Sunday, November 02, 2008

Bohemian National Hall Grand Opening!

Last night was the grand opening of the rededicated Bohemian National Hall at 321-325 East 73rd Street in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan, historically a major Czech and Slovak area.

The building was built between 1895 and 1897 by architect William C. Frohne as a cultural and community center for New York’s Czech and Slovak communities. After closing in 1986 and falling into disrepair, the building was bought by the Czech government from the Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Association in 2001, and renovations were undertaken by Czech-American architect Jan Hird Pokorny, along with another Czech-American architect, Martin Holub.

As of last night, the
Czech Consulate General and the Czech Center have moved into the building, from their landmark building at 1109 Madison Avenue. The exhibition space there is intended to remain open to the public as an annex to the Czech Center.

At 1109 Madison Avenue, the exhibit Check Stories of the 8 runs through 3 November, and Catherine Cabaniss – Recent Work will open on 6 November with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. That exhibit will be on view through 31 December.

The Czech Center gallery on the second floor of Bohemian National Hall is featuring an exhibit, Check Places, Memory Traces, through 19 December. The exhibit focuses on the rennovation of the building, interspersing historical artifacts that present the building in the context of Czech and Czech-American history. An extensive catalogue for the exhibit was produced and is available at the Czech Center.

Also making their home in the newly refurbished Bohemian National Hall are the Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Society and the Dvorak American Heritage Association. Through 8 November, the Bohemian Benevolent & Literary Society is featuring an exhibit Some of Us, in its third floor space. The exhibit presents some of the victims of communism in Czechoslovakia on the 60th annversary of the brutal repression of 1968's Prague Spring.

Beyond all this, the building also features a small cinema, a major ballroom and a roof terrace. A bid has recently been put out for a restaurant planned for the first floor, which is expected to be open soon.
A 1987 Cityscape column by Christopher Gray in The New York Times tells the tale of the building, and Slavs of New York recently published a walking tour of Yorkville that features the building.

On Sunday, 16 November, the
Municipal Arts Society is organizing a walking tour that will take in not only Bohemian National Hall but also nearby Sokol Hall (420 East 71st Street between First Avenue and York), led by Joe Svehlak, a Czech-American urban historian. The tour meets at 11:00 a.m. at the southeast corner of First Avenue and 71st Street, and costs $15.00.

1 comment:

Jon - The DC Traveler said...

The Czech Embassy in Washington, DC often puts on cultural events and dinners form time to time. Might make a fun weekend trip from the Big Apple.