As Grieve reported yesterday, the White House hostel, nee flophouse, has closed forever on the Bowery. The building has been sold and it looks like the 97-year-old place will be demolished, replaced by a 9-story hotel.
Awhile back, I went in to take a look around before it vanished.
The old Bowery men were mostly gone, just a few "permanent" residents remained. The long, narrow corridors were quiet, except for some snoring.
In 2009, the Times visited the White House before it had been turned into a tourist hostel. They described the lobby: "Residents sit hunched over cans of soda or cups of coffee, eyes closed or staring, lost in silence. A man in a wheelchair whose left leg ends in a stump below the knee can often be found there, listening to music on earphones."
By the time I got there, the lobby was full of young foreign tourists clicking away on laptops. The Bowery men had been bought out for little money, sent away.
Signs still warned, "NO SPITTING."
Guest rooms remained claustrophobic flophouse cubicles, 4' x 6' of paper-thin walls and no ceilings. Inside, I could hear the next-door neighbor's raspy breathing.
The White House was opened in 1917 by a man named Euzebius Ghelardi. They still have a ledger dating back to 1918--hopefully, to be preserved. Maybe it'll end up in this rich guy's basement with the rest of the vanished Bowery.