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By Joseph O'Neill
Marie’s Crisis Cafe opened its doors in 1929 as a restaurant/speakeasy by Marie DuMont, a French national, for whom the bar is partly named after. The Crisis part of the name comes from the fact that Thomas Paine who wrote the pamphlet, The American Crisis, died on the site in 1809. The current building dates back to 1839. From that date to 1929 the building was once a boarding house then a brothel then eventually became the bar it is now. Marie DuMont sold the building and the bar to the current owners, the Grant Family, in 1972, at which time they stopped serving food. We are not sure exactly when Marie’s became a sing-a-long. The facade of the building and the interior have been the backdrop to many movies and television shows/series, including the shows The Politician and Younger and the movies, Adam & Steve and Side Street, you will see a cameo by Marie Dumont.
The etched glass mural behind the bar was a Work Project Administration (WPA), commissioned by Marie to commemorate Thomas Paine’s death on the site. We are not sure whom the artist was. It depicts the American Revolution on one side and the French Revolution on the other. On the French side you will notice the communist symbols of the sickle and hammer and the man with the beard and pipe is supposed to be Vladimir Lenin. And in the middle piece are the French national motto “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” and below that is the saying “Rights of Man” a book by Thomas Paine.
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