I have a weak spot for corny roadside attractions, such as the scaled down lighthouse in front of The Gables restaurant in South Deerfield, Massachusetts, pictured here on a matchbook cover. The first time I saw it a while ago I wondered why it was there, and what the story was about the little commercial complex that appeared to be a bit down and out at that time.
And now I know – sort of. The lighthouse and its connected cottage were a gas station, while the main building was run as a roadside lunch spot when it began in business. Combination gas station/lunch rooms became commonplace in the 1920s and 1930s when more and more people began taking recreational drives through the countryside.
Exactly when the twin businesses were launched remains a question. My guess is the late 1920s, definitely by 1930, at which time they were operated by Charles M. Savage. He had long been a co-owner/manager of the Hotel Lathrop in South Deerfield, which was sold in 1928.
In 1931 a local builder completed a large building next door, south of The Gables. Oddly enough, it was intended as an indoor golf course, but instead was run as a dance hall by Dennis Shea, owner of the Shea Theater in Turners Falls, and later by a succession of others. Rudy Vallee and other nationally known acts performed there. In the 1950s it became a roller rink and then, in the 1970s, an auction house [pictured below as it looks now]. During its tenure as a dance hall and roller rink it was also known as The Gables, just like the restaurant (to confuse future researchers I’m sure!).
At the time the matchbook shown above was produced, The Gables restaurant was conducted by William Wade who also ran the Wade Inn on State Street in Northampton MA.
By 1936, The Gables restaurant had passed into the hands of Edward J. Chicky, also of Northampton. If the illustration in the advertisement from 1939 is accurate, the building had been extended on the left by then. It was now known as The Gables Food Shop, “food shop” being a popular name for a restaurant at the time.
After Chicky, it was owned by others, including Guido “Guy” Zanone, previously proprietor of the Bernardston Inn, who bought it in 1941 [see above], then Frank and Veronica Shlosser in 1946. The Shlossers built a new, larger restaurant across the street in 1955, advertising in 1956 that it had colonial atmosphere and facilities for 350. It was a popular place for wedding receptions, club lunches, and business organization meetings.
The Shlossers continued to run the new place shown above until the early 1970s, when it was sold. It stayed in business as a restaurant and banquet house through most of the 1980s, serving beef, seafood, and chicken parmesan, among other dishes. Today it serves as housing for faculty and staff at Deerfield Academy.
Recently the original Gables has gone on the market once again. I wish someone would reopen it as a 1940s film-noirish roadhouse.
Thanks to Historic Deerfield librarian David Bosse for helping to clear up an area of confusion in my research.
© Jan Whitaker, 2016
12 responses to “The Gables”
In early Fall of 1971, Bill Cosby’s “people” contacted my boss Mike Skibiski (of the Sunderland Gallery of Homes; the referral was through the office of Sylvio Conte of Springfield.) Bill was coming to the UMass Graduate School of Education, where I was a student, and had to have a place for him and his family to live! Mike felt the Schlosser property in Ashfield would be perfect! However, the Schlossers weren’t ready to sell, and Cosby went on to purchase a property in Shelburne, where the family lives today (except that Bill will be staying put in Pennsylvania it seems…..)
I also remember the antique store at the Lighthouse and it being a skating rink before that. How sad that it was demolished. Enjoyed this article about the old and the new Gables across the road.
Unfortunately, the old Gables Restaurant and famous tiny lighthouse have been leveled this fall. Next to the Volvo dealership is now a cleared lot waiting for the construction of a new business-a self storage facility. I was sad to see it go.
That is a shame.
Why wasn’t the fact that the Gables was purchased by Helen and Ed Petrovic, who turned it into a successful antique shop for many years mentioned?
I know this because I was married to their son Jim and we actually lived in the upstairs area which was an apartment. I’ve never known it to be a housing facility for Deerfield Academy.
Lighthouse Antiques has been closed for years now, and the building recently been sold. I drove by a couple weeks ago and it was being completely demolished, down to the ground…October 2017
No slight intended — since my blog is about the history of restaurants I was mainly focused on that, not on all the subsequent uses. Thanks for adding to the story!
I was born in the old Gables behind the lighthouse and then helped establish the new Gables across the highway until I inherited it in the seventies. I knew all the people involved in both places and most of the customers. Anyone who is interested in the background of this landmark can contact me. Jim Shlosser
My name is Ed Savage, grandson of Charles Savage one of the early owners. I would love to hear anything about the Gables, as I own a seafood restaurant in Va named The Gables at Crab Creek in his honor.
Hi Ed, my name is Christine Wisnieski, and I grew up on Hillside Road in South Deerfield. My parents, Bill and Mary Wisnieski, and many relatives were friends of the Schlossers and frequented the gables. Just curious where in Virginia you live since I also live in Virginia (BARBOURSVILLE, VA).
What do you know of the Pool that was in the back of the Gables?
I didn’t encounter that when I was researching the Gables.
Indeed, a place worthy of Ida Lupino! Thanks for the rundown. I’ve been curious about it for years but never stepped inside.