Foundation: Raleigh Bar Will Open On Fayetteville Street

Foundation: Raleigh Bar Will Open On Fayetteville Street

Downtown and Underground

September, 26, 2008, by Mark, Jedidiah

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entrance detail

Local design/build contractor Will Alphin and local architect Vincent Whitehurst are bringing a new bar to downtown Raleigh on Fayetteville Street: Foundation. Design began for the space close to two and half years ago. Believe us when we tell you: it doesn’t get much more quality than this.

Both Whitehurst and Alphin have reputations for delivering with integrity. That’s why building owner Jean Pauwels hired them to renovate his building at 213 Fayetteville Street. He is the representative for the entire US for PyroLave, a French company specializing in quarried lava rock, which is then glazed and sold as a variety of architectural products. The second floor of the building will contain gallery/showroom space for PyroLave, and clients will fly in from all over the world to consult with Pauwels at his new space in Raleigh.

“The building should be good to go for about the next hundred years,” Alphin commented on the modifications he and his crew have made to 213 Fayetteville. Alphin’s construction process for the building is fascinating. Conceptually, the building has been sort of petrified from the top down; individual parts, pieces and components of the structural and enclosure systems have been tweaked, reinforced or replaced. Much of the material removed during demolition was salvaged and repositioned elsewhere. The height of the building was raised several feet and a new roof structure and membrane were installed. This is evident the top floor tenant space, which is under contract negotiation with a theatre company, where new masonry laid above the exposed 1915 brick supports new steel joists and roof decking. All throughout the building, structural modifications have been made to the floors, ceilings and walls.

tenant space under negotiation

The basement, which will be home to Foundation, was simply crawlspace before Alphin and Whitehust got a hold of it. The duo’s idea to start the bar came from a desire to act as their own client: “It allowed us a level of freedom in terms of design and scheduling that’s extremely difficult to obtain otherwise,” Whitehurst said of the project. The entire lower level had to be excavated by hand. Charlie Myer, with Alphin Design/Build, commented on the excavation effort, “Obviously you can’t drive a backhoe underneath a historic building on Fayetteville Street.”

door to unexcavated portion

Foundation’s philosophy is grounded in local craft, quite a complementary concept to PyroLave, whose international scope of business results in clients and projects that spread all over the World. What’s not so different about these two businesses is the quality nature of the product. Foundation will serve beer brewed only in North Carolina. Sorry folks, no $2 PBR here. A regional selection of wine will be served as well as liquors distilled domestically. Fixed tables in the main space will be constructed from an old boiler that was removed from the building, reinforcing some of the project’s recurring principles geared towards sustainability: local, reused and crafted to last.

The business will undoubtedly have naysayers who claim that a cheap staple will be necessary to sustain a profit, but Whitehurst and Alphin are aiming to create a level of integrity akin to that of their own work—work that is in constant demand. There are many fine dining restaurants with rotating menus of locally available selections that do quite well—so why not a bar?

Considering the careful time and effort put into this establishment, and its location next to the Mint down the street from the new Convention Center, this bar might have all the ingredients to be a thriving local business. Look for Foundation to open up for business sometime in the Spring of 2009.

building front

Tenants of 213 Fayetteville, according to city directories

1896 storage, hardware, and tin shop, name unknown
1903 W.C. Stronach’s Sons Company, grocers
1915 The Almo, theatre
1927 The Vogue, men’s clothes
1953 The Vogue of Raleigh, (same)
1977 Holly’s Hallmark

courtesty of the Raleigh City Museum

The Almo Theater, image courtesy of the Raleigh City Museum

The Vogue, image courtesy of the Raleigh City Museum

The two-story building has a remodeled facade that includes a plate-glass storefront with plywood at the transom and stucco covering the original second story materials. Three window openings hold plate glass that likely replaced double-hung wood sash windows. Stucco-clad beltcourses bring horizontal detail to the facade at the mid-point of the height of the windows and above the windows and below the plain cornice. Another beltcourse merges with the window lintels, creating a continuous line across the top of the windows; a similar treatment merges the sills.

