44 Eagle Street: The Flatiron Building

Hayden Block: The Multipurpose Social Hub of North Adams

The Flatiron Building, 38-44 Eagle Street, also called the Hayden Block, was originally built as a singular floor unit in 1830. Later on, the building was given two additional floors in 1866; thus making it a three story structure, which was accessible by Eagle and Church Street. Subsequently, the building was modified by the addition of its northern tip. The addition removed two large bay windows on the northern facade, and created the tip of the building. Consequently, Hayden Block was officially given its flatiron shape. Overall, the building was done in a Italianate style, and made out of clapboard, a brick foundation, and given a heavy wood cornice flat roof.

Following the completion of the building, Hayden Block welcomed a handful of successful businesses during the late nineteenth century. One of the original establishments was the Elephant Boot and Shoe Store, which was headed by Francis Clark and James Mandeville during the 1890’s. The company, which operated out of 44 Eagle Street, was one of the area's first boot and shoe sale destinations, that specialized in shoe repair and shoe shining. Boland's, which was a retail store, circulated out of 38 Eagle Street. During this time, Hayden Block was under the ownership of Shepherd Thayer. Thayer was rather well known throughout the community due to his service as Justice of Peace for the town of North Adams.

Prior to World War I, Hayden Block was home to a wide variety of businesses. One of many establishments during this time period, Yon & Bissaillon, became a well-to-do furniture dealer and upholsterer. Yon and Bissaillon sold carpets, oilcloths, stoves, tinware, furniture, and many more home related goods. The Flatiron Building was slowly but surely becoming a place for businesses to prosper, and many entrepreneurs took note of this. One of those entrepreneurs was James Nagel. Nagel opened up one of the city’s first barber shops in the late 1890's--Nagel's Barber Shop--which operated out of 44 Eagle Street

Following the end of World War I, the Flatiron Building was regarded as a hub of North Adams. The building housed a Chinese Laundry out of 38 Eagle Street, which was owned by Sang Lee--a Chinese immigrant. Furthermore, Morris Sokolove ran a clothing, repair, and pressing shop out of 40 Eagle Streets doorfront. In addition to that, James Nagel's barber shop remained in business even after the financial troubles of World War I. Even though Hayden's Block housed numerous businesses after World War I, many of them eventually ended up vacant due to the Great Depression during the 1930's. It wouldn't be until the financial support of World War II, that the building would once again flourish.

The Baptist Church purchased the Flatiron Building in 1962. After acquiring the building, the local Baptist Church devised a restoration plan for the building. Of the businesses up for restoration, Torchy's Shoe Repair, which operated out of 44 Eagle Street, was included in the plans for renovation. Anthony J. Sacco, an elected commander of the Legion Post in North Adams, and a WWII veteran, took over Torchy’s Shoe Repair on April 1, 1965, changing the name to Tony’s Shoe Service. The business was rather profitable, and it remained in service for fifteen years.

From the 1970's to the 1990's, the Flatiron Building started to lose its luster. Many of the previous businesses ultimately closed up shop, or moved location; thus leaving many storefronts vacant. Nevertheless, during the 1970's, 38 Eagle Street became home to Sam Charlie’s Laundry for over fifteen years. In addition to that, Paul's Barber Shop, and Tony's Shoe Service circulated out of Hayden Block. In the 1980's, the buildings main use transitioned from retail to studio and gallery spaces. 40 Eagle Street saw the addition of DiLego's Deli, and Saint Cyr's Music Studio in 44 Eagle Street. By 1990, however, many of these businesses had moved or closed.

Presently, much of Hayden Block remains vacant, with many of the storefronts remaining as galleries. Nonetheless, the building has become an Airbnb hotspot. Even though today the Hayden Block is not the business hub it once was, the entirety of Eagle Street is expected to be revitalized, in the prospect of returning Eagle Street to its former glory. Hopefully the Flatiron Building will soon be filled with businesses and commerce yet again.



38-44 Eagle Street, North Adams, MA 01247