Since the news broke that the iconic White Horse Tavern has been sold, preservation groups are urging the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to make the bar’s interior an official NYC landmark.
This unusual request came almost immediately after it was released that the space would be sold to the notorious landlord, Steve Croman. The Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation (GVSHP) wrote a letter on March 8th to the LPC detailing the significance of the White Horse Tavern over the years and why the interior is just as important as the exterior (which is already a protect landmark). It states that the “iconic neighborhood tavern in the West Village has been a Mecca and gathering spot for some of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century. Its cultural significance cannot be overstated, and the potential loss of the interior of this tavern from a recent change in ownership would be a devastating loss, not only for New York City, but the country and the world.”
The letter goes on to further explain the tavern’s importance “at the center of many related political power struggles” of the early 20th century, and how prior to that (“nearly 140 years ago”) it was “one of many bars in the West Village’s Irish immigrant and Irish-American community., largely serving longshoremen and other workers from the docks along the Hudson River.” It was until mid-20th century that it then became a hub for literary figures and artists. [You can read the full letter here.]
Now, lawmakers are also getting involved in the fight for preservation with a handful of elected officials writing letters to the LPC as well. According to Curbed, the recent letter states: “Although the new owner has pledged to maintain its history and preserve the legacy, we believe the interior will now be open to destruction and that a landmark designation of the inside of this cultural and literary treasure is necessary to insure its protection.” Adding, “We are deeply concerned about the preservation of the interior of this iconic Village tavern.”
Steve Croman is known for being a terrible landlord, and even spent eight months on Rikers Island for grand larceny (but has has a laundry list of issues against him and his buildings from tenants as well).
The LPC has not released any verdict yet on this decision, but the community will keep pushing until then.
featured image source: Facebook/ White Horse Tavern, Hudson / Dov Hechtman
Also published on Medium.