First of all, thank you everybody for the architectural-related information provided on this thread. I have much internets surfing to do. Thanks for all of the Burger Chef crap too (very entertaining, really). The one thing for which I'm still really at a loss is anything regarding the Lyric Piano Company itself. The only thing I was able to turn up was an outdated ebay listing for a Lyric piano in the Phillipines, and nobody I've asked seems to remember it. This is going to involve a trip to the library, I think.
So today I walked over the the building to take a couple of pictures (not many, since I am, as I believe I have mentioned, Earth's worst photographer). I tried to study the front a little more closely. Believe it or not, it looks to be in very good shape. It's brick, it's holding up well, it's not even very dirty. That facade is indeed marble, it isn't cracked and in the sunlight it is almost gleamy. The windows are unbelievably gorgeous, entirely intact and seemingly all old, and there are flowers in the flower boxes. When I crossed the street to take a picture from a distance, I noticed that a window was open and there was a worklight on in one of the rooms. i mentioned this earlier, but for anyone who missed it, I found on the auditor's site that Burger Chef sold the building to Hardee's in 2005 (a legal name thing I assume, since the companies seems to be one and the same and the restaurant was long closed by 2005, though that 99-year lease was still in effect), and Hardee's sold the building to a couple in October for $150,000. With the recent purchase, the worklight and the flowers all there despite the fact that nobody's inhabited the building for years, clearly someone's doing something here.
(I can send anybody a bigger picture of this if you like, because the detail is amazing)
Then I walked to the back to investigate and see whether the beloved Burger Chef sign is still painted back there. As you can see there is an alleyway running right alongside the building. Behind the building there is a little lot, and behind that, a parking garage, so there's actually a little bustle of activity back there. The first thing I see on my way back is this funny little looking thing that, in my vision of my sound studio/baseball card shop life, is referred to as the "henhouse". I wish I had taken a picture of it in context because it just looks like a little house thing with a roof stuck right in the middle of the wall just behind the facade on the side of the building. It's hard to explain. But awesome. Makes me think the building was added onto at some point, of course, and the henhouse was left there, although I'm baffled given the fact that the facade takes up most of the width of the front of the building. There are also, appropo of nothing, painted awnings above some of the windows, because, you know, awnings were developed for aesthetic purposes only. What is it with Cincinnati and painted buildings? The stairway-and-statue building, the gorilla building. Awes.
And then I got to the back, and what do you know: there at the back door is a van with a workman standing by it. So I started talking to him. he was supernice and answered all my questions and let me take pictures. He said that the man who bought it is turning it into apartments on the top two floors (and I didn't pay attention to whether he said "apartments on the top two floors" or "TWO apartments on the top floors", which is bugging me because I'm curious; those top two floors could easily hold more than one apiece). The guy who bought the building is going to live in one of them. The second floor is to be office space, and he hasn't decided what to do with the first floor yet (cough sound studio baseball card shop cough). And I was a little excited when I made my last post; I did not actually get a tour. But I think I could...the reason he didn't let me go in very far today was because they were taking down part of the ceiling just inside the back doorway. "It's going to be a garage..." he told me, and then gave me A Look: "...for his Porsche."
He said some other things too. I tell you though, the Guy is smart; not all buildings downtown have driveable pavement right behind them, but this one happens to because of the parking garage back there, so Guy can drive straight up to his house, park in his garage, and never pay for parking.
Since i knew from the auditor's site that the building was sold for only $150,000, and that CityBeat article made it sound like the whole building was falling down, I was very surprised at his answer when I asked what kind of shape the building's in. He said it's in very good shape, structurally sound, good wood floors and all that. He doesn't know how soon it's going to be ready but that's only because there's some indecision about choices and all that. $150,000 for a building that beautiful and it's in good shape. Man, we all missed the boat on that one.
However, the man standing in front of the building next door did offer to sell it to me for the bargain-basement price of $3 million. He also offered me a diamond ring, though, so I take it with a grain of salt.
And so finally, just for you guys, the coup de grace, the moment you've all been waiting for and all those cliches:
But you'd better all get your little tails over there fast or I suspect there will be nothing to see but the wrong side of a Porsche house.