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Historic White Horse Tavern shutters for renovations

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“Have no fear, we have no intention of changing any of the historical elements,” the new owners say

Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The White Horse Tavern has closed for renovations amid calls for the interior of the storied literary haunt to receive landmark status.

Management shuttered the 139-year-old bar Sunday for “some much needed repairs and upgrades,” according to the a note posted on the eatery’s door. The renovations come weeks after the tavern was turned over to a new owner and its building purchased by notorious landlord and convicted felon Steve Croman. The White Horse’s new operator, Eytan Sugarman, has repeatedly said he aims to preserve the bar’s unique character.

“It’s a wonderful old building that just needs a little love. Have no fear, we have no intention of changing any of the historical elements that make White Horse Tavern the landmark that it is,” according to the note posted at the tavern. “The new owners share this communities’ feeling of history and reverence for White Horse Tavern and are committed to maintaining and continuing this great legacy.”

The bar is famed for serving several famed writers including Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, and Norman Mailer.
Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

When the tavern was purchased in March, an outpouring of concern about the fate of the restaurant’s historic character prompted preservationists and elected officials to push for a city designation that would protect the tavern’s interior as a landmark.

“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,” a cadre of elected officials, including City Council speaker Corey Johnson, wrote in a March 20 letter to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Now that renovations are underway it may be too late for such an effort. The White Horse Tavern is expected to remain closed for the next “few weeks,” according to the note from management. City preservation officials are reviewing requests to landmark the restaurant’s interior, according to landmarks spokesperson Zodet Negron.