The Almo was built as a movie theater in 1915; in 1917, there were three movie houses in Raleigh, including the Superba at 222 Fayetteville Street and the Palm at 130 East Martin Street. The two Fayetteville Street theaters catered to whites and the Palm to African Americans. The Almo continued showing movies until 1925, when it became the Vogue, a clothing store. The Vogue remained in business at least through the early 1960s, and its owners remodeled the building in 1943. This is likely when the second-story windows were installed. The late-twentieth-century remodeling obscured whatever other details may have been incorporated originally or in 1943. The building most recently housed a Hallmark card shop; it was vacant prior to the currently ongoing renovation.

entrance stair

during excavation, photo courtesy of Vincent Whitehurst

facade prior to construction, photo courtesy of Vincent Whitehurst

See the Foundation {categories show="257|236|256|96" show_group="9" limit="1"}{category_name}{/categories} page.

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  • revolu
    09/26 05:54 PM

    absolute sweetness.  looking forward to seeing this place and enjoying the brews.  it will no doubt do well here in raleigh.  places like this (in bar concept, not architecturally) are in asheville, nc and thrive on local support.  i have a feeling raleigh locals will help this thrive as well.

  • carol vargo
    09/26 08:08 PM

    looks cool as shit!!

  • Glenn May
    09/26 08:57 PM

    WOW! that space looks great. Can’t wait for the Grand opening!


  • Lil baby Jeebus
    09/26 09:21 PM

    This place is going to fucking rock.

  • brian_M
    09/26 09:43 PM

    Now THIS I can see people getting behind. Pretty awesome.

  • ChiefJoJo
    09/27 05:47 PM

    I love basement bars!  This will be one of my night spots for sure.

  • Victor
    09/27 10:06 PM

    This is going to rule. Such an inspiration for what downtown could and should be. Big thanks to Will and Vincent. I want to be there to buy the first beer!

  • CJT
    09/27 10:53 PM

    I’m exceedingly excited about this.


  • Ol Buzzard
    09/27 10:58 PM

    —save me a spot next to Carol & Li’l Baby.

  • alain
    09/28 02:32 AM

    Great, I am drooling already :)

  • kg
    09/29 01:41 PM

    seems like a nice alternative to raleigh times.

  • Raleigh Boy
    09/29 08:36 PM

    Great article and photos New Raleigh! The Foundation will be a unique addition to the downtown bar scene. I’ve always thought Raleigh’s subterranean enclaves were woefully underutilized!

    Anyway, I’d like to offer a slight correction to the history narrative above. The building at 215 Fayetteville St., housing the Almo Theater (ca 1914-1925) and later the Wake Theater (ca 1930-1960) was demolished in 1985 when the Raleigh Savings and Loan Building (i.e. the “Mint”) replaced both it and the bank’s previous 1923 building on the same site.

    The Foundation building (213 Fayetteville St.)had always been a store of some sort throughout its history. I went down there yesterday to have a look-see, and judging from that marvelous granite foundation, I’m guessing the building itself probably dates from the mid-19th century. The Vogue men’s shop occupied it from ca 1927 well into the 1960s. It was always a two story structure, originally similar in appearance to 207 Fayetteville St., a couple doors up.

    I wondered where that third floor came from!

  • Ryan
    09/30 08:40 PM

    Love the photos!  They make me even more excited about this place.  Has anyone heard if it is going to be non-smoking?  Please say it is…

  • ladye jane
    09/30 09:59 PM

    According to old city directories, 213 Fayetteville was the Almo, and 215 was the Wake. Did the building numbering system change at some point that you know of, Raleigh Boy?

  • Raleigh Boy
    10/01 03:39 PM

    City directories are a useful resource for determining what occupied a particular structure at a particular time. One caveat, though; they are notorious for mispellings and jumbling addresses. Also, street address assignments would sometimes change over the years, which can lead to confusion.

