As we continue our tour of doomed Coney Island, The Henderson's Dance Hall Building is another one owned by Thor and slated for destruction. The current building replaced the original Henderson's vaudeville house soon after it burned in 1899.
Blighted but not totally defunct, the building still holds restaurants, novelty shops, and games like this long-lived Basket Ball Game on the side, directly across from Nathan's.
It was at the Henderson, writes Michael Immerso in Coney Island, that "Harpo Marx first teamed up with his brothers Groucho and Gummo...in 1907." According to Charles Denson's Coney Island, it later "housed the Melody Bar, the World in Wax, and the Surf Hotel."
The World in Wax Musee, opened in 1926 by Lillie Santangelo, ran for decades and featured wax figures of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.--among other, more gory scenes, like the first woman executed in the electric chair. As late as 1981, Santangelo was still on hand at her dime museum for a "Tricks and Treats" special show that Dick Zigun recalls helped him to launch the Coney Island Sideshows.
See "World in Wax" right here.
Somewhere, there is a film by Tom Palazzolo called "Lilly's World of Wax," in which Santangelo "leads the camera on a tour of the museum with the lights and wires being dragged along before the eyes of the audience. The woman insists on looking into the camera as she delivers her absurd and touching stories about the figures."
It has always been the Surf Hotel's neon sign that draws my attention to this building. Shuttered by Thor, it was a fleabag joint, maybe an SRO, but I can't find out much about it--even though it was there, in the signage, as far back as 1926, above a chop suey dine-and-dance. Something must have happened at the Surf in all its years at Coney.
If you know anything more, please let us know. It, too, will be gone once Bloomberg's sickening plan goes through.