Just how did the Ear Inn, which celebrates its bicentennial this year, get that peculiar name?
For decades, patrons called the unnamed Hudson Square watering hole The Green Door after its entryway. Then former road manager Martin Sheridan and Richard Hayman bought the business in 1977 and made a cosmetic adjustment to the existing neon “BAR” sign. Painting over the B’s curves, they christened their establishment the Ear Inn and sidestepped a lengthy Landmark Preservation Commission review process.
It’s that creative spirit Sheridan, 67, hopes to preserve at his tavern and in his neighborhood. ”Over the years, we’ve had so many artists, poets, writers,” the first-generation Irish immigrant said. “It’s a place you can still bring your music, your art, your poetry,” he added, noting the Ear Inn still hosts live music three nights a week, as well as poetry readings and art exhibitions.
As a performance venue and haunt for locals, Ear Inn offers all the props you could hope for: lining the walls is an eclectic collection of historic memorabilia, many items of a nautical nature and many donated by regular customers — including an old diving helmet, at least two captain’s wheels, centuries-old glass gallon jugs, an X-ray receptionist sign and a plastic, larger-than-life ear.
On Saturday, the pub celebrated its 200th anniversary by throwing a block party with live music, food and drinks. (All proceeds from the day went toward toward the Ear Inn’s effort to help raise $350,000 for the nonprofit God’s Love We Deliver, which is using the money to feed the hungry in lower Manhattan.)
In honor of that occasion, Sheridan gave us a thorough lesson on the history of his pub, which all began with the construction of the building at 326 Spring St. in 1817.