[EVG photo from last week]
Workers continue to gut the subterranean space at 20 St. Mark's Place where the Grassroots Tavern was for 42 years (1975-2017).
And late last week, EVG contributor Derek Berg got a look inside at the murals that were discovered on the wall when workers ripped out the bar ...
We don't know how old these are.
The address, known as the Daniel LeRoy House, was built in 1832. (It received landmark status in 1971, and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.)
Updated 10 a.m.
Thanks to Gar for this link to Daytonian in Manhattan with a post on the history of the building:
By 1931 the house was home to the Hungarian Cafe and Restaurant. An incident there on July 1 reflected the gangster-driven atmosphere of the East Village in the Depression Era.
Abe Rothbard was playing cards in the cafe that night. Police later noted he had a criminal record. Patrons noticed an unknown man open the door and motion for Rothbard to go outside. When he reached the door, the man beckoned him to step further out on the sidewalk.
The Times reported "He followed him to the stoop and then four shots were fired by a third man from the sidewalk. Rothbard fell, seriously wounded." The mysterious attackers escaped.
At the beginning of the Depression, Urbain Ledoux had opened The Tub, a homeless shelter, in the old Schuetzen Hall down the block at No. 12 St. Mark's Place. Ledoux, known to the men he helped as “Mr. Zero,” accommodated 135 homeless men on cots and steamer chairs. He advertised “auctions” of the men’s services in order to find them temporary work. On New Year’s Day 1929, over two thousand homeless men ate dinner there. The line outside was unbroken from early morning through the afternoon.
The year following the hit on Abe Rothbard, Ledoux took over the Hungarian Cafe. On January 3, 1932 The Times reported "Urbain Ledoux, who prefers to be called 'Mr. Zero,' announced yesterday that he would open a week from today a temperance saloon to be known a the 'Growler' at 20 St. Mark's Place. He intends to sell in it near-beer for 3 cents a glass; baked beans, soup, pudding, bread, pies and cake at 1 cent an order." Down-and-out men could "take their ease and play dominoes, checkers or cards, or read the newspapers."
Also late last week, EVG reader and GR regular Eskapee took possession of part of the former Grassroots sign (a worker was putting it out for the taking).
Meanwhile, as we noted last week, the space has been on the retail market. This apparently brought an end to the nearly 18 months Bob Precious had spent trying to open a bar-pub here.
In an email on Friday, Precious provided a recap about what happened to his venture, tentatively called Subterranean:
Essentially, the landlord was not able to deliver the space to us. We waited almost a year and a half from the time we signed our lease for them to complete their work and, as of April 1 of this year, they were not able to commit to a date when their work would be done.
It could easily have been a two-year total wait — an impossible situation for a small company to be in. We had fixed costs — salaries for two employees hired specifically to spearhead that project, and had paid professional fees — designer, legal, structural engineer and HVAC, and could not rationalize staying in any longer. A sad situation for us because we believed in the bar and the location.
There are several unsubstantiated rumors making the rounds about the building between Second Avenue and Third Avenue, including that a new tenant has been signed for the old Grassroots space — for an unspecified Asian-style eatery.
What is known, however, is that the place needs a lot of work. Steven took these photos yesterday... showing the old GR bar sink going off to parts unknown...
... and a look inside ...
Previously on EV Grieve:
New owner lined up for the Grassroots Tavern on St. Mark's Place
20 St. Mark's Place, home of the Grassroots Tavern, has been sold
Last call at the Grassroots Tavern