Photo of the Week
June 11, 2017

As a follow up to last week's photo, here is another photo of the same building, but late 40's or 50's vintage.  The post card is identified as the Tivoli USO which has now identified what this mystery building from last week was. 
It appears that the building in this photo has had some additional structure added.  In the other photo the band was sitting in a long porch area.  That porch in gone in this newer photo and the building has expanded out where the porch was.  If you zoom into the sign over the entranceway (although hard to read) it appears to say Tonight SkatinG in the middle sign and Movie on the far right sign.  I canít make out the left sign.

I contacted Joe Wood as I knew he lived by the Tivoli as a youth about this building and Joe shared this information:

"I lived on Tivoli Avenue, across the street and to the right of the Tivoli Hotel from 1941 to 1950. Our house was demolished in 1950, which is why it doesnít appear on the map. I think our house number was 404. As a kid, we used to play in the ball field below the hotel, behind the building in your photo. That building was erected at the beginning of WW II as a USO to provide morale support and recreation for US servicemen. After the war, it was used by the Canal organization as the Pacific Service Center (sort of like a clubhouse).  In 1956 the building was scheduled for demolition. See this article on Page 3 of the December 7, 1956 Panama Canal Review:

 It doesnít appear that it was demolished at that time, and was probably sold to the Canal Zone Bus Service (the founder and owner of the bus service was Angus Matheney, whose grandson, Grover Matheney, operated the school and public bus service for the CZ and the Navy for years).

 Also in that area below the hotel was a small zoo operated by the Canal. I believe the animals were later transferred to Summit Botanical Gardens.

Joe reached out to a couple of old timer Ancon boys and this is some more info:

Of course I clearly remember the USO building as I went there a number of times during the war.  I remember a gift shop and there was a skating rink in there too.  The zoo was in Parque De Lesseps, and I have pictures taken of my sister and I feeding the animals there.  It was located just inside the Panama border, right in line with the end of Ancon Blvd., and there were a number of trees in the area.  There was some kind of a concrete structure at the entrance where there was a water fountain.  Joe Salas told me that he used to sleep there on occasion.  The area where the USO and bus terminal was later became known as Shaler Triangle.

Thanks Joe and friends for this information as these memories are kept and recorded.

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