PAWTUCKET — Many of its Pullman car windows are broken or missing and its stainless steel has lost its luster, but Jonathan Savage was still pleased as punch Tuesday afternoon when the antique diner he recently acquired was delivered to his mill complex at 560 Mineral Spring Avenue.
Savage, an attorney with the Pawtucket-based Shectman Halperin Savage, is a history buff, and he is excited to have ownership of an original Worcester Lunch Car Streamliner Diner. He said it is one of 25 such diners originally made by the Worcester Lunch Car Company and one of just eight that are left. Many of the surviving models are listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Savage added that two of the antique train-style diners produced by the Worcester Lunch Car Company are in museums, and one of these, Lamy's Diner built in 1946, is on permanent display at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.
“Worcester Lunch Car made beautiful diners,” said Savage. “And these Streamliner Diners epitomized the high point in diner construction. They combined the best of all of the diner designs from the 1930s and were built to look like Pullman cars,” he said.
Savage intends to have the diner, built in 1941, restored to its former glory, a process that he expects to take about a year. Once the renovations are completed, he plans to open the diner on the mill property, serving breakfast and lunch to workers and neighborhood residents. He added that he intends to submit the necessary applications to the city's zoning board “sooner rather than later” to hopefully avoid any potential delays with the diner's operation.
“We plan to make the diner 'period-correct',” Savage stated. “Our hope is to restore it to look like it did when it left the factory in 1941.” The eatery will be named the “Miss Lorraine Diner” after the mill complex, which is known as Lorraine Mill at 560 Mineral Spring Avenue.
Covered with tarps, the diner was carefully brought by flatbed truck from Middletown, Connecticut. It had been a fixture in Middletown for 30 years as Squeak's Diner, but had sat dormant for the past decade.
Savage said he found the diner after a national search. He had been specifically looking for one of that model, which he described as “late Post-War.” He said this style of diner, found throughout New England, was produced before the later versions which are typically found in the New York and New Jersey area.
Savage said the tenants of the mill complex at 560 Mineral Spring Ave., which includes working artists, manufacturers and other small businesses, are excited about the project and the prospect of having a place to not only eat but to socialize as well. “I look at this as part of building the community here at 560 Mineral Spring,” said Savage. “We have multiple communities here, but no central meeting place. This is where the diner idea came in. It will be a place for people to meet and gather.”
“This really is a unique example of a period in diner history, and we're fortunate to have one here now,” Savage said.