Fire Island | New York | Nightlife

Historic Fire Island Pines Pavilion Razed


A legend is destroyed.

Crews began taking apart the historic Pavilion nightclub at Fire Island Pines over the weekend of September 23 in preparation for the construction of a new structure which will incorporate retail shops, a lounge, and a new nightclub. It is set to be finished in time for next year's summer season.

Towleroad correspondent Dean Kurth sends the following exclusive shots, which to those who have spent many a night cocktailing at the Pavilion at tea and late night dance parties, may prove to be quite a shock.

Pv2 Pv3

For a short history of the Pavilion, which was built up around a former club called The Sandpiper (one current Pines resident told me that as the workmen were destroying the walls of the current structure, the walls of part of the old Sandpiper began to reveal themselves.

There's a discussion about the Sandpiper and Pavilion and some of its past ownership history here. If anyone has anything to add about the Pavilion's history or reminiscences, please do so in the comments!



Pv6 Pv7


The Pavilion is really the architectural and social anchor of Fire Island Pines. It (or its predecessor, the Sandpiper) has been mentioned in several novels from Andrew Holleran's Dancer from the Dance to Edmund White's Forgetting Elena. I'm sure there are others as well.

Shots above by Towleroad correspondent Dean Kurth. (Must credit both).

I was able to see the beginning of the destruction when I was out there (when it looked much like the shot below, sent to Towleroad by Karen Boss)


A few more interior shots after the jump.

Photo by Karen Boss.

And the following photos were sent to me anonymously:






Note the famed chandelier in the final photo, surely a relic that deserves preservation.

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  1. Wow... I didn't make it out this year, and this is quite a shock. So many good times spent in that old building -- or, at least, so I'm told. I don't actually remember most of them ;)

    Posted by: Glenn | Sep 28, 2006 9:51:10 AM

  2. Glenn, I double that. I think it was fun. Maybe some of my friends that were with me at the time can tell me if it was :)

    Posted by: Andrew | Sep 28, 2006 10:37:46 AM

  3. Knowing how construction time relates to any construction schedule out there, I hope anyone with a share next summer has a lot of knitting and decoupaging that they want to get done.

    Posted by: 24play | Sep 28, 2006 10:50:49 AM

  4. Hey! I hope they put a Starbucks in its place!

    Posted by: Marc | Sep 28, 2006 11:31:26 AM

  5. American Apparel and Starbucks are both scheduled to open seasonal summer locations on Fire Island. Can we also get a Whole Foods?

    Posted by: Astro | Sep 28, 2006 11:45:58 AM

  6. WHAT? Has there been a reason announced for this? I'm stunned, just stunned.

    Posted by: kitchenbeard | Sep 28, 2006 11:54:04 AM

  7. Two reasons:

    1) The place was a shithole. (Warm memories notwithstanding.)

    2) The new owners apparently don't subscribe to longtime owner John Whyte's philosophy of, "It's the only game in town, so fuck ’em if they think it's a dump. They're still gonna show up and I'm still gonna get paid."

    Posted by: 24play | Sep 28, 2006 12:09:49 PM

  8. Wow, yes, quite a shocker. I worked out at the Blue Whale 12 years ago and went to the Pavillion almost every night for the obligatory after-shift cocktail.

    Good riddance, I say - that place was such a dump. I wonder if the Ms. Whyte is still with us; she was a piece of work. But, it was kind of cool to have the old guard of John, Patsy (the manager at the ratty Botel, which I hope is next in the demolition queu) Desmond (the chef at the BW) and Dick (the crotchety old bartender), recounting their glory days of NYC and Fire Island in the 60's and 70's. There's a movie to be made based on those four.

    Anyone, looking forward to seeing what's next. Too bad about the chain stores.

    Posted by: Tammy Whynot | Sep 28, 2006 1:30:57 PM

  9. I think John Whyte died not long after he sold the properties, didn't he?

    Posted by: Glenn | Sep 28, 2006 1:33:08 PM

  10. wow....a complete shock, but overdue for the renovation......I just remember my first encounter in the bathroom there back in '82, then in '83, '84, '85....etc ;-)

    Posted by: Johnny | Sep 28, 2006 1:35:50 PM

  11. Yes, John Whyte went off to that big casting call in the sky within a few months of the sale.

    I hope heaven has chandeliers, or he's not gonna find it glamorous enough.

    Posted by: 24play | Sep 28, 2006 2:03:03 PM

  12. Kids, the chains are a joke! Plus they already do serve Starbucks!

    Posted by: bklynnyc | Sep 28, 2006 2:24:15 PM

  13. the final phase of the new Pines harbor revamp. And long overdue. It's easy to get attached to things out there, everything tends to get wrapped in that magic Pines glow, but the harbor was in disrepair and outdated long ago. I'm anxious to see what they do with the area, I already like the cosmetic changes they have made to the front part of the harbor.

