Rock ’n’ renovation; Webster Hall is set to close for overhaul

Webster Hall, on E. 11th St. between Third and Fourth Aves., has been a major event space since the 1800s. Photos by Scott R. Axelrod

BY SCOTT R. AXELROD | Webster Hall, the renowned, longstanding East Village club and concert venue, will close Aug. 9, as the landmarked building will soon be flying the corporate ownership flag of Barclays / AEG / Bowery Presents.

And while the place will be rebranded and its interior renovated — exactly how is still unclear — no specific date for a relaunch has been announced. Rumors persist that the rehab work will last for roughly the next two years.

Gerard McNamee, Webster Hall’s director of operations, took to Facebook to urge regulars — and everyone else — to come out for one last into-the-wee-hours club night on Sat., Aug. 5.

“Sad but true, the legendary and world-famous Webster Hall has been sold and will close as we know it for its final club night,” McNamee said. “I highly recommend that you all stop by before the end of this era to pay your respects to [club owners] the Ballingers and the building for providing us with a lifetimes worth of memories. There are only 12 club nights left. Please come celebrate our rich 25-year history of being the biggest, baddest and longest-running nightclub in the history of New York City.”

The building was constructed in 1886 and an addition in similar style was tacked on in 1892. One of New York’s most significant theater and event venues, it has hosted entertainment and social events since its earliest days, and operated as a club through Prohibition. It was during the 1980s that the venue, rechristened The Ritz, served to introduce or reintroduce rock fans to the likes of Aerosmith, Prince, Public Image Ltd, Iggy Pop, Depeche Mode, Guns N’ Roses, U2, Run-DMC, Ozzy Osbourne, The English Beat, The Dictators, Parliament-Funkadelic, UB40, Bo Diddley, Danzig, Kiss and even Tina Turner.

Webster Hall will be closing next month for a major renovation under its new corporate owners.

Renamed once again as Webster Hall in 1992, bands like Metallica, Green Day and Nine Inch Nails took to performing there in what could be called a considerably more intimate setting than their typical stadium shows. In fact, Nine Inch Nails, who had already performed a highly touted Webster Hall set in 1994, returned in 2009 to perform the entirety of their “The Downward Spiral” album. In 2014, grunge heroes Soundgarden, led by recently deceased frontman Chris Cornell, did the same to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their album “Superunknown” — for a mere $20 a ticket.

While it’s still a mystery as to what the venue will look and sound like in the future, current Webster Hall stagehands Ian Hamilton and Andrew Bilder, along with collaborator Mariana Trevino, have launched a Kickstarter campaign in the hopes of raising funds to produce a documentary to tell the tale of the storied venue through those who showed up, lined up, danced and moshed many a night away at Webster Hall.

From left, Mariana Trevino, Andrew Bilder and Ian Hamilton, started a Kickstarter campaign together to raise money to produce a documentary about the history of Webster Hall.

“Everyone is just shocked that it’s closing,” Hamilton said. “People who show up week after week feel as if their lives are now up in the air.”

One regular, upon hearing the news, told the trio that she simply won’t be going out anymore. While one could presume she meant she’d be hanging up her clubbing clothes, as opposed to becoming a hermit, it is said that everyone handles traumatic loss differently.

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