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End is near for iconic Anthony’s Hawthorne in downtown Lynn

The Anthony’s Hawthorne building is set for demolition after years of vacancy. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — Barrier fences erected around its perimeter and a demolition permit issued by the city Monday spell the end for Anthony’s Hawthorne, the long-shuttered former restaurant at the corner of Central Avenue and Oxford Street.

New Hampshire Demolition’s plan to take down the building calls for an excavating machine to attack the two-story brick structure from its Willow Street site, chewing away at the structure until it is a pile of rubble.

“They should start today or on Thursday. They are a good company with a lot of experience,” said Wig Zamore, spokesman for the Athanas family, owners of the building.

The Auburn, N.H., firm’s demolition plan calls for closing Central Avenue from Oxford Street to Cal’s News for a day to ensure safe demolition of the building wall facing Central. Oxford Street between Willow Street and Central Avenue will be closed a day for the same reason. 

Donovan said workers will demolish by hand a wall abutting the former Equitable Co-operative Bank building, 87 Oxford St. The building is now offices for First Indemnity Insurance Group. Donovan said Anthony’s location on busy downtown streets means the demolition company must take added precautions to get rid of dust and ensure pedestrian and traffic safety.

“We’re delighted to be moving forward. It’s been an important goal of the city. Hopefully, it clears the way for some progress downtown,” Zamore said.

The late Anthony Athanas bought the former Hawthorne Cafe in 1938 and launched a restaurant empire that stretched from Lynn to Boston to Cape Cod. The Athanas family still operates Hawthorne-by-the-Sea in Swampscott. 

Anthony’s Hawthorne closed in 2003 and sat vacant next to its 37,000 square foot Willow Street parking lot. City Inspectional Services Department chief and Building Commissioner Michael Donovan said the city issued an order for the building’s demolition in February and an Athanas family representative confirmed in June that the building would be demolished. 

Razing the building makes the Athanas property, especially with the parking lot’s square footage, “more marketable” said James M. Cowdell, Economic Development & Industrial Corporation (EDIC/Lynn) executive director. 

“Many people want to buy that property. They are real developers,” Cowdell said. 

Zamore said he has received “a couple of calls” from developers interested in the Hawthorne site and expects the site to draw attention from developers.

“Lynn has picked up as far as interest. There is clearly a new level,” he said.

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