Two of Hampden's best known buildings sold to investors

The old G.C. Murphy five-and-dime store on The Avenue in Hampden and the old Ideal Theatre next door have been sold to investors. The previous owners, Elissa and Alfred Strati, are retiring.
The old G.C. Murphy five-and-dime store on The Avenue in Hampden and the old Ideal Theatre next door have been sold to investors. The previous owners, Elissa and Alfred Strati, are retiring.(File photo/2003)

Investors have purchased two local landmarks on The Avenue in Hampden — the old Ideal Theatre and the old G.C. Murphy five-and-dime store.

The adjacent buildings are located in the 900 block of West 36th Street. The old five-and-dime currently houses Avenue Antiques and the former theater was most recently an extension of the antiques mall.


Elissa Strati, former co-owner of the buildings and of Avenue Antiques, said she and her husband, Alfred, are retiring and sold the buildings May 29 to Avenue & Elm LLC. She would not disclose the selling price.

Strati that the two properties together comprise the biggest single commercial footprint on The Avenue.


Avenue Antiques, an umbrella for as many as 60 small antique dealers, will close in August, and many of the dealers have found new locations, Strati said. The Ideal building is already closed, she said.

Barry Weiskopf, an attorney who represents Aveue & Elm LLC, said he would pass on a request for an interview. Strati reached out to the company on the Messenger's behalf and said officials told her they did not want to comment at this time.

The buyers are "pursuing their options on tenanting the buildings (and) have expressed a desire to add to and become part of the eclectic Hampden mix of stores, services and restaurants ..." Strati said.

She said negotiations began when the investors asked her in a "cold call" in February if she would be interested in selling the buildings.

"They were looking for something in Hampden," she said.

The Stratis have owned the five-and-dime building, 901 W. 36th St., for about 11 years, and bought the Ideal, 903-905 W. 36th St., in 2005. Both buildings underwent extensive renovations, Strati said. Woodward's auction house formerly leased the old Ideal for a time, but moved to Station North about 18 months ago, she said.

The Stratis are also former owners of Falls Road Antiques at 4027 and 4029 Falls Road. They spent about three years and $160,000 rehabbing the Falls Road property, but sold it so they could buy the old Murphy building, Strati said in 2003.

Another Strati property,  a house in Roland Park that used to be home to the Oddyssey School and the Lab School of Baltimore, also is being sold. The property, 4906 Roland Ave., went on the market in 2007 for $1.8 million after being converted back to a house, but was rented instead. It is now going back on the market for $899,000, she said.

The three-story, cedar-shingled, Italiante house has five bedrooms, nine full- or half- bathrooms, a 3,000-square-foot basement and a four-car garage. Built in 1906, it was a single-family dwelling, known as "Miss Swindell's house," unil the 1940s, when it began its second life as a private school, first Homewood School, then the School for Contemporary Education, the Odyssey School and the Lab School.

The Ideal Theatre in Hampden opened in 1908 as a nickelodeon and closed in 1963. It was leased to the Salvation Army for about 30 years before the Stratis purchased it and rehabbed it. They leased it to Woodward's, an antiques gallery and auction theater, which moved out in March.

The facade of the Murphy building dates to the late 1800s. The old building underwent a major renovation in the 1960s and a minor one when it was converted to a dollar store in 2001.

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