New York’s Everard Baths fire


The Starry Eye | 14411

In 1973, a large part of the fourth floor of New York’s Everard gay bath house was gutted by fire. Repairs were made.

Then on May 25, 1977 nine customers ages 17 to 40 were killed in a second, worse fire: seven died from smoke inhalation, one from respiratory burns, and one jumped from an upper floor. The deteriorating condition of the building and lack of sprinklers made the fire and the casualties worse. Firefighters said they were thwarted in rescue efforts by the panelling over the windows. Between 80 and 100 patrons escaped the fire; most of the victims were identified by friends rather than family. Their names are: Hillman Wesley Adams, 40, South Plains, NJ; Amado Alamo, 17, Manhattan; Anthony Calarco, age unknown, The Bronx; Kenneth Hill, 38, Manhattan; Brian Duffy, 30, no address known; Patrick Knott, 38, Manhattan; Ira Landau, 32, Manhattan; Yosef Signovec, 30, a Czeck refugee whose address is unknown; and James Charles Stuard, 30, Manhattan.

The fire at the Everard Baths is documented in two books, Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran and Faggots by Larry Kramer. The bath did re-open after the fire, only to be closed down in early 1986 as a response to the Aids epidemic.

The Everard began life as a church, then converted into a brewery and then converted again into a bath house in 1888. There were cubicles. On November 28, 1898 a soldier was found dead in his cubicle at the baths, gas was suspected to be the cause.

In 1919 and 1920 there were a series of raids on the baths in which a manager and twenty customers were arrested for lewd behaviour. By the 1920s the Everard was a major gay venue in New York.

Updated 22 November 2014: Two photographs no longer available due to withdrawal of websites.



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