Opinion Column

Owner of Jimi Hendrix Shrine has big plans

By Steve Burgess

Vincent Fodera, owner and operator of Jimi Hendrix Shrine in Vancouver. 

Vincent Fodera, owner and operator of Jimi Hendrix Shrine in Vancouver. (FILE PHOTO, 24 HOURS)

The doors are closed — the little guitars on the wall at Union and Main have been painted over. Is it time for manic depression, Vancouver? Is the Jimi Hendrix Shrine gone?

Absolutely not, according to owner Vincent Fodera, who insists there are big plans ahead for the old site. Very tall plans.

For years, the Hendrix Shrine has occupied a small shack at Union and Main, open from June to September. The little shack is believed to be the former kitchen of Vie’s Chicken Inn, where Jimi’s grandmother Nora Hendrix once worked as a cook — a small relic of Hogan’s Alley, the neighbourhood destroyed when they built the Georgia Viaduct.

Young Jimi spent some summers here with his grandmother, reportedly busking on Granville Street. Fodera cobbled together some of Jimi’s letters and some memorabilia, and dressed up a few mannequins for his tribute to the world’s greatest guitarist.

Now Fodera has relocated the little museum to a basement at 432 Homer St. But he insists that within a couple of years it will return to the old shack with an impressive new addition - a 32-foot statue of Hendrix. According to Fodera, a new project from local developer Bonnis & Sons will leave the shack in place and host the statue, too.

“Once the Georgia Viaduct comes down you’ll be able to see it from the Skytrain,” Fodera says.

Maybe. But the city insists that as of now plans for the viaduct are not set. Nor have there been any formal applications to redevelop the Union and Main site.

“There’s going to be a public hearing in six months,” Fodera says. He wants to see the site house a black community centre that would include housing for surviving residents of Hogan’s Alley. The city, Fodera says, favours SROs.

Either way, Fodera vows the statue of Jimi will rise.

“I’m having it made in Naples,” he says. “Or maybe Cuba. They’ve got some great statues of Che Guevara down there.”

Steve Burgess is a Vancouver-based writer and author of the novel Who Killed Mom? 

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