    My directories list 213 as vacant and 215 as The Almo in 1915; 1927: 213 The Vogue, 215, no listing, as presumably the Almo was out of business then and construction of the new Wake Theater was probably underway; 1934: 213 The Vogue, 215 Wake Theater; 1942: 213 The Vogue, 215 Wake Theater; 1952: 213 The Vogue, 215 Wake Theater. The Wake finally closed around 1960 and the Vogue lasted well into the ‘60s.

    For optimum accuracy and verification, I use the Sanborn Insurance maps. The earliest Raleigh Sanborn map, 1888, showing that block indicates that a two-story brick building with the footprint of 213 occupied that spot from then through 1950, when the last Raleigh Sanborn map was published. Next door, 215, is labeled “motion pictures” from 1909 through 1950. Next door to that at 219 is the Raleigh Building and Loan (aka the Fisher) building, shown about 1918 in the picture above.

    For absolute proof of a building’s existence I use historic photographs. I have linked one here that shows the 200 block in 1945. From left to right: the Haywood Building at 203-205; Royster’s Candy mfg at 207; the Charles department store at 209-211; The Vogue at 213; the Wake Theater at 215; and the Raleigh Building and Loan on the corner.
    The 200 Block of Fayetteville Street 1945

    A Jan 8. 1986 N&O article about the construction of what is now the Mint carries a photo that shows the steel framework going up with 213 (by then Holly’s Hallmark) next door. Ther’s no 215 in sight, as it had been demolished!

    Thanks for replying to my comment Ladye Jane>> glad I was able to provide the info!

  • Jedidiah
    10/01 04:07 PM


    It will be non-smoking inside, but at the tables outside on the sidewalk folks can smoke.

  • Deb
    10/01 05:00 PM

    Non-smoking, eh? It’s already our new favorite bar! We love Landmark, but even with all their fancy air-sucking devices, the smoke can still be annoying and irritating.

    I can’t wait for Foundation to open. I think being non-smoking will insure that this place has a very loyal following, in addition to the general awesome location and unique format.

  • dawn constance leonard
    10/01 05:49 PM

    Foundation Foundation Foundation, it looks and sounds solid! I plan to support this soon to be established foundation. Cheers!!

  • ladye jane
    10/01 08:28 PM

    In my experience, city directories had always proved as an accurate resource, so thanks for pointing out that they might not always be so!

  • Patrick
    10/02 01:56 AM

    Any food on the menu?

  • MikeB
    10/08 12:26 PM

    Does this mean TJ McPickleshitter’s isn’t coming downtown?

  • Sean
    02/24 04:31 PM

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe this is the first Triangle-area bar to exclusively serve North Carolina beer. Rock!

  • Micah
    02/24 04:53 PM

    This article makes it seem like they actually raised a masonry building up 4 or 5 feet, quite an engineering feat.  Looking at the photos, it seems that they probably raised the floors/ceilings inside the space up 4 or 5 feet and then added the same amount to the walls at the top to raise the roof and keep the roof deck high enough above the upper floor.

  • packpigskinfan25
    02/25 12:32 AM

    WOW! This place looks amazing. I can not wait!

    keep the updates coming NR!!

  • Jerimee
    03/10 08:45 PM

    The Wake Young Democrats are at Foundations tonight (3/10). Please stop by and meet/connect with young progressives.

  • Jones
    03/12 09:12 PM

    Thanks Raleigh Boy, I was about to correct the historical mistake. I compare pictures to Sanborn maps in the absence of actual deeds.

  • Andrew B
    03/29 01:05 AM

    Great-looking list of cocktails on the menu.  I tried the Aviator triple tonight, and my wife had the mead; both were fantastic.  What a great little bar!

  • sherry
    07/07 11:55 PM

    this is the correct link for Will Alphin’s design

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