I walked by Bill's Gay 90s saloon on E. 54 Street yesterday, for the first time since the Prohibition-era tavern closed last March, and found it gutted.
One of the windows looking into the second-floor dining room was papered over, but the other one was wide open. (There was work going on inside, but I didn't see any workers. I could only hear them.) One could easily see that the walls, which were once covered with framed theatrical posters from the 1890s and 1900s, and other artifacts of Olde New York, has been stripped bare.
It was harder to spy the state of the ground floor barroom. But a glance through the narrow line of top windows revealed that the old bar, all the boxing posters, and the famous carved-wood-and-stained-glass swinging doors (which once hung in the old Hoffman House) were all gone.
The window below looks into the third floor, which once contained the old bar from Delmonico's. It, too, appears to have been gutted.
This big question here is: where did all the artifacts and furniture go? There was a legal battle between the owner of Bill's, Barbara Bart Olmsted, and Noel Tynan, the Irish owner of the building, as to who owned all the saloon's accoutrements. Tynan made it clear that he wanted to keep the insides just as they were, but Olmsted wanted to take all the trappings with her.
One thing's clear: the bar did not stay as it was, and all the stuff that made it special is gone. That would seem to indicate that Olmsted prevailed. Or it could be that everything is in storage and will be returned as soon as the place is renovated. But if that were the case, why take out the bar? And the shutters?