A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from January 10, 2015

"Fixer upper” was frequently used in the 1930s to mean a person who fixes things up. In the 1940s, houses that needed work were advertised—at presumed lower prices—for these “fixer uppers.” “R.U.A. FIXER UPPER?” was a real estate classified ad in 1943. “Here Is An Opportunity For ‘Mr. Fixer Upper’” was a real estate classified ad in 1947.

Eventually, the house needing work was itself called a “fixer upper.” Real estate classified ads with this use have been cited in print since at least 1945 and 1948.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
fixer-upper, n.
1. A person who or thing which repairs or arranges things. Cf. fix v. 14.
1932 Bismarck (N. Dakota) Tribune 26 Oct. 6/7 With the ink hardly dry on his accomplishment as champion batsman of the National League, it will be necessary now to add photographer, bicycler, and all around fixer upper.
2. A house, car, etc., in need of repair, esp. one therefore offered for sale at a bargain price. Also in extended use.
1948 Los Angeles Times 18 Oct. iii. 12 (advt.) Fixer Upper, $17,000… Tile, hardwd.
1972 Mountain Democrat (Placerville, Calif.) 30 Mar. a15 (advt.) A real fixer upper! 1½ story 3 br. home on xtra choice lot among the cedars, asking $9950.
1995 Wall St. Jrnl. 14 Sept. a1 He recalls one of his earliest cars, a ‘40s fixer-upper.

13 June 1943, Seattle (WA) Times, pg. 22, col. 8 classified ad:
If so, we can show you how to make a nice profit. We have a well-built 7-room home, on a large lot, in a fine district.
(Baird & Finrow.—ed.)

31 March 1945, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, pg. 16, col. 4 classified ad:
FIXER-UPPER—For the man who is handy with tools. A 9-room home on a fine, wide, paved street. (...) JACOBY & HALL, REALTORS, 92 Pacific ave., Santa Cruz.

8 May 1947, Oakland (CA) Tribune, pg. 25, col. 4 classified ad:
Here Is An Opportunity
For “Mr. Fixer Upper,” an Avenue Terrace district 6-room stucco; ...

OCLC WorldCat record
Find it, buy it, fix it : the insider’s guide to fixer-uppers
Author: Robert Irwin
Publisher: Chicago, Ill. : Real Estate Education Co., ©1996.
Edition/Format: Book : English
Database: WorldCat
Tells how to locate and profit from fixer-upper properties. Covers such topics as estimating costs, negotiating contracts, obtaining the best financing and more.

OCLC WorldCat record
From Farmhouse to Our House Renovating an 1850s fixer-upper taught the owners that rebuilding an old house is nothing like building a new one
Author: M Alexander
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: MONEY -BOULDER- 30, Part 8 (2001): 106-110
Database: British Library Serials

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBuildings/Housing/Parks • Saturday, January 10, 2015 • Permalink