In the 1910s, the block of MacDougal Street just south of Washington Square emerged as a cultural and social center of Greenwich Village’s Bohemian set, with the Liberal Club, radical feminist Heterodoxy Club, Washington Square Bookshop, and Provincetown Playhouse, a serious amateur theater. By the 1920s, the Village became one of the first neighborhoods in New York that allowed, and gradually accepted, an open gay and lesbian presence. This block was an important LGBT nucleus, especially after a series of police crackdowns on spots elsewhere in the Village in 1924 and 1925.
Historian George Chauncey discovered one such place on the block, a popular gay and lesbian friendly tearoom at 129 MacDougal Street, run in 1925 and 1926, by Eve Adams, a Polish-Jewish émigré whose real name was Chawe Zlocsewer (with other variations, such as Chawa Zloczower, Eva Kotchever, or Eva Czlotcheber). Though her adopted name has been cited as “Eve Addams,” historian Jonathan Ned Katz, in his forthcoming book, The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams, uncovered a 1919 newspaper article with her last name spelled “Adams.” She lived at 38 Washington Square West, a block north of the tearoom.
The tearoom was located in the basement of the MacDougal Street building. Variety, perhaps promoting the stereotype of lesbians as “man-haters,” reported, most likely false, that the tearoom entrance had a sign that read, “Men are admitted, but not welcome.”
Years after it closed, a Village columnist in 1931 reminisced that Zlocsewer’s club was “one of the most delightful hang-outs the Village ever had.”
In 1926, after on-going surveillance by the police and biased reports from a neighbor, she was arrested and convicted of obscenity (for Lesbian Love, a collection of her short stories self-published in 1925) and disorderly conduct (for alleged attempted sex with a policewomen sent to entrap her). She was then deported and sent back to Europe.
Zlocsewer lived in Paris and Nice, France, selling books and magazines. In December 1943, she was arrested and then transported to Auschwitz-Bireknau, the work and extermination camp in Germany, where she was murdered.