So much for the eternal promise of the Internet. We ran into a real-life analog of this recently when one of our staff members stopped at 30 Preble Street to visit (yes, visit) the luscious red leather doors of the former Morocco Lounge, where Frank Sinatra once sang in downtown Portland. [See “Near East, Downeast,” September 2013.] She wanted to re-experience the frisson of uncovering these doors of the long-lost night club in the first place, a hidden landmark that meant so much to a generation of Portlanders. Instead, she was astonished to find the doors gone.
So soon, just months after our story–after having barely been reconnected with their value and context? Were they stolen, perhaps by some hipster redecorating his or her rec room? Is one person’s rescue another person’s plunder?
All cultural artifacts stare Error: 404 in the kisser every day. Because it is our solemn oath to document everything that’s missing in Maine the moment it disappears, we made some phone calls to try and catch these swinging doors before they slipped away forever, and we learned the following from one of our operatives: “I just talked with Kevin Hammond at Port Property Management. He took the doors out soon after reading our story (Russ at Port Property had it laminated, and it’s hanging in their office). Kevin is cleaning them and conditioning the leather. He says they’re in rough shape and need lots of work. He isn’t putting too much into them but fixing them the best he can. He’s going to put a frame around them and is looking for push plates to match what used to be there. Once they’re restored, he’s going to bring them back to the office as a decoration, with the laminated article next to them.”
Oh, and he’s seen the reverse side of the doors after taking them out, unavailable to us before: “He says on the other side of the doors, in the same brass push pins as the Morocco Lounge lettering, is a large Moroccan sword on one door and on the other door a star and moon [see photos lower right].” A deeper reveal: “He loves Sinatra and had to have them…”