going over I-495 heading toward Methuen, Mass. and Salem, NH. Just over on the left past I-495 was an old farmhouse with some trees behind it. Peeking out from behind the trees was the side elevation facade of a stainless steel late 1940’s or early 1950’s diner.

Below, you can see the photos from my first visit to Murphy’s in Haverhill…..


Left side close-up. This is the side you could see from the road,
just a different angle. You can see where the roof of the kitchen
building was cut away in this view.
August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Front side view almost hidden by the trees.
August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Front right corner view.
August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera


Right rear view also showing where the roof of the kitchen was cut
away. August, 1981 photo by Larry Cultrera

I stopped to check it out and actually talked to some people who lived in the house. They were just renting the accomodations and told me their landlord owned the diner as well as the property. They did not know anything about the diner but gave me the name of the owner. I did some sluething and actually got a phone number for the owner.

I subsequently called him one day soon after to ask about the diner. He was somewhat reluctant to say much about it and was a tad suspicious of me and my motives. I finally convinced him that I was conducting a personal research project, documenting diners (he probably thought I was nuts). I told him when I saw a diner up on blocks in a yard behind a house, I felt compelled to find out where the diner came from.

He eventually told me that it was the former Murphy’s Diner of Cambridge, Mass. I later showed the photos to my diner buddy David Hebb and he showed me a book he had in his personal library published in 1977 by the Cambridge Historical Commission. The book was entitled  Survey of Architectural History of Cambridge, Northwest Cambridge and Survey Index written and researched primarily by Arthur Krim. (Arthur and I were to become friends and collegues in the Society for Commercial Archeology not too long after).

On page 149 of this book there was a photo and a short blurb about Murphy’s Diner. Here is what a partial scan of the page showed…

Following are a closer view of the photo and the info on the page…



In preparation for this post, Dick Gutman sent me info from his database about the diner with some interesting notes, among them a mention that the diner left Cambridge in 1968. I mentioned to Dick about the 1970 date from the book and he acknowledged that he wasn’t sure where that info he had came from. This had prompted me to contact Arthur Krim.

I spoke with Arthur today (November 29th) for some background and to confirm the date he had written (as to when the diner left Cambridge). He said by the time they were doing the research for the book in 1971 the diner was already gone. Luckily the photo of the diner was shot just prior to the move in anticipation of the research. He also mentioned city permits and other info that were obtained in the research that verified the facts.

 The diner remained in Haverhill until June of 1993 when (according to Richard Gutman’s notes) it was bought by Charles Gutzos (who contracted with Brian Payne) who moved the diner to Peabody, Mass. Gutzos had plans to restore and reuse the diner but these plans never came to fruition due to Gutzos’ passing away suddenly.


Murphy’s in storage just off Pulaski Street in Peabody, Mass.
June, 1994 photo by Larry Cultrera


Murphy’s in storage just off Pulaski Street in Peabody, Mass.
June, 1994 photo by Larry Cultrera


Interior of Murphy’s Diner when in Peabody, Mass.
June, 1994 photo by Larry Cultrera

The diner again stayed in storage for the next 2 years in Peabody when it was bought on March 3, 1995 by Pendragon a British Automobile Dealership located in the town of Derby, who specialized in  selling classic 1950’s American vehicles. The diner was placed on a container ship and sailed over to the United Kingdom on April 28, 1995 where it underwent a $200, 000 restoration and was put into service as The Motown Diner. The Motown Diner went out of business by 1997.


Exterior photo of the Motown Diner in Derby, England 
July, 1996 photo by Richard Gutman


Dick Gutman in front of the Motown Diner in Derby, England 
July, 1996 photo by Kellie Gutman


Interior photo of the Motown Diner in Derby, England 
July, 1996 photo by Richard Gutman

After the Motown Diner closed it remained in storage for quite a few years again. The next chapter of Murphy’s Diner starts up in 2004. Enter Jeff Laight and Trish Whitehouse of S. Derbyshire, England. They actually bought the diner through a listing on Ebay! They now operate it as the 50’s American Diner in Church Gresley, S. Derbyshire. I have been in contact with them for a couple of years and actually was able to clue them into a copy of the Cambridge Historical Commission’s book which they bought on Amazon.com. I emailed them recently for this post and here are their own words on how they found the diner….

We bought the diner off ebay after looking for a farm in Wales (strange I know but thats us for you), it was sitting behind an Aston Martin dealership in Derby and had been left to the elements and not in a good state at all. It had smaashed windows all the electrics when removed from its last site had just been ripped out of the ground. The roof was leaking, etc. and the list went on.


