Everard Baths

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Everard Baths
Eveard-bath1.jpg
Baths in 2009
General information
Type Bath house
Location New York City
Address 28 West 28th Street
Country United States
Coordinates 40°44′43″N 73°59′21″W / 40.7454°N 73.9892°W / 40.7454; -73.9892Coordinates: 40°44′43″N 73°59′21″W / 40.7454°N 73.9892°W / 40.7454; -73.9892
Opening 1888 (1888)
Renovated 1977
Closed April 1986 (1986-04)
Other information
Facilities private rooms, wet and dry steamrooms, pool

The Everard Baths or Everard Spa Turkish Bathhouse was a gay bathhouse at 28 West 28th Street in New York City that operated from 1888 to 1986. The venue occupied an adaptively reused church building and was the site of a deadly fire.

History[edit]

Everard Baths was a Turkish bath founded by financier James Everard in 1888 in a former church building, designed in a typical late-nineteenth-century Victorian Romanesque Revival architectural style. James Everard who operated the Everard brewery on 135th Street converted it to a bathhouse in 1888. Everard's bathhouse was intended for general health and fitness.[1]

On November 28, 1898 a soldier was found dead in his room at the baths and gas was suspected.[2][3]

On January 5, 1919 the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice encouraged a police raid in which the manager and nine customers were arrested for lewd behavior. It was raided again in 1920 with 15 arrests.[4]

It was patronized largely by homosexuals by the 1920s and became the community's preeminent social venue from the 1930s onward.[5] It was patronized by gay men before the 1920s and by the 1930s had a reputation as "classiest, safest, and best known of the baths," eventually picking up the nickname "Everhard".[6]

The entrance was lit by two green lamps giving it, according to patrons, the appearance of a police precinct and giving rise to speculation that it was owned for a period by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of the City of New York (a claim that would be vehemently denied after patrons died in a 1977 fire).

Emlyn Williams described a visit in 1927:

Up some stairs at a desk an ashen bored man in shirtsleeves produced a ledger crammed with illegible scrawls. I added mine, paid my dollar, was handed a key, towel and robe, hung the key on my wrist and mounted to a large floor as big as a warehouse and as high: intersecting rows of private rooms each windowless cell dark except from the glimmer from above through wire-netting shredded with dust and containing a narrow workhouse bed...[he later heard] a casual whisper, a sigh lighter than thistle-down, a smothered moan. Then appeasement: the snap of a lighter as two strangers sat back for a smoke and polite murmured small talk, such as they might exchange in a gym.[2]

Among the documented patrons were Alfred Lunt, Lorenz Hart, Charles James, Gore Vidal and Rudolf Nureyev.[7] Truman Capote and Ned Rorem wrote about their visits.[8]

On May 25, 1977 nine patrons (ages 17 to 40) were killed in a fire: seven from smoke inhalation, one from respiratory burns, and one who had jumped from an upper floor. Contributing factors were the deteriorating conditions and the lack of sprinklers.[9] Firefighters said they were thwarted in rescue efforts by paneling covering the windows. Between 80 and 100 patrons left the building; the indefinite number was because the club did not have registration at the time. Most of the victims were identified by friends rather than family.[10] Accounts said costs were $5 for a locker or $7 for a cubicle ($6 and $9.25 on weekends).[11]

Despite total destruction of the top two floors, the two floors were rebuilt and the baths would reopen.[12] However, it was closed in April 1986 by New York City mayor Ed Koch during the city’s campaign to close such venues during the AIDS epidemic.[9]

Popular culture[edit]

Michael Rumaker wrote a book A Day and a Night at the Baths devoted totally to the baths.[13]

The bath is also described in the books Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran[14] and Faggots by Larry Kramer.

References[edit]

  1. ^ J. Russiello, A Sympathetic Planning Hierarchy for Redundant Churches: A Comparison of Continued Use and Reuse in Denmark, England and the United States of America] (MSc Conservation of Historic Buildings, University of Bath, 2008), p.383.
  2. ^ a b Colter, Ephen Glenn; Bedfellows, Dangerous (1996), Ephen Glenn Colter; Dangerous Bedfellows, eds., Policing public sex: queer politics and the future of AIDS activism, South End Press, ISBN 978-0-89608-549-7 
  3. ^ "Ex-Soldier Killed by Gas" (PDF). Baltimore and Ohio Southwestern. 29 November 1898. 
  4. ^ Chauncey, George (1995), Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (reprint ed.), Basic Books, ISBN 978-0-465-02621-0 
  5. ^ (Stein 2004, p. 90)
  6. ^ (Miller 1995, p. 143)
  7. ^ McCourt, James (2004), Queer street: rise and fall of an American culture, 1947-1985 : excursions in the mind of the life, W.W. Norton, ISBN 978-0-393-05051-6 
  8. ^ Plimpton, George (1997), Truman Capote: in which various friends, enemies, acquaintances, and detractors recall his turbulent career, Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, ISBN 978-0-385-23249-4 
  9. ^ a b Scott Bronstein, “4 New York Bathhouses Still Operate Under City’s Program of Inspections,” New York Times (3 May 1987).
  10. ^ 9 Killed in Bath Fire Identified by Friends - New York Times - May 27, 1977
  11. ^ http://bitterqueen.typepad.com/history_of_gay_bars_in_ne/2007/12/the-everard-bat.html
  12. ^ http://www.colors-of-leather.com/Lthr%20bars/Bars%202nd%20page/EFG/Everard%20Baths.htm
  13. ^ A Day and a Night at the Baths by Michael Rumaker Grey Fox Press (1979) ISBN 0-912516-44-5
  14. ^ Holleran, Andrew (2001), Dancer from the dance: a novel (reprint ed.), Perennial, ISBN 978-0-06-093706-5 

External links[edit]