Everard Baths  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Everard Baths was a gay bathhouse at 28 West 28th Street in New York City that operated from 1888 to 1985.

It was a church when James Everard who operated the Everard brewery on 135th Street converted it to a Turkish bath in 1888.

On November 28, 1898 a soldier was found dead in his room at the baths and gas was suspected.

On January 5, 1919 the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice encouraged a police raid in which the manager and nine customers were arrested for lewd behavior. It was raided again in 1920 with 15 arrests.

The entrance was lit by two green lamps giving according to patrons the appearance of being a police precinct and giving rise to speculation that it was owned for a period by the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association of the City of New York (a claim that would be vehemently denied after patrons died in a 1979 fire).

Emlyn Williams described a visit in 1927:

Up some stairs at a desk an ashen bored man in shirtsleeves produced a ledger crammed with illegible scrawls. I added mine, paid my dollar, was handed a key, towel and robe, hung the key on my wrist and mounted to a large floor as big as a warehouse and as high: intersecting rows of private rooms each windowless cell dark except from the glimmer from above through wire-netting shredded with dust and containing a narrow workhouse bed...[he later heard] a casual whisper, a sigh lighter than thistle-down, a smothered moan. Then appeasement: the snap of a lighter as two strangers sat back for a smoke and polite murumured small talk, such they might exchange in a gym.

Among the documented patrons were Alfred Lunt, Lorenz Hart, Charles James, Gore Vidal and Nureyev. Truman Capote and Ned Rorem wrote about their visits.

On May 25, 1977 nine patrons (ages 17 to 40) were killed in a fire -- seven from smoke inhallation, one from respiratory burns, and one who had jumped from an upper floor. Firefighters said they were thwarted in rescue efforts by paneling covering the windows. Between 80 and 100 patrons left the building -- the club did not have registration at the time. Most of the victims were identified by friends rather than family. Accounts said costs were $5 for a locker or $7 for a cubicle ($6 and $9.25 on weekends).

Despite the damage the baths would reopen and close for good in 1985 during the AIDS crisis.

Popular culture

Michael Rumaker wrote a book A Day and a Night at the Baths devoted totally about the baths. The bath is also described in the book Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Everard Baths" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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