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Checkmate! Central Park's Restored Chess and Checkers House Unveils a Player's Paradise

Central Park in New York City has once again become a go-to destination for chess and checkers enthusiasts, thanks to the restoration of the beloved Chess and Checkers House. After enduring four decades of wear and tear, this iconic establishment has undergone a comprehensive renovation spearheaded by the Central Park Conservancy.

wooden area in a park with chess games

Situated near the south end of Central Park, just off 65th Street and Fifth Avenue, this beautifully refurbished outdoor space stands as a testament to its historical significance.

The restoration project was prompted by the deteriorating condition of the tables, roof, and floors within the Chess and Checkers House. Andrea Buteau, the vice president of visitor experience at the Central Park Conservancy, revealed that the structures were falling apart. However, the generous support of the Thompson Family Foundation enabled the commencement of a multimillion-dollar renovation last summer.

Following an extensive 11-month process, a diverse team comprising designers, architects, and historians gathered together to commemorate the restoration of this cherished gem within Central Park. As a result, visitors can now enjoy 24 chess and checkers tables suitable for players of all ages. For those who do not partake in chess, checkers is a viable alternative. Simply request a set of game pieces and find a seat; there is no cost to play.

Back in the day....

historic picture of people playing chess

Throughout the restoration process, the Central Park Conservancy remained committed to preserving the historical essence of the original venue, which was established in 1866. One notable achievement was the faithful reconstruction of the rustic pergola, an enduring wooden structure crafted from black locust wood, known for its exceptional durability and resistance to rot.

Furthermore, the refurbishment project aimed to modernize the Chess and Checkers House:

New tables, ramps, and public restrooms have been incorporated into the design, emphasizing both functionality and aesthetics.

The restored space welcomes visitors from Wednesday to Saturday, operating between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. To enhance the experience, a series of free programs will be available throughout the summer.

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