I’m drawn to aspects of what feel like Church Hill pre-history: the Marshall Street Viaduct, the trolley, the independent town Fairmount, old Fulton, the Central Lunatic Asylum… All of the back-in-day details that help answer the question of what was here before? or before before before…?
One of the names that calls out for some digging into is The Rendezvous, a longtime restaurant located where The Hill Cafe is now. Local realtor/historian/renovator of houses Bill Hartsock recently scored this match cover from the 1930s and has a little history of the place:
I can’t give you hard facts, but I do know that The Rendevous operated as a restaurant from the 1920s to the 1950s.
After white flight started after WWII the place changed to what used to be known as a “nip joint”. By the 1980’s it was called a “shot house”, with boarded up windows and just a small slot in the front door so the owners could see who was at the door. You could spend a dollar and get a shot of moonshine or other shady liquor!
When I bought, and moved in to 2700 E. Broad St. in 1987 the Hill Cafe had already been created.
The phone in the apartment on the second floor of 2700 (there were four apartments in there at the time) was on a party line with the Hill Cafe, which was probably left over from the Rendevous. Possibly, the proprietor of The Rendevous lived there at the time and answered the phone at both places. Every time the phone rang at the Hill Cafe I got the call, too. Some nights it was hard to sleep!