The 50’s American Diner photo courtesy of
Jeff Laight & Trish Whitehouse
 
When we had bought the diner we did not know how to move it as moving diners is not the norm in England. We contacted many companies specializing in moving large stuff by road, one company said they would take it to pieces and move it in vans!! After many quotes we eventually settled on Darren Wilson Lifting Solutions because of its location and weight the crane we had to use was a 200 ton crane made up of 2 parts and a specialist lorry from Heanor Haulage.
 
During its journey to Church Gresley they took a wrong turn and were then stuck in traffic calming but only knocked 1 post over! After she landed on site, a year of never ending jobs started. Going before the planning permisision was a nightmare! The local council treated the building as a new build even though it was 50 years old, they tried to get us to double glaze the windows!!


The 50’s American Diner photo courtesy of
Jeff Laight & Trish Whitehouse
 
During the rebuild we had to renew all electrics re do the exterior, IE: take all the panels off at which point we found that most of the panels had been replaced with fibreglass copies which was a great shame. We also added a new toilet and washing up building at the rear. This all sounds very simple but it really wasn’t. We opened 22nd August 2005 and we are still here so we must be doing something right!
 

The 50’s American Diner photo courtesy of
Jeff Laight & Trish Whitehouse 
 
During the last 4 1/2 years we have enjoyed our time as diner owners and looking forward to the next 4 1/2 years. Since opening the diner has been featured on BBC TV, ITV, Sky Radio and of course KHQ TV in the USA.
Last year we were named as 1 of the top 25 webcams of the world by Earthcam and top 10 in March 2008. We have tailoured the menu to English tastes whilst still keeping to the diner’s history where we could. We have a chap here that makes us rootbeer to an old recipe too.
 

The 50’s American Diner photo courtesy of
Jeff Laight & Trish Whitehouse

The 50’s American Diner photo courtesy of
Jeff Laight & Trish Whitehouse
 
This brings me to June of this year, I did my Power Point presentation called Local Roadside Memories at the Medford, Mass. Public Library for the Medford Historical Society. It was well received by the packed room of attendees. One of the people who attended was Maryellen McCarthy of Medford. She asked me after the show if I knew anything about Murphy’s Diner that used to be in Cambridge.
 
She mentioned that she and her friends who attended Matignon High School (a Catholic High School in North Cambridge) were regular customers in the mid-to-late 1950’s of the diner as it was located about 1 or 2 blocks away from the school. She also mentioned that she had an old menu from Murphy’s in her posession. I of course told her the diner still existed and that there was a link on my blog to their website.
 
Front and back of Murphy’s Diner menu
courtesy of Maryellen McCarthy
 


Inside pages of Murphy’s Diner menu
courtesy of Maryellen McCarthy

 
Fast forward to 2 weeks ago when I received a phone call from Maryellen. She was excited to tell me about something she organized. After She told me her news I asked her to email me all the details so I could post it in Diner Hotline! This is what she wrote…. 
 
After I attended your lecture at the Medford Public Library (Local Roadside Memories) and learned that the Murphy’s Diner in North Cambridge (where I went for French fries and a Coke after school with Matignon classmates) had been moved to the UK you gave me an idea – why not celebrate our 70th birthdays together in a booth in the original Murphy’s Diner in Swadlincote, Derbyshire UK?  The diner has been fully restored and is operating as a diner/museum, a trbute to 1950s America according to their website. I emailed as many of my Class of 1957 classmates as I could find, made some phone calls, got in touch with the diner owners and so far have a group of twelve and likely more who will be traveling to the UK and visiting the diner on Monday, May 3rd 2010.

 Jeff and Trish, the owners, are just as excited; “over the moon” is the expression. I emailed a picture of an original Murphy’s menu that I still have and we have been exchanging emails since. They are arranging for the Friends of the American Diner Auto Club  to pick us up at the railway station in vintage American cars and I understand they have been in touch with the BBC to alert them about this “human interest” story.

 Thank you Larry, you have started what I know is going to be a really fun event for us and for the diner people. They told me they never thought they would ever meet anyone who had actually sat in a booth in their diner. They have named a dish they serve “The 2525 Massachusetts Avenue” for the original address in North Cambridge and pictures of the Matignon Class of ’57 cheerleaders and football team now hang on their wall.

I am flattered that I got to play a small role in this little adventure that Maryellen and her friends are going to embark on next spring.