A cowboy club in the Village

When you imagine a 1930s West Village bar or club, a hole-in-the-wall speakeasy or dimly lit jazz joint probably comes to mind. But the popular Village Barn, in the basement of 52 West Eighth Street, had a hokey, country yokel theme, where, as a 1939 New York Times article put it, “the humor is rough and ready, the accents nasal, the costumes rural.”

The only clue to the hick theme in this 1936 New Yorker ad is the bit about live turtle races. Turtle races?

When the Village Barn closed in the late 1960s, it became Electric Lady Studios, where Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, and pretty much every other rock group recorded. Above ground was the late, great 8th Street Playhouse, which ran cult classics and revivals until it shut its doors in 1992.

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36 Responses to “A cowboy club in the Village”

  1. Donnie Says:

    I actually have a souvenir photo with my grandfather and grandmother at the village barn

  2. melissa Says:

    i have a souvenir photo too! that’s why i searched this restaurant…

  3. wildnewyork Says:

    Several people each week search for the Village Barn; must be a lot of souvenir photos floating around! if you want, send in a jpg to ephemeralnewyork -at- Gmail.com, and I’ll post them. I’d love to see what the inside looked like.

  4. julia & gary Says:

    We have a swizzle stick from the Village Barn 52 W 8th st Greenwich Village , N.Y. Is this of any historical relevance?

  5. Michael Finlayson Says:

    I have a picture of my Dad as a young Army officer at the Village Barn, dated October 12, 1946. Can’t see much of the club, sorry. But I thought, I wonder if that’s close to Ladyland, where I worked as a recording engineer occasionally in the late 80′s, early 90′s.

    This site answered my question. I was recording rock & roll in the same spot my Dad was hanging out 40-some years earlier! This was years before I was born – I didn’t even move to NYC ’til ’75.

  6. Penelope Says:

    I have a picture of my mother with her co-workers taken during the war. It’s in an orange folder and the print on the front shows a barn with an old hick farmer putting up a sign that says: Big Doins at the Village Barn Restaurant, 52 W. 8th St., NYC (bet 5th & 6th Ave.).

    On the back of the souvenir folder is a picture of a Minuteman with this slogan encircling him: The More Bonds You Buy – The More Planes Will Fly. It also says to write to James Swann if you want extra copies.

    I had no idea this became Electric Lady Studios. What a trip!

  7. Peter Willis Says:

    As a child in the mid-1960s, I went with my family to the Village Barn on a number of occasions because it was owned by a relation of my mother, Elaine Jantzen Willis, who I think was named Meyer Horowitz. It was always very exciting. My brothers and I got to go on stage and sing a song, and once my brother Tommy and I pushed my brother George out on the dance floor with one of the ladies who had come to our table. I loved all the decor, especially the unusual signs. We have pictures of the club from this time that show the decor. I tried to find the club by the address when I first started working in the city a number of years ago and found Electric Ladyland Studios in its place. When I hit the door buzzer on the street I explained my quest to find the place but whomever answered told me to go away. I was just watching “Nick and Nora’s Endless Playlist” and they shot a scene in the studio that triggered me to search for the Village Barn. I love the Web.

  8. Keith livermore Says:

    I knew Bob Parker Who played at the VB .with the Riders of the purple sage

  9. Keith livermore Says:

    1948I Saw the riders of the Purple Sage,at the Village Barn

  10. Jayne Fletcher-Steiner Says:

    I am the daughter of the late Tex Fletcher who headlined at the Village barn throughout the 1950′s. I spent many weekend nights there as a little girl watching the shows and meeting the guest performers.I have a picture of me doing the twist with Joey Dee. The owner, I believe his name was meyer horowitz, had a little bedroom set up in the back and my brother and i could sleep between shows.
    Great memories!

  11. Doug Says:

    In the Joni Mitchell doc “Woman of Heart and Mind” there’s a scene where you get a wonderful view The Barn. (Get the movie on NetFlix–it’s great.)

  12. wildnewyork Says:

    Thanks for sending in all these great memories of the Village Barn. I love the idea of two little kids sleeping between shows in the back!

    I have seen that Joni Mitchell doc but don’t remember the Barn. Guess I have to netflix it….

  13. Danielle Says:

    Too cool! I was just looking through some old photos and came accross the very same souvenir photo with my Grandmother and her sisters! Thats how I came accross this fourm… WOW life comes around in full circle! This just made my day!

