GRP007-5.jpg (53736 bytes) New York Architecture Images-Gramercy Park

Scheffel Hall


unknown; new facade, Weber & Drosser


190 Third Ave.


unknown; new facade, 1894


German Renaissance


limestone facade








In the late 19th century, east Side, north and south of 14th Street, had a substantial German population. The presence of a German community in the area is evident in the design of Scheffel Hall, a beer hall and social center that catered to this ethnic group. The hall was named for Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German balladeer known for his songs about fellowship and love. The exuberant German Renaissance building with its scrolled gable is actually a new facade placed on an older building in 1894 (the earlier building was probably a brick residence with a commercial ground floor). The Germanic theme was appropriate for the architecture of this ethnic social center. A history of Scheffel Hall, written early in the 20th century, suggests that architects Adam Weber and Hubert Drosser (both apparently German-born) worked from an idea of Carl Goerwitz, the establishment's first proprietor.

Scheffel Hall was originally an L-shaped structure with two ornate facades and an exuberant interior with massive woodwork and murals based on themes from Scheffel's songs. The three-story frontage at 143 East 17th Street was demolished after being sold to the Greek Orthodox Church of St. John the Baptist. At the time that the building was converted into a restaurant, it was owned by Augustus Van Horn Stuyvesant, the last direct male descendant of Peter Stuyvesant; Goerwitz, who ran Scheffel Hall until 1909, appears to have been the lessee. The building later housed Allaire's, a reputed meeting place for German spies during World War I, and Joe King's Rathskeller. Since then it has housed a succession of other restaurants. The Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on the designation of this building in 1966, but no action was taken on the proposal.