A preservation group is asking the city to grant landmark designation to the interior of the White Horse Tavern, the legendary New York literati gathering spot that was recently sold.
In what is a relatively rare landmarking request, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (also known as Village Preservation) urged the City’s Landmark Preservation Commission in a March 8th letter to consider preserving the interior of 567 Hudson Street. The exterior of the building, a wood-frame house which dates back to 1880, falls under the Greenwich Village Historic District and is already protected as a landmark.
Landmarking requests for the interiors of buildings occur much less frequently than those for exteriors. All told, there are only about 10 interior-landmarked properties in the neighborhood and 120 across the city. In order to be awarded interior landmark status, the space must be open to the public. It cannot be a place of worship.
“This is really exactly what interior landmark designation is meant to protect,” says Andrew Berman, Village Preservation’s executive director. “It’s a place where incredibly an important piece of New York history has taken place. And it’s largely intact from the time period.”
Over the years, the famed guest list has included James Baldwin, Anais Nin, Norman Mailer, John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Bob Dylan, and Jim Morrison. In his letter, Berman said bars like White Horse Tavern were "modern-day versions of 19th century literary saloons."
Berman said the request was spurred by the sale of the building. Last week, Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York reported that the building had been sold to Steve Croman, one of the city’s most notorious landlords. Last year, Croman was ordered to pay $8 million in restitution as part of a settlement of the state’s biggest tenant harassment case.
Croman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A rep for restaurateur Etan Sugarman, who has been tapped as the bar’s new operator, confirmed the sale to Croman, according to Eater.
As news of the sale spread, White Horse Tavern regulars bemoaned the sale of the beloved establishment, expressing concerns that the bar’s new management will do away with its low-cost menu.
Sugarman, who is best known for Hunt & Fish Club, an upscale Times Square steakhouse, has not yet disclosed any plans for the bar. “We are only focused on preserving the rich history and legacy of this iconic institution for New Yorkers,” he told Eater.
Sugarman posted about his new role on his Instagram page, writing, "This place his been deemed a historic landmark, and I consider it an absolute treasure. People are writing me, asking if I intend to maintain it as The White Horse Tavern...My friends, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m privileged to take the reigns on this true piece of New York history. I will preserve and maintain this wonderful piece of old New York. You’ve got the right man for the job. This is going to be a great project."
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Friends..This is an important one. Yesterday I closed a deal to take over one of the most iconic bars/restaurants in the country. The White Horse Tavern is the second oldest continuously operating bar in NYC, founded in 1880. This place is a historical landmark, steeped in New York history. This was Dylan Thomas’ favorite pub. He would sit at the bar and write his poetry. Jim Morrison and The Doors were regulars. So was Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and Hunter S.Thompson. Etc. This place his been deemed a historic landmark, and I consider it an absolute treasure. People are writing me, asking if I intend to maintain it as The White Horse Tavern...My friends, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m privileged to take the reigns on this true piece of New York history. I will preserve and maintain this wonderful piece of old New York. You’ve got the right man for the job. This is going to be a great project. More announcements to come. #nyc #oldnewyork #bar #greenwichvillage #history #whitehorsetavern #dylanthomas #bobdylan #the doors #jackkerouac #madmen
Berman said he is hoping the city’s Landmarks Commission takes up his request soon. There is no deadline for the commission to respond. The first step in the public review process would be to “calendar” the interior of the building, a sign Berman said that would indicate that the commission is very seriously considering landmarking.
“It’s important to do this now,” he said, adding, “Before it’s possibly too late.”