Green Lantern proprietor Harry Somerville ’92, center, is shown here with two of the bar’s regular patrons, fellow Transy alums David Johnson ’92, left, and James Nisbet ’92, right.
The rebirth of an old haunt
Harry Somerville ’92 used to daydream about what it would be like to own a bar. Those daydreams became reality in November 2007 when he reopened the former Hideaway on the corner of Third and Jefferson Streets in Lexington as the Green Lantern. The name, of course, is a nod to the legendary Transy hangout that did business on the corner of Seventh Street and Elm Tree Lane for over 50 years under the watchful eye of Virginia Ayers Haycraft, affectionately known as “Mom” to her regulars.
“I can’t re-create the old Green Lantern,” Somerville said. “That would be impossible. But this is a tribute.”
Somerville, a native of Monterey, Ky., sees the new Green Lantern as a sort of shrine to Mom Haycraft, an important influence in his life when he was a student at Transy. The original Green Lantern was like a home away from home, a place where he always felt safe and welcome.
Somerville also spent time at the Hideaway, both during college and after graduation, and in those later years he forged a friendship with the bar’s owner, Phillip Mudd. When Mudd made a very attractive offer, Somerville couldn’t help but jump at the chance to own the business.
A relaxed, neighborhood bar, the atmosphere of the Green Lantern is reminiscent of the loose-feeling bars found in the Mississippi Delta area, where Somerville spent some time. The place is decidedly unpretentious.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re on food stamps or own a hundred thoroughbreds, everyone who walks through that door is treated the same,” Somerville said, quick to point out that there are only three rules to live by at the Green Lantern: watch your mouth, mind your manners, pay your tab.
Many argue that the original Green Lantern served the best cheeseburgers in town. The new Green Lantern serves up chili and what Somerville claims is the best jukebox in town. “I pit it against anyone’s,” he said.
A year ago, Somerville refurbished the adjoining property as a music venue. “It was a little store for a while, then sat empty for about 16 years,” he said. Now, it’s home to a dance floor, sitting area, and stage for live music three nights a week.
Transy students under the age of 21 need not attempt an evening at the Green Lantern, but their parents are another story. “Students need to be studying, not coming here,” Somerville said. “But I welcome Transy alums.”
He’s especially interested in hearing from anyone who may have photos or memorabilia from the original Green Lantern to be displayed on his walls, or from those who would simply like to share their memories. “We’ll take good care of anything that people would like to send,” he said.
Somerville can be found at the bar four nights a week, but he hasn’t given up his day job. He works in construction as a field manager, and said he’s lucky to have good people working for him at the Green Lantern, overseeing business when he can’t be there.
With the support of the community, things look promising for the Green Lantern. “It’s almost as if Mom Haycraft is watching over us,” he said.