    Posted by: Aatom | Sep 28, 2006 3:31:39 PM

  14. That place deserved to be torn down after all the shitty music which was played this summer (especially the night Junior was there. That guy has REALLY lost it.)

    Posted by: Bill | Sep 28, 2006 4:39:58 PM

  15. That place deserved to be torn down after all the shitty music which was played there this summer (especially the night Junior was there. That guy has REALLY lost it.)

    Posted by: Bill | Sep 28, 2006 4:41:10 PM

  16. Fond memories notwithstanding, the entire structure was a mess twenty years ago and has only gotten worse with time. The ventilation was lousy, the bathrooms were way underequipped, the lighting was awful, the layout was choppy, and the structure itself was charm-free. The Sandpiper, from what I understand, was at least cute, the Pavilion was as un-cute as you could get. They'd be hard pressed to come up with something worse in its place.

    Posted by: mcquaidla | Sep 28, 2006 5:21:37 PM

  17. This place sucked from the day it opened (in 1980 I believe). We used to call it "the box the (then new) big ferry came in." Everybody missed the Sandpiper. Hopefully the new place won't be a haven for Day Trippers.

    Posted by: Tom from L.A. | Sep 28, 2006 7:45:04 PM

  18. I'm surprised it didn't burn down long ago (but for the condensation that collected on the walls thanks to the poor venitlation). I remember being charged $50 to just walk in the door on a normal Saturday night once. The best thing about it (apart from the creepy chandelier) was the regular supply of G-overdoses it produced that would require an airlift. I'd always giggle in bed when I'd hear the chopper coming.

    Posted by: Brad | Sep 29, 2006 2:13:49 AM

  19. Top 10 Things I will never forget:

    Actually, it's near impossible for me to remember. I did way too many drugs.

    Posted by: Brian | Sep 29, 2006 2:04:39 PM

  20. I'll never forget the downfall of DJ Michael Fearman.

    After years of being considered the Godfather of the Pavilion DJ's, he was so high on K one evening that his set was impossible to listen to. Jumpy, edgy and down-right wrong.

    The crowd became so angry (it was fucking with our drugs) that everyone stopped dancing at the same time and litterally threw there water bottles at the DJ booth. The lights went up and the club was closed down for the rest of the evening (1:30am).

    People who were there still talk about it.

    Posted by: Tony | Sep 29, 2006 2:09:28 PM

  21. I remember standing on the upper deck of the pavillion in the middle of the night with my boyfriend looking out over the moon lit harbor. We had just come up for some much needed air.

    I was feeling a bit insecure about myself, given the sheer beauty in that hall below. My boyfriend took me in his arms, looked me in the eyes and said, "out of everyone in this world, I chose you." It's ranks as one of the very best memories I will ever know.

    Even that last scene in Now, Voyager can't trump that!

    Posted by: Steven | Sep 29, 2006 2:15:16 PM

  22. I was a bartender at that wonderful place when it become the pavilon. Boy do i have some stories. The COUNT CHARLES was the owner. I though i was the only still living .

    Posted by: RANDY SEXTON | Sep 29, 2006 2:22:10 PM

  23. They actually NEEDED to tear it down before it collapsed. As was noted in the text, the building was originally the sandpiper, and like so many other buildings (and stories) out there, it just kept getting added onto and expanded over the years. The original structure was badly rotted -remember, harsh winters, hot, humid summers, coastal location, etc.- and everything else was built onto and over that structure. Hopefully whatever replaces it will be nice, though they will be changing the layout and traffic flow somewhat. And I wouldn't mind an American Apparel over the scholck they currently sell there ;)

    Posted by: Paul | Sep 29, 2006 4:57:47 PM

  24. Guys, trust me... it was time. I am acquainted with the owners, and they're interested in making the Pines a better place. The structure was a hazard, and it's time for some new places/faces in the Pines, which is now in a renewal from the pretty poison days of the late 80's and most of the 90's. By the way, nearly all the rentals are already gone for Summer 2007. That speaks volumes itself. A NYC Gay Summer is all about the Pines...

    Posted by: FCBIV | Sep 29, 2006 5:45:04 PM

  25. Well, an era is over. I have good and bad memories of the Pavillion, one of which I met my lover there and we have been together since. A lot of fun was had there. The Island has changed a great deal especially in these past three years. It seems calmer except for the Jack Russells who were traded in for KIDS! Yikes!

    Posted by: ROBBYF | Sep 29, 2006 5:59:39 PM

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