City Seeks Community Input on Conversion of Abandoned Baruch Bathhouse

Posted on: March 5th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Photo: Robert Carmona

Now approaching its 117th birthday, the Baruch Bathhouse, nicknamed the “White House” by NYCHA-dwellers, may soon return to the ranks of the living after decades of dormancy. Indeed, the facility hasn’t been utilized since the city cemented the place shut in 1975.

Well, the Parks Department is looking to issue a “Request for Expression of Interest” (RFEI) for the abandoned structure, the first step in exploring design ideas for potential reuse. The subject of its potential conversion will be heard at the Community Board 3 subcommittee for parks matters later this month.

“We’re interested in what uses the community would like to see for the Baruch Bathhouse,” a Parks Department spokesperson told us in an email. “That’s what we’re hoping to learn at the [CB3] meeting.”

This building has been through a lot. At the behest of Dr. Simon Baruch, a former surgeon in the Confederate army and physician in the Lower East Side slums, the city completed and opened the Rivington Street Bathhouse at 326 Rivington Street in March 1901. It was the first free public bathhouse of its kind, and featured an indoor and outdoor bathing pool, 45 showers and 5 tubs for men, as well as 22 showers and 5 tubs for women. The bathhouse was apparently such a success that long lines in the summer of 1906 nearly caused a riot.

Opening day at Baruch Bathhouse, Photo: NYC Parks

The facility was renamed in honor of Baruch in 1917, four years before his death.

In 1939, the doctor’s son, Bernard Baruch, donated to the city most of the land on which the current park sits. A year later, the bathhouse was renovated and playground built on the site. However, the Parks Department eventually shuttered the the building in 1975 during the city’s financial crisis because it had become “too dilapidated to operate.” It never reopened.

Embarrassingly, it’s been reported that NYCHA employees allegedly don’t know what the building is, or once was. “I’ve never seen anyone in there,” one custodian previously told Curbed. “No clue what it’s supposed to be used for.”

Recent Stories

Truck Versus Tree on Clinton Street [PHOTOS]

Clinton Street just lost one of its mature trees. Last week, a truck driver (with a Bud Light trailer) collided with a tree on the east side between Rivington and Stanton, blocking the road with fallen foliage. It handily snapped the trunk.

Going Inside the Jarmulowsky Bank Hotel [PHOTOS]

As part of its area charm offensive, DLJ Real Estate Partners recently opened the doors to the Jarmulowsky Bank Building during its conversion to posh boutique hotel. The iconic Beaux Arts-style landmark has been under renovations for nigh on six years already, resulting in a new construction next door and the addition of a replica rooftop […]

Century-Old Tattoo and Flash Ephemera at the South Street Seaport Museum

Daredevil Tattoo is hosting a can’t miss event with the South Street Seaport Museum. We have been documenting the history of tattooing on the Bowery for years; this event is making history all its own. Gus Wagner flash just for you. From the sea merchant-cum-tattoo artist and most artistically marked-up man in America. Seriously. You […]

Luscious Jackson Singer has Solo Art Exhibition at 198 Allen Street

Fans of Luscious Jackson will be happy to hear that New York City’s own Jill Cuniff has an art show happening all weekend at 198 Allen Street. The Luscious Jackson singer-songwriter/bassist unveils “Lyric and Word Paintings” at the perennial pop-up tonight, showcasing a collection of abstract watercolor and mixed media paintings, some of which feature some […]

Rent Hike Forces Häagen-Dazs Out of Chinatown After 41 Years

The longstanding Häagen-Dazs ice creamery in Chinatown will soon close its doors at the corner of Bayard and Mott Streets. The store has been at 53 Mott Street since 1977. A purported rent hike is the culprit, ending the decades-long tenure. The $10,000-per-month lease is up November 30, which doubles as the final day in […]