By Mark Hallum
Historic Neir’s Tavern was the victim of a burglary Sept. 10, when just after closing time a side door was forced open and cash was removed from the ATM and the register, according to the police. About $925 was pulled from the drawer while an unknown amount was taken from the cash machine. The investigation was continuing.
Owner Loycent Gordon confirmed the theft in an email blast to fans of the Woodhaven watering hole. The tavern is famous for its ties to the earliest development of the community in the first half of the 19th century and for the brief role it played in the filming of the classic Mafia film “Goodfellas.”
Enthusiasts of the establishment have been pushing for landmark status since the spot was taken over and some renovations were made, but the Landmarks Preservation Commission shot down the application for official historic recognition in May 2016.
“Many of our avid supporters who come to Neir’s on a regular basis might have noticed some of the damages and our efforts to return to normal. We cannot allow a few bad apples to give a black eye to an overall great community,” Gordon said. “Sadly, no person or neighborhood is immune. We must ensure we look out for each other.”
Built in the 1820s at 87-48 78th St., Neir’s represents what little remains of the Union Race Course, which was Woodhaven’s main attraction at the time. The tavern was adjacent to the track. Gordon, a firefighter and business owner, has pushed for several years to get Neir’s the recognition and protection he says it deserves. According to Gordon, the LPC response to the application was in sum, “Neir’s Tavern does not rise to the level of significance to warrant landmark status.” The response went on to say that giving the tavern landmark status would not protect it from future development.
“It has given us more drive to to carry on the good fight for you, for landmark, for historical recognition, and to bring kind people like you together under the Neir’s Tavern community umbrella,” Gordon said in the email.
The building, for the most part, stands as it always has with a pressed tin ceiling and wall coverings, wood floors worn smooth and equally aged outdoor siding.
Elected officials such as state Sen. Joseph Addabbo (D-Howard Beach) and Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village) were both behind the movement to have building recognized by the LPC as a historic landmark. They contended that with rapid and sometimes predatory development happening all over the city, the important thing is to preserve the places which have made Queens what it is today.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall