TAVERN ON THE GREEN
"On the western edge of New York City's Central Park, where the bustle of west sixty-seventh Street yields to 843 tranquil acres of open space, perches a majestic building unlike any other. It is a destination, a showplace, a visual treasure. To approach this gathering place in the early evening is to be swept into a twinkling wonderland of towering trees, wrapped from the tips of their branches to the base of their trunks in more than ten miles of tiny white lights. To amble through its glittering mirrored hallways, and to be seated in one of the six elaborate dining rooms for an unforgettable meal, is a down-the-rabbit-hole experience, one that attracts luminaries and wide-eyed tourists alike."
So reads the opening paragraph of the handsome new book written by Jennifer Oz LeRoy and Kay LeRoy celebrating the legendary New York restaurant... Tavern on the Green. Created in the depth of the Depression from a sheepfold built half a century earlier, Tavern on the Green was already a well established dining spot when, in the early 1970's, Warner LeRoy stepped in. Fresh on the heels of his extraordinarily successful first Manhattan restaurant - Maxwell's Plum - Warner was already being described as "New York's mad genius" by noted critic Paul Goldberger of the New York Times.
Growing up as the son of Mervyn LeRoy who was best known as the producer and uncredited director of The Wizard of Oz, Warner's Hollywood upbringing proved the ideal training ground for the person who came to be thought of as NYC's grandest showman. When he took over Tavern, Warner and his wife Kay, immediately closed the landmark restaurant's doors for an unheard of $10 million, multi-year facelift.
Just as a brilliant Monarch butterfly emerges from its drab cocoon, in August of 1976 Tavern on the Green re-opened. Its breathtaking rooms dazzled sophisticated New Yorkers and visitors alike. Though the list of the great and famous who passed through the Tavern's canopied entrance could fill pages, suffice it to say that John Lennon annually strolled to the Tavern from his nearby Dakota residence for his birthday parties. Sparkling antique crystal chandeliers trickled down from vaulted ceilings while massive art nouveau mirrors reflected the lush park surroundings just outside the greenhouse-like walls. Stained-glass creations of century-old Tiffany glass produced intense rainbows of color matched only by cascading floral arrangements flowing from every corner. Joyful topiary peeked in from the gardens just beyond. The total effect, from that day to this, remains stunning.
But now the LeRoy era is coming to an end. And the fabulous antiques and the extraordinary creations all will be sold. The Baccarat crystal chandeliers will be sold. The fabulous stained glass will be sold. Copper weathervanes and stone sculpture will be sold. The outdoor garden furniture and Japanese lanterns, so much a trademark of the Tavern of the Green will be sold. The place settings that were part of so many wonderful dinners will be sold. Even the beautiful canvas murals on the walls will carefully come down and find new owners.
As if this isn't by itself an extraordinary offering, treasures from Warner LeRoy's 1960's-era extravaganza - Maxwell's Plum - and NYC's Russian Tea Room which Warner LeRoy once owned will be included in a remarkable multi-day auction without minimum reserve. The auction preview will start on January 6th and continue for a week. The auction itself will begin on Wednesday, January 13th and continue through Thursday, the 14th, being held live at Tavern on the Green. An auction day open to the public but geared largely to the trade - restaurateurs, designers, architects, etc. - will be held about a week later (the date will be announced shortly) at Tavern's Long Island City warehouse.
The auction will be a celebration of the joy-filled years Tavern has provided. And if you were one of the millions who have treasured memories of great times at the restaurant, you may well want to be at the sale. If, on the other hand, you just can't possibly attend, you can bid in absentia via the telephone, email or internet. The Tavern on the Green Auction... an on-site event sure to be almost as memorable as the great restaurant itself.
Some of the auction categories:
• Magnificent chandeliers
• Extraordinary stained-glass creations utilizing antique Tiffany glass including many stunning shades, beautiful windows, and the complete glass ceilings of Maxwell's Plum and the Russian Tea Room
• Many copper weathervanes
• Large etched glass mirrors and Venetian glass
• Massive, beautiful murals
• Smaller works of art of many descriptions
• Fine quality restaurant silverware, china, glassware and linens
• Fabulous holiday decorations
• Famous outdoor topiaries
• Garden furniture
The Auction will take place in Tavern on the Green's magnificent Crystal Room:
67th Street and Central Park West, New York City.