PHOTOS: City turns 125 with a party at the Arcade Building

October 10, 2011

Arcade Building September 2011. Photo courtesy Bill Jenne

The Arcade Building shortly before the City of Hyattsville’s 125th Anniversary Party on September 23, 2011. Photos courtesy William Jenne.

BY SUSIE CURRIE — City staff transformed the Arcade Building from a construction zone into what one guest called “a fairyland” for Hyattsville’s 125th Anniversary Party on September 23.

About 120 guests made their way around extension cords and orange cones into 4318 Gallatin Street, a two-story structure nearly as old as the city. Traces of its history were apparent in the exposed brick walls; one is all that remains of the original structure, Pinckney Memorial Episcopal Church. Over the years, it has housed a silent-movie theater, bowling lanes and restaurants, among other things.

Now, the Hyattsville Community Development Corporation is managing the building’s renovation into an anchor of the Gateway Arts District. For one night, though, it served as a gateway between past and future.

The first floor had been adorned with tulle, balloons and a display from city archives. In the cavernous main room, groups gathered at round tables, mingled at the long buffet table, and listened to remarks from several elected officials, including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker and Del. Anne Healey.

Healey, a longtime resident, served on the Hyattsville City Council before being elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1991. Most of the current councilmembers were also in attendance. In addition, a representative from Congressman Steny Hoyer’s office presented  Mayor Marc Tartaro with a framed page from the Congressional Record marking the anniversary.

Later, CDC Executive Director Stuart Eisenberg gave a brief history of the building. For Tartaro, it has a pivotal role in the city’s revitalization.

“We have to get the Arcade Building finished,” said Tartaro. “It will be a huge asset to have the finished community space for performances and meetings, as well as the ability to televise them.”

Farrell McGlynn Architects is scheduled to present three design alternatives to the Hyattsville City Council later this month. All are expected to incorporate such uses as a performing-arts space, a cable TV recording studio, community meeting rooms, staff training facilities, Anacostia Trails Heritage Area offices and the Heritage Tourism Visitors Center.