This building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places only by its address. The Grad Building was chosen as the best name to acknowledge an early owner, and first tenant in the building.
In May 1890, Michael Grad, a bartender from Wisconsin, spent $2500 to purchase just enough of the property to build a saloon—35 feet along 11th Street. Grad’s saloon was just a stone throw from the notorious Devil's Row collection of saloons and questionable entertainment. Just around the corner from Grad on Larrabee Avenue was "Annie’s Palace” a well-known brothel.
Fairhaven's Calaboose was located on the corner of 11th and Larrabee, just south of the building. (Calaboose is a western term for jail.). Today that location is a parking lot.
Gordon Tweit received a letter from Michael Grad’s granddaughter, Louise, documenting the family history. Grad moved to Fairhaven in 1889 with $6,000 to "build the best saloon and bar around here.”
Michael, his wife Mary, and children Gilbert and Stella resided on the floors over the saloon which was located in the basement. To enter the saloon, a stairway at the front of the building lead down to a separate entrance below. Today the window and door has been sealed and the steps to the saloon filled in and paved with brick, leaving no clue to the early saloon’s entrance from the outside.
According to Louise's letter, Michael Grad "hauled in the dough – all down McKenzie Avenue and Harris Street – red light district” and apparently blew much of it gambling and drinking. His 15 year-old son Gilbert had him thrown in "the clink” once. The trip to jail was not a long one.