Fire Island's Cherry Grove Comm. House and Theater Added to Nat'l Register


By Neal Broverman

New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand helps protect this piece of gay history.

The U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service placed Fire Island's Cherry Grove Community House and Theater on the National Register of Historic Places, New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced Monday.

The move, pushed by LGBT-supporter Gillibrand, will help preserve the community house and theater, built in 1945 and 1948, respectively.

"This is great news," Gillibrand said in a statement. "The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater represents the first civic entity to integrate gay and lesbian interests into governance and social life. I am thrilled that this historic site, the first civil rights organization for the LGBT community, is finally acknowledged for their contributions."

The Cherry Grove Community House and Theater played a huge role in gay performing arts, serving as the first American venue to feature productions for gay people by gay people (and their straight friends!). Luminaries like Carson McCullers and Richard Avedon frequented the gathering spot, which served as a center of queer culture for decades.

The community house and theater, which is raising money for a $600,000 renovation, is only the second LGBT venue to be placed on the national register, with Manhattan's Stonewall Inn being the first.