11 September 2011

"21" Club Bathroom Murals Safe After Renovation

I dread every change that is made to the "21" Club. Every alteration takes us that much further from the original item, that much along the road away from a New York historical marvel that needs no change. When they eliminated the coat-and-tie dress code, my stomach turned. When they removed the original bar and replaced it with a shortened facsimile, a bit of my soul died.

Recently, the owners, Orient-Express Hotels Inc., decided to sweep out the front lounge area and replace it with a modern cocktail bar, complete with stools and draft beer (something never before seen at "21"). The bar would displace the restrooms. My heart sank a bit at this news. While I welcomed the bar—which makes it easier for humble folk of limited means, such as myself, to patronize "21"—I worried about the bathrooms. The men's room—which has long been presided over by a men's room attendant, a gracious, loquacious character called "The Rev"—was home to some wonderful and witty murals.

The artworks, executed in the 1930s by the now-largely-forgotten society artist Charles "Top Hat" Baskerville, depict various well-heeled ladies and gentlemen relieving themselves in whimsical, highly unlikely ways. I worried about the murals' fate.
But while the entrance to the men's bathroom has been shifted from the south wall of the lobby to the west, the bathrooms are essentially to the same, and the murals are untouched. It was a great, uh, relief to see them again. 


Grade "A" Fancy said...

While I too shudder with each change, I think that the lounge room in the front was a fairly recent addition.

With fear in my heart and a big fat cocktail on my mind, I'm off to "21" this evening for a party.
To be continued...

Anonymous said...

That poor goldfish is doomed!


Grade "A" Fancy said...

The conclusion: It wasn't all that bad. The "21" baseball cap on the doorman was the tackiest and most jarring sight of the night. The new bar does hit your eye the second you walk in the door, giving a much different feel than the cozy room of before. Perhaps that is their intention. It was fairly bland, and we made a beeline for the real bar around the corner. Aaah. And the old bar was crowded with regulars.
An added note: the food was all first rate, and the excellent waitstaff appeared to be long-timers. A photo from the cellar on our fb page today.