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Hawk ’n’ Dove Auctions Off Decor

After four decades on Capitol Hill, the Hawk ’n’ Dove was just as well-known for the quirky decorations that hung around the saloon as for its $2 beer specials on Tuesday nights.

And now, after its doors closed for the final time under the ownership of Stuart Long on Sunday, people can get a piece of what made the Hawk ’n’ Dove what it was.

An online auction is selling the many pieces that contributed to the Hawk ’n’ Dove’s ambiance. The bar will be open Thursday for those who are making bids to inspect the items. Bidding closes at 11:07 a.m. Friday. Pickup of the items will be on Monday.

Up for sale: pretty much everything, from wooden mallards and the rickety bar stools to the LCD TV screens that many people watched for games and the stove that cooked all those meals in the back of the kitchen.

While new owner Xavier Cervera has said he plans to keep the bar as a saloon, based on what is up for sale, he doesn’t plan on keeping anything from the old bar aside from  its name. Even the giant sign that hung above the entrance is up for sale, currently going for $100.

Some of the pieces, such as the dozens of chairs, barely have a price set to them and are going for only a few cents, but others, such as the floor mats emblazoned with the bar’s name, are already going for $130.

The sentimentality of the patrons is evident in what they are choosing to spend their money on: The neon sign that bore the bar’s name is going for $300, much more than either the Coors Light sign ($27.50) or the Miller Lite Irish sign ($70).

There’s also the taxidermy, from a mounted boar’s head ($12.50) to a full fox ($1.20).

The bar has been home to wonks and denizens alike ever since it opened on Dec. 23, 1967. Long named it the Hawk ’n’ Dove to represent the cultural divide in the U.S. during the Vietnam War.

Since then, the restaurant was the site of a scene in the TV show “West Wing” and a place for people including actor Robert Redford and then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) to stop in for a meal and a drink.

“The Hawk served senators and interns, Shakespeare scholars and tradesmen, constitutional scholars from the Library Congress and the Redskins ‘over the hill gang’, newcomers to town, returning Peace Corps Volunteers, visiting students and workers who lived here a generation ago and wanted to show their families where they hung out,” restaurant management said in a statement.

In the weeks before the Hawk ’n’ Dove closed, the scene at the bar retained its casualness. Patrons sat at a table near a bar, trading stories. In another room, the owner of next-door establishment Tune Inn ate lunch with her family.

And at the bar sat Mike Donaghue, Democratic archivist for the Senate Judiciary Committee. Donaghue was enjoying a meal at the Hawk ’n’ Dove, something he had done once a week since he started working on the Hill in 2004. (The bar was also a staple of his when he worked in the House in the 1970s. He joked that there are many nights he spent at “the Hawk” that he doesn’t remember.)

But as bad as he feels about giving up the comforts of the bar, he feels worse for the bar’s staff, some of whom had worked there for several years.

“It isn’t fair that my Friday routine is being disrupted,” the 64-year-old said. “It is even more unfair and tragic that these good, hardworking employees are facing an uncertain future.”

As he pushed his plate aside, he said he was shocked by the news that the old bar and restaurant would soon close. He would miss bringing interns here. He would miss talking with Paul, the bartender, with whom he would solve all of the world’s problems, as bartenders and patrons are apt to do.

“It’s just a very big part of the Hill culture,” he said. “Who won’t miss it?”

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