The work of demolishing the Tivoli building on the Oak Bluffs waterfront began on Saturday, and barring adverse weather conditions, the job should be nearly done this weekend.
White Brothers Inc., Edgartown, are the contractors razing the building and clearing the lot for the town. The property was purchased some months ago by the town as the site for a new town building, containing offices, an assembly room and quarters for some fire apparatus on the ground floor.
The Tivoli, first called the Tivoli Casino, was built in 1907, with stores on the ground floor and a dance hall and offices on the second. At the time, it was said to have the largest dance floor on the Atlantic Coast.
Famous for decades, largely through the efforts of its one-time proprietor, the late Will Hardy, musician and composer, the Tivoli with its towers, balconies and flags became a landmark. The older inhabitants of Oak Bluffs, both seasonal and year round, recall those days of the Tivoli’s prime and a nostalgic affection for both the building and Mr. Hardy. They speak of his most popular composition, Tivoli Girl, the echoes of which rang long and lingering beneath the high-vaulted roof when danced the grandmothers of today, in the schittische or to the strains of the Vienna Woods.
For years after the dark days befell this structure, one proprietor of a first-floor establishment did much to keep some of the old traditions alive. Harry Gorge, proprietor of the Waterfront Ice Cream Parlor, continued to serve his hot and thirsty patrons until recent years.
“Thus passes the glories of the world,” and the Tivoli is on the brink of that abyss which swallows all things in forgetfulness, even as those things which came before have been swallowed.
Almost no one remembers today what stood on this spot before the Tivoli was built. Actually there were several structures, booths of sorts, some of them kiosk-shaped, where summer visitors could purchase souvenirs and refreshments, some of them the forerunners of the gift shop of today. Moved off the lot when the Tivoli was built, at least two of them are still standing in other parts of the town, one of them near the Flying Horses, still carrying a stock of merchandise calculated to attract the summer crowd.