Parks Department Soliciting Input to Repurpose Abandoned Baruch Bathhouse

Posted on: October 10th, 2018 at 5:10 am by

Photo: Robert Carmona

For 43 years, the building sat dormant. Now, the second coming of the long-vacant Baruch Bathhouse is in its early stages. But first, more brainstorming and red tape.

The city’s Parks Department returns to Community Board 3 tonight to further discuss the Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI), as well as timeline for the ultimate Request for Proposals, for the much anticipated conversion project. It’s the first step in exploring design ideas for potential reuse of the relic.

The matter first appeared on the board’s agenda last March.

In the meantime, the advisory body organized a task force charged with overseeing its conversion.

“Parks will be engaging the CB3-convened community task force group to discuss and obtain feedback and guidance from in order to draft the RFEI,” a Parks spokesperson tells us.

The building, conceived as the Rivington Street Bathhouse and nicknamed by locals as the White House, dates back 117 years.

Opening day at Baruch Bathhouse, Photo: NYC Parks

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 facility 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.

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.

Recent Stories

‘Empire Gyro’ Readies 24-Hour Allen Street Eatery for Christmastime Debut

The tradition of 24-hour eateries at the southeast corner of Allen and East Houston continues with Empire Gyro. The new fast food Mediterranean spot, which takes over from the utilitarian Sugar Cafe, has been building out 200 Allen Street since early October. The menu is somewhat predictable, featuring soups, salads, kebabs, and shawarma. Empire Gyro […]

Neighborhood Group Prepares Lawsuit Against City Over Two Bridges Towers

“The City is trying to violate its own law to approve the luxury towers on the Two Bridges waterfront,” announces a flyer from the Lower East Side Organized Neighbors. Mere days after City Council leveled a lawsuit against the City Planning Commission for green-lighting the trio of skyscrapers, more such opposition is in store. The […]

14th Street Residents Shine Light on Health Concerns During L-Train Renovations

Ongoing work on the Canarsie Tunnel repair has created gridlock along East 14th Street. So much so, that neighbors and elected officials are banging the drum about the effects on the surrounding neighborhood. And have been for the better part of the last year. Yesterday morning, Assemblyman Harvey Epstein rallied with area neighbors outside the […]

Iconic ‘Pearl River Mart’ to Run Shop at Museum of Chinese in America

Chinatown classic Pearl River Mart, which was on the brink just a couple years ago, has since rebounded and just joined forces with the Museum of Chinese in America. The collaboration – the MOCA Shop – will debut on February 5, timed to coincide with the Lunar New Year. Founded in SoHo in 1971 by […]

‘Vivi Bubble Tea’ Cafe on Allen Street Shuttered by DOH [Updated]

Vivi Bubble Tea on Allen Street recently had a run-in with the Department of Health. Inspectors visited the four-year-old Chinatown import in mid-October, and dropped the hammer big time. The franchise fell victim to 79 violation points largely due to vermin and lack of sanitization. It was closed for business for several weeks with brown […]