  14. Alex Says:

    There’s a scene in Blast of Silence where the lead walks by the Village Barn after leaving the Village Gate. Great New York sight seeing circa 1961…

  15. Gayle Grant Says:

    While going through my mother’s things, I found a Winelist from the Village Barn. The innovative design caught my eye with a woman ilking a cow and another with a martini glass and the capture is “Pink Lemonade frum contented Cows” Rather than toss, thought there might be someone out there who would like this collection

    • Ann Harper Says:

      I am one of the daughters of Meyer Horowitz, the creator and owner of “The Village Barn”. I had an amazing upbringing growing up at the “Barn”! Wouldn’t trade it for anything. It’s wonderful to see all the memories of people’s experiences. My brother and sister both collect memorabilia (of which there was lots!). If anyone has anything they would care to part with I would be most grateful to be able to pass it on to them.
      Sincerely,
      Ann Harper ah4987@yahoo.com

  16. Village barn | Kimberlyanncollection Says:

    [...] A cowboy club in the Village « Ephemeral New YorkWhen the Village Barn closed in the late 1960s, it became Electric Lady Studios, where Jimi Hendrix, The Clash, and pretty much every other rock group recorded. Above ground was the late, great 8th Street Playhouse, which ran cult classics and revivals until it shut its doors in 1992. [...]

  17. Ann Harper Says:

    P.S. I used to help the camera girl develop the souvenir pictures in the dark room that was located the the right of the first flight of stairs on the street level. I also would operate the spotlight for the floor shows on occassion.

    • Jim McDonald Says:

      That must have been an interesting job. I have a large collection of souvenir nightclub photo folders, and I’ve been searching for a photograph of a camera-girl with her camera or taking a photo, and have not found one. Any suggestions?

  18. jacqui freegard Says:

    I too have a souvenir Photo in folder the photo shows my 5 aunts seated at a table and the notice in the background reads, Rita Hayworth has vacated the building. The photo cost $1.00 according to the folder back.

    • Ann Harper Says:

      I used to help the photographer develop the pictures in the dark room which was to the right of the staircase as you entered from the street. Lots of good memories!

  19. Ralph Ziegler Says:

    My second cousin Henry Day (Harry Day and Della) performed at the Village Barn in April 1944.

  20. Susan Ross Wolf Says:

    I went to St. Joseph’s Academy with Ruthie Horwitz. I remember her having a birthday party there. it was great finding other people with memories of the Village Barn.

    • Ann Harper Says:

      My sister & I both had all our birthday parties there. Looking back I realize how lucky we were!

    • Ruth Hackett Says:

      Wow, Susan Ross! There really are only 6 Degrees of Separation! My sister, Florence Ann sent me this blog, and I was delighted…..I immediately called Paula Lupiano Conway, who lives down the hall from me to share you with her! Do you live in NYC? Could we three get together, perhaps in the Village for lunch? Would love to know what you have been doing…….definitely brought back some very good stuff! Thanks, hope to hear from you.
      Ruth
      ruthhackett46@gmail.com

  21. Nicole LaMarche Says:

    Hi, I actually have an original hand-painted menu/wine list from 1940! It was my grandma’s and she went there while at The World’s Fair!! I have it in a box frame in perfect condition. The painting & characters on the front are fantastic! Will share if you would like to view this!
    Nicole… Orlando, FL

  22. john mulrenan Says:

    I played the village barn with a rock band ” Rasputin and the Mad Monks ” in the late 60′s for a few weeks. We played opposite a society band and there was also a standup comic. It was the last gasp I guess. We played mostly to tour bus patrons. We wondered about the odd decor. Now I finally know. Thanks for posting this site.

  23. Teresa House Says:

    I came across a red table cloth @ a sale, paid $1.00 for it. In one corner it says the Village Barn, Greenwich Village,NY, U.S.A. My husband is originally from Watertown, NY.would love to see the inside when it was a happening place, if anyone has photos they can send a pic to treesa.house@yahoo.com

  24. The Village Barn Says:

    […] became of the Village Barn? Ephemeral New York explains: “When the Village Barn closed in the late 1960s, it became Electric Lady Studios, […]

  25. Arnold Harris Says:

    My dad, Irving Harris, played in the band there in the 50′s—piano & accordion.

  26. Walt Says:

    my father appeared many times. At the barn. I used to go and watch him perform back 60 years ago. it was fun.

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