The Keyes Building - aka The Joel Davis House, The Bull Block, The Cosmopolitan Café


How does a building go from being “an important contributor to the current streetscape” with a “relatively intact historic fabric” to an “eyesore” worthy only of total demolition?

In New England all you have to do is . . . nothing.



October 1, 1833 – Locks and Canals sells the land to Abner Bull.

“The mortgage was then assigned to Thomas H. Perkins. Either Bull sold the property immediately to Joel Davis, a bricklayer, or Davis was a partial owner with Bull, for Davis is also described in a later deed as a mortgagee of this property to Perkins at this time.” [MHS MACRIS – LOW.1904]


1833 – 1834 – Joel Davis builds a three-story brick building at 509 Market Street (then named Lowell Street).


The property was taken over by Thomas H. Perkins at some point in time.


June 9, 1866 - Perkins’ descendent, Edward N. Perkins, sold the land and the three-story brick building on it to Patrick Keyes. Keyes had been renting a home and store about a block away before buying 509 Market Street.


Patrick Keyes and his family lived in the upper floors. Keyes operated a grocery store on the street level and served as a state representative in the 1870s. 


1870s – Lowell Street is renamed Market Street


1898 - Patrick Keyes died in 1898. The property was owned by the Keyes family until 1918.


1912 – Photo of Greek Coffee House, etc. at 505 Market Street -

This 1912 photo is of a building just 2 doors down from the Keyes Building. It contained a candy and coffee factory, a coffee house, and a barber shop as well as residences.

Read more about this building in an article from the Winter 2024 newsletter.


c. 1912 - 1913 – Cosmopolitan Café opens


By 1917, all of the occupants living in the building had Greek surnames.


1918 – John Marcopoulos bought the property from the Keyes family.


1962 - Charles Koumoutseas and Louis Coumas bought the property from John Marcopoulis.


A 1979 photo

July 1992 – July 2007 – Alan Kazanjian served on the Zoning Board of Appeals from July 1992 until July 2007.


November 1992 – Photo of 491 to 503 Market Street

March 6, 1998 - The 509 Market Street property was acquired by Mar-Sac Realty Trust, Alan Kazanjian Trustee, in 1998 for $60,000, from the estate of Charles Koumoutseas.


July 2, 1999 – 493 – 503 Market Street acquired by Mar-Sac Realty Trust, Alan Kazanjian Trustee


The building at 493 Market St. was allowed to be demolished by Kazanjian on the condition that he salvage the building at 509.


According to an historic board memo quoted in the February 12, 2016 Lowell Sun, the “economic downturn in late 2000s, early 2010s” precluded any development from happening. [Editor’s note - the Great Recession that began in the U.S. officially in December 2007 and lasted until June 2009, thus lasting 19 months.]


During that time, according to the memo as quoted in the Sun, “Periodic inspections of 509 Market Street to ensure minimum maintenance/mothballing/protection takes place including boarding and roof. Owner is 100 percent responsive and accommodating with all requests.”


2007– Alan Kazanjian becomes a member of the Lowell City Council

Photo credit – Gray Fitzsimons

A photo taken on Sunday April 12, 2009 of the back and side of the building

A detail from the 2009 photo above.

2009 – Alan Kazanjian loses his bid for reelection to the Lowell City Council.


2011 – This photo was taken of the building –

Photo credit – Gray Fitzsimons

Detail from the 2011 photo above.


Jan. 12, 2016 – Kazanjian gets a demolition permit for the 509 Market Street building from the City.

2022 – An archaeological dig by professors and students from UMass Lowell, UMass Boston, and Queen’s University Belfast finds a variety of artifacts from the site dating back to its earliest history.

2024 – The foundation for a new building is constructed on the site.