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Searching for the bark that named ‘The Bark’

January 28, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

"The Bark Grill" was the subject line that appeared in a Westfield Historian email, sent by "Marty" on December 14, 2015.

"Ms. Beigh," the email read, "We are an architectural wall covering company in North Carolina who specializes in high end finishes using tree bark. Recently, a client contacted us and mentioned that we should look into the Bark Grill in Westfield as it apparently has or had bark on the walls at one time. I pulled your name from a 2012 article about the bar and was wondering if you had any photos of the bark wall? Did any other structures in the area use tree bark? Any assistance that you could provide would be deeply appreciated."

"Oh goody!" thought your Westfield Historian. "Another History Mystery to solve!"

Article Photos

Submitted photo
This photo shows the tree bark that used to be on the walls of the Bark Grill in Westfield.

So it was off to the Westfield Historian archives to locate the files from the 2012 BeeLines series about the History of the Bark Grill, and to send a first reply to Marty reading in part: "Thank you for contacting me regarding the bark walls that used to be in the Bark Grill. I've contacted the current owner for permission to share what photos I have in my archives with you and they are very happy for me to do so... As for any other location in the area that used tree bark, I have not run across any mention of such."

A few days later, only two photos were located that showed the bark on the walls. These were scanned, and sent to Marty, as well as an update on trying to determine the source of the bark. According to the stories written by previous historical writers, the bark was obtained from the Ripley Basket Factory, but the dates suggested for when this happened varied from 1940, through 1947, 1950 and even as late as 1960. Since the date of one of the photos was from about 1950, the next step was to look through microfilmed Westfield Republican newspapers, looking for Bark Grill ads or articles. Prior to being called The Bark Grill, one ad from 1935 had been found, using the name, "The Spaghetti Restaurant" from when it was run by Tony DiPasquale's mother, Mamie, and her second husband, Henry Cozza. The bark was installed after Mamie gave the restaurant to Tony, sometime between 1935 and 1950. The bark was removed in 1989 by a later owner, Ron Frushone, after it had deteriorated to where it could not be repaired or preserved.

After the photos were sent to Marty, the Christmas holidays and Marty's vacation to Mexico intervened. Meanwhile, searches were made for Bark Grill ads prior to 1950; some were located for 1949, 1948, 1947, 1946, 1945, 1944, and April, 1943. No ads or articles were found in the 1940, 1941, or 1942 newspapers during this search.

Also, requests for information about a "Ripley Basket Factory" were emailed and posted on Westfield Historian Facebook page, resulting in discovering a lot more history about the local grape basket industry of the first half of the 1900s. Marty had indicated that most use of Bark for wall decor had ended by the Great Depression of the 1930s. And the information about basket factories making baskets for shipping table grapes indicated a similar time frame. So the Bark Grill's application at least as late as apparently 1943 was highly unusual and hence of great interest to Marty. These findings were shared with Marty a week into January 2016.

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Editor's note: See next week's edition for Part II of the story behind the Bark Grill's bark.

 
 
 

 

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