Posts Tagged ‘Scheffel Hall’

A Gramercy beer garden inspired by a castle

March 21, 2013

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.