NORTHPORT — A Northport landmark was reduced to rubble Monday as neighbors in the small village took pictures, told stories and cheered when the excavator clawed through its nearly 100-year-old walls.
The building on South Waukazoo Street has been home to several businesses since the early 1900s, when it was built — most recently as the home of the short-lived Soggy Dollar.
The building shares a wall with Waukazoo Tees, which remained intact after careful work by Team Elmers, hired to do the demolition.
"It's sad to see the building go," said Diana Hopkins, who works at the t-shirt store. "It's a historical building."
Stubb's and later, Stubb's Sweetwater Grill and the Sail Inn were mainstays of the Northport scene, such as it was, for many years. But before that, the building housed the dark and dingy Ranger's Recreation, commonly known as Stubb's Pool Hall, and the Marine Bar.
"It was a real crude place ... I was in there a lot," said Northport historian Dick Hanson, who is 88.
Owner Oren "Stubb" Ranger had a pronounced limp and wore thick glasses as he was nearly blind. Only men were allowed into Stubb's, where they would play billiards, pool, euchre and cribbage. There were also brass spittoons under each table.
"There were no women allowed in the pool hall at all and they had spittoons everywhere," said Laura Cavendish, who with her husband Thomas Cavendish owns Lord and Lady Construction, the company that will build a small bar on the site.
It was said that patrons sailed into the Marine Bar and stumbled out.
The building was owned in the 1970s by Dale Brown, who sold it several times on a land contract, but kept getting it back.
Jeanette Egeler was a frequent flyer back in those days.
"The bathrooms were terrible in there," said Egeler, owner of Northport Fitness and manager of the Northport Inn. "The one stall — the women's — you could barely get in it. You had to turn sideways and squeeze ... We have fond memories of those bathrooms."
It was the place where the popular local band Newt and the Salamanders had its first gig. The band went on to play all over the Midwest in the 1970s and eventually returned to Northport to play in the Leelanau UnCaged festival, setting up on an outdoor stage right in front of the former bar and eatery.
Amelia Earhart is also rumored to have been there, though that seems implausible as she disappeared in 1937.
Bruce Viger owned the building from 1989 until '94, when it was called Stubb's. It later became Stubb's Sweetwater Grill and was run by Darren and Meghan Hawley.
Viger now owns the Garage Bar & Grill across the street and said it was sad to see the building left to become what it was.
"It was sad for the last few years," he said. "Today is not a sad day."
Jakob Hester agrees with that philosophy.
"It's just been abandoned for too long," Hester said. "Something new needs to go there. It will be exciting to see what they do with it afterward."
Lord and Lady Construction has partnered with the building's latest owners Ken and Kelley Radeke of Illinois, who bought it in 2012. The Radekes renamed it the Soggy Dollar, which may have been prophetic as it closed just two years later when they could not make a go of it.
The Radekes tried to sell it, but had no takers. They then decided to renovate and contacted the Cavendishes, as Thomas is a master mason from England.
"We went inside and it was obvious there were a lot of issues," Laura Cavendish said.
Chief among them was mold, but there was also other structural issues, including a roof that recently caved in after heavy rains.
Plans are to build a small permanent structure with bathrooms and a bar, with outdoor seating, an inflatable movie screen and food truck on site.
Cavendish said they pulled some of the original timbers — trees with the bark chopped off — out of the basement, and plan to save a cast iron furnace that she'll turn into a fireplace complete with salvaged bricks.
"It's kind of sad to see something that's a part of history going down," Kelley Radeke said. "But it had to be done. It was a mess."