Tavern on the Green
Location: Central Park West & West 67th Street, Central Park
The Sheepfold in Central Park, constructed in the latter half of the 19th century at the same time as the Tweed Courthouse on Chambers Street (now home to the New York City Department of Education) is one of the City's finest examples of Victorian Gothic architecture and one of the Park's most treasured landmarked buildings. Presently a restaurant named Tavern on the Green, the building is the best surviving work of the British architect and ornamentalist, Jacob Wrey Mould (1825-1886).
Mould is also responsible for other Park treasures including the carvings and the Minton tile arcade at Bethesda Terrace, the pavilions at Belvedere Castle, and many of the Park's ornamental bridges, designed in collaboration with Calvert Vaux.
Constructed of "the best Colobaugh brick," local granite, and blue and gray Malden stone, the decorative elements of the building's facade are still intact despite twentieth century additions. The original U-shaped building had three elements: the Sheepfold proper (now the open air terrace and glassed-in Crystal Room); the residence of the Keeper and his men; and the open Loggie and their balconies. The northern and southern extremities of the building faced "the Green," which became known, appropriately, as the Sheep Meadow. The present windows, flanked by red granite columns and decorative stone and tilework, may have once been part of the open air structure. The interior and possibly exterior flooring was originally paved with Minton encaustic tiles. Completing the compound, adjacent to the main building were barns and lofts for storage of feed for the sheep.
The preliminary sketch for the building was published in the First Annual Report of the Department of Public Parks of 1871. Many construction drawings for the building are in the Municipal Archives of the City of New York.
Parks Commissioner Robert Moses converted the Sheepfold (which actually housed 200 South Down sheep that grazed across the street) into a restaurant named Tavern on the Green, which opened to the public on October 20, 1934. New Yorkers quickly embraced this new eatery and it soon became an integral part of the City's social life. From the late 1930s until 1943, the restaurant was closed and the building was used as the headquarters for the Civilian Patrol Corps. The restaurant reopened in 1943 under new management and was renovated into a year-round facility. By the 1950s, the structure was showing some wear and tear and underwent a further renovation by the designer Raymond Loewy. At that time the restaurant had been expanded to serve more than 1,200 diners and the number of parking spaces was doubled. A succession of management companies operated the restaurant until well-known New York restaurateur Warner LeRoy acquired the license in 1973. The revitalized restaurant became a popular destination for tourists and New Yorkers alike.
Contract Start: 4/24/2014
Contract End: 4/23/2024