A Gramercy beer garden inspired by a castle

ScheffelhallNew York doesn’t have many German Renaissance-style buildings inspired by castles in the Alps.

But there’s one at 190 Third Avenue, and it’s an unusual, curious reminder of the area’s once-thriving German immigrant neighborhood.

Plus, it has a literary reputation, and rumors swirl that it served as a spy hangout too.

The back story begins in 1896, when the original building, near 17th Street, was bought by a German-American intent on turning it into a beer garden.

Remodeled to resemble Heidelberg Castle in Germany, Scheffel Hall (the name comes from a German balladeer) catered to German natives living in the upper reaches of Kleindeutschland, then centered in the East Village.


After changing hands in 1904, Scheffel Hall became Allaire’s, a full-fledged restaurant, then a German-American music hall, a rathskeller, and later the jazz club Fat Tuesday’s until 1995.

“Its patrons have included a number of leading politicians and writers, notably O. Henry who used Scheffel Hall as the setting for a short story in 1909,” states a Landmarks Preservation Committee Report from 1997.

ScheffelhallinsideH.L. Mencken also hung out there, as did other literary figures in Gramercy.

And then there’s the espionage angle: Allaire’s was reportedly a gathering place for German American spies during World War I, reports New York Architecture.

Today it’s a Pilates studio, but that’s okay. The owners haven’t touched the facade, and the dark woodwork and detailing in the interior remains.

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12 Responses to “A Gramercy beer garden inspired by a castle”

  1. wendy Says:

    Luchows used to be near this place. I guess that was the last remnant of the German neighborhood. What a place that was!

  2. ephemeralnewyork Says:

    So many people send in their incredible memories of Luchows. I wish I’d gone there:


  3. Joe R Says:

    This location had a popular beer and burger bar/restaurant in the 1980’s.

  4. The Day | Scorsese Pushes For Bowery Preservation - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com Says:

    […] “With thousands of feral cat colonies in New York City, a nonprofit organization is training volunteers how to care for the stigmatized felines through workshops on humanely trapping, fixing and then releasing the animals.” [DNA Info] “New York doesn’t have many German Renaissance-style buildings inspired by castles in the Alps. But there’s one at 190 Third Avenue, and it’s an unusual, curious reminder of the area’s once-thriving German immigrant neighborhood.” [Ephemeral NY] […]

  5. SoBklyn Says:

    Les Paul played at Fat Tuesday’s from 1983 until it closed in 1995 (when he moved on to Iridium).

    • Joe R Says:

      Fat Tuesday’s! You’re right! The Daytoninmanhattan blog mentioned that it was there from 1979 to 1995.

  6. BabyDave Says:

    Fat Tuesday’s was the room downstairs, entered separately through the white door at left in the top photo.The “beer and burger bar/restaurant” was Tuesday’s, on street level.

  7. Sharon Florin Says:

    A great building that I pass often. It inspired me to paint this painting. http://sjfnewyork.blogspot.com/search?q=Scheffel+Hall

  8. New York Architecture Photos: Scheffel Hall Says:

    […] Ephemeral New York blog […]

  9. Inside a rathskeller in New York’s Little Germany | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] opened a restaurant serving “moderately priced German dishes and imported beers”  in a German Renaissance Revival building on Third Avenue and 17th […]

  10. trilby1895 Says:

    One more of the miraculously still-extant Gilded Age buildings in my beloved New York City, I stop and admire whenever in the neighborhood, try to imagine a rowdy Saturday night back in the day. Thank you so much for the photos and article, EphemeralNewYork!

  11. An 1877 Park Avenue mansion funded by beer | Ephemeral New York Says:

    […] to all the beer gardens and saloons popping up in the Gilded Age, Ehret made a fortune. In 1877 he bought land on newly […]

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