One of NYC’s oldest gay bars may finally be getting the recognition it deserves!
The city’s Landmark Preservation Commission voted during a public hearing this past Tuesday morning (9/13) to “calendar” the building that’s home to the bar, meaning a public hearing would be scheduled to discuss the building’s historic significance. This takes it one step closer to officially being named a historic landmark.
Located at 159 West 10th Street, Julius’ is one of NYC’s oldest gay bars, which opened in 1930 and was a site of protest against laws and regulations that banned service to those who identified as gay or lesbian. On April 21, 1966, three gay men from the NYC Mattachine Society organized a “Sip-In” in which they visited four bars to challenge these regulations. They were refused service at Julius’, marking a critical moment in LGBT history.
“This early gay rights action and the attendant publicity helped to raise awareness of widespread anti-LGBT discrimination and harassment,” reads a plaque fastened outside Julius’ by the Village Preservation and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project.
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) asked the NYState Office of Historic Preservation to find Julius’ Bar eligible to be considered a historic landmark back on December 5, 2012. Less than two weeks later it was found eligible by the State, making it one of the first sites in the country to achieve this status based upon LGBT history.
Though the National Register of Historic Places added Julius’ Bar back in April 2016, the hearing on Tuesday was the first time the city formally debated considering it a landmark.
“We have staff working specifically on identifying sites that are significant to the LGBTQ community and heritage in the city,” said chair of the Landmark Preservation Commission Sarah Carroll at the hearing. “And this has always been one that we have been thinking about.”
Carroll didn’t give a specific date of when this public hearing would be held, but mentioned it would be sometime this fall.
“This is a tremendously important step toward conferring much-needed recognition and protection upon this site, which played such an enormously important role in the LGBTQ+ civil rights movement,” said Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Village Preservation. “LGBTQ+ and civil rights history like that which is embodied in Julius’ are essential elements of our collective story, and it’s critical that they not be forgotten or erased.”