This structure located at 195 Grant Street has come a long way since the days of Somali Star and Cuchafrito Hut. Back in October I wrote about the little building, detailing the teamwork between owner-architect Kathleen Kinan and restaurateur Fred Daniel to create a barbecue joint called Freddie J’s “The Hut”. At that time, exterior work on the hut was underway, but was still far from finished. Today Kinan’s romantic vision for the hut has been fulfilled. She has taken what was once a fairly drab, and unremarkable facade and transformed it into a whimsical patchwork of building materials that have come together to form an eye-catching work of art. The small building now stands larger than life on Grant Street.
When looking at the lead image, it may be hard to look past the colorful facade-work in the foreground, but if you direct your eyes past the hut you will see another sight for sore eyes. You might recall that back in December I met up with Kinan in order to tour the house next door, located at 197 Grant Street (see here). At the time, she was busy wrapping up the final details of the renovation, in order to host a public open house. Work was also underway to outfit the property with geothermal and solar units. While you can’t see the geothermal installation work in the photo, you can see the significant solar panel system on top of the house. “The systems are from Solar Liberty,” Kinan told me. “They are powering the heat pump (thus the heating system). I bought them on a lease agreement from Solar Liberty – they’ve been great to work with so far – very professional.”
The combination of playful architectural elements and environmentally friendly installations is both unexpected and refreshing to see on Grant Street. The close proximity to each other adds to the collective effect of the investments, and paints an entirely different picture of the future of Grant Street and the West Side. Hopefully these types of projects will inspire others to rethink the different directions that can be taken when it comes to rebuilding our commercial districts – without sacrificing our history in the process.