WORCESTER — An arrangement has been made to preserve the iconic neon sign above the former Weintraub’s Jewish Delicatessen on Water Street and move it to the Wachusett Brewing Co.’s Brew Yard at the new Worcester Public Market at Kelley Square.
With that agreement having been reached, the Historical Commission on Thursday night unanimously approved a demolition delay waiver that will enable the building’s new owner to remove the sign and proceed with further renovations to it.
Weintraub’s, a 99-year-old Water Street landmark and Worcester’s last remaining Jewish deli, closed in April 2019.
Jean-Luc Wittner, who plans to open Suzette Creperie & Cafe at the 126 Water St. location, told the Historical Commission in February that he and his landlord, Edward Murphy, are very respectful of history and preservation and want to make sure the Weintraub’s sign lives on.
In February, the Historical Commission granted a waiver to the city’s demolition delay ordinance to Wittner could proceed with work to remove the building’s existing facade and replace it with a new designed one.
As part of that vote, the commission also asked Wittner to come back with a plan regarding the sign’s future. Commissioners said they wanted to see an effort made to preserve the sign and find a new home for it.
Michelle Johnstone, the city’s preservation planner, informed the Historical Commission Thursday night that a proposal has been made to move the Weintraub’s neon sign to the Brew Yard.
The market is located less than a block from where Weintraub’s used to be, in the Canal District.
She said if there comes a time when the sign will no longer be at the brewery, then it will revert to Murphy’s ownership as the building’s owner. She said if that happens Murphy has proposed then donating the sign to the Worcester Historical Museum.
The proposal was wholeheartedly supported by commission members.
“I think that’s an acceptable proposal,” said Commission Chairman Mark Wamback.
The property at 126 Water St., which was built in 1910, is subject to the city’s demolition delay ordinance because it is listed on the Massachusetts Cultural Resources System and it is located in the Blackstone Canal National Register Historic District.
The demolition delay ordinance puts an automatic one-year hold on the razing of historic structures or proposed significant changes to the exterior of those buildings. A waiver to the delay can be sought but a petition must be filed with the Historical Commission and the case made that the plans will not be detrimental to the historical or architectural resources of the city.
At least three parties were said to be interested in the sign, one of them being the Worcester Historical Museum.
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