Another famed New York City establishment, Chumley’s, has sadly shuttered. This historic bar and restaurant originally opened as a Greenwich Village speakeasy in 1922. After a series of fits and starts over the past century, it was most recently renovated and re-opened in 2016. For the past few months, Chumley’s had been temporarily closed to comply with orders that shut down New York City bars and restaurants. However, as New York City’s lockdown lifts, Chumley’s doors will remain closed permanently. While you won’t be able to visit the legendary establishment at 86 Bedford Street anymore, you can take a piece of it home with you.
Swanky leather booth benches, green bar stools, kitchen equipment, and literary memorabilia from inside Chumley’s are all up for grabs in an online-only auction hosted by A. J. Wilner Auctions. The auction is open for bidding now and ends Wednesday, July 29th. The auction page notes that “everything must be sold regardless of price.” While some of the more practical items like chairs and refrigerators are relatively new, from the 2016 renovation, some of the memorabilia up for sale has been part of Chumley’s for decades.
Founder Leland Chumley, who considered himself a writer, attracted the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and J.D. Salinger to his bar. Fitzgerald even had a favorite table, table 26. Chumley honored the patronage of his writer friends by hanging up their portraits. He also hung the dust jackets of their published work, a tradition that continued through 2007. When Chumley’s re-opened in 2016, the pictures and dust jackets that had been saved from previous iterations of the establishment covered nearly every inch of the walls. All of those items are on the auction block this week.
The most recent reincarnation of Chumley’s, as a restaurant and bar, paid homage to its Prohibition-era roots. After passing through the unmarked entrance, customers could sip a cocktail out of a teacup while Hemingway peered down from the textured-wallpaper clad walls in the low lighting of gilded sconces. One of our Untapped New York Insiders, Marcy Davis, reminisced about visiting the legendary Greenwich Village spot and expressed remorse at its closing:
“I spent many a night nursing Black Russians on those leather banquettes with dates, friends and colleagues, hanging out into the wee hours and reluctantly responding to the last call. Every person with literary aspirations fantasized about sitting there with a portable typewriter and churning out reams of prose. I am sorry to say goodbye.”
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