|101 Seventh Avenue South today|
Location: 101 Seventh Avenue South (at Grove Street), New York, New York, USA
Opened/Closed: late 1970s/early 1980s
This is actually a bar I remember personally. My friend Bonnie and I would sometimes make the haul down to New York for dinner and a trip to the Duchess. Ah, the good old days....
A gay history timeline for Greenwich/West Village says this about the Duchess:
1980 Popular late '70s/early '80s lesbian hangout Duchess (101 Seventh Ave. South at Grove St.) begins coming under attack from state liquor license inspectors, reportedly refused service after they charmed the bartender with refrains of "Come on girlie, give us a drink."
Radical Walking Tours New York City (2011) provides additional detail:
One hundred-one Seventh Avenue South was a famous lesbian bar called the Duchess, until then-mayor Ed Koch took its liquor license away in the 80s by using the anti-discrimination laws against it, effectively closing it down.
Interesting paradox here, in that Ed Koch was widely rumored to be a closeted gay man--even in the day. Of course with his recent death, the rumors flew once again.
In a book of essays called Love, Christopher Street: Reflections of New York City, reviewer Andrew Holleran mentions a piece by Christopher Bram with the following Duchess reference:
Christopher Bram gives us a more recent history by simply describing the tenants of his apartment building on Perry Street over the last thirty years, and, in his introduction, some of the changes the rest of the Village has undergone. Take, for example, the genealogy of a lesbian bar called The Grove. The Grove amounted to salvation for the Scottish mystery writer Val McDermid when she came to New York from a country where there were no bars for women, much less anything like the Village. The Grove, which later became the Duchess, Bram tells us, is now a vitamin store.
It appears the former vitamin store is now a cupcake place. The beat goes on....