The Keller Hotel 1898 & Keller’s Bar 1956

The Keller Hotel located at 384 West Street was assembled in 1897/1898 for $68,000 in its Renaissance Revival style design used by Julius Munckwitz the architect and built by William Farrel. Julius Munckwitz was one of the supervising architect & superintendent of parks in New York City during this time and also maintained a architectural firm in Harlem nYc.

The building has two cast iron storefronts at the ground floor level of the West Street facade, which feature a continuous cornice & columns with a stylized floral design at the tops of the columns. The upper levels are constructed of brick with stone trim and feature a restrained use of classical & Renaissance inspired ornamental craftsmanship.

The first hotel to occupy the building was the Knickerbocker Hotel & Saloon till 1910. In 1911 the hotel reopened and operated under the name “New Hotel Keller” till 1929 (from 1929 to 1993 the hotel was listed under the name Keller Abington Hotel).

By 1939 it became Renee Tavern which housed mostly transient sailors of all nationalities till 1949. In 1950 the space became Charles Bar & Grill and stay open till 1955. The mid 1950’s to early 1960’s saw the decline of the maritime industry on the and moved to Brooklyn & where there was more space. During this time Keller’s Bar opened in 1956 and catered to an all male leather biker clientele and was the first gay leather bar in New York City pre Stonewall and .

Keller’s was also known as the birthplace of Disco in the early 1970’s and the Village People were photographed in front of Keller’s for an album cover. Unlike the 1970’s, by the mid to late 1980’s Keller’s catered more to a Latino and African-American clientle. Keller’s continued open till 1998 and the building itself was land-marked November 14, 2006 by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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Original 1970’s photograph of Keller’s Bar on West street in New York City

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