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Ghost Sign: 310-312 East 11th Street

Between the 2nd and 3rd stories of this handsome building at 310-312 East 11th, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, there is a faint sign that reads “Knickerbocker Boarding.” Today the building is a parking garage but the sign indicates that there may be more to its history than meets the eye.

Using GVSHP’s research about every building in the East Village we learned about this building’s very interesting past.

Historic maps indicate that going back to at least the 1850’s, 310-312 East 11th Street was a livery and stable used for boarding and hiring horses and carriages.

The building we see today was built in 1889 when it replaced an earlier stable. The stable was designed by noted architect Franklin Baylies, who also designed Fire Patrol House #2 at 84 West 3rd Street in the South Village, which GVSHP proposed as an individual landmark and which  Anderson Cooper is converting into a resisdence.  Baylies was also responsible for the 1892 alterations to  313 and 315 East 10th Street in the recently designated East 10th Street Historic District. The stable was constructed for Moses Weil who was leasing it from St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery.

Throughout the Village there are buildings that are connected to the pre-automobile era of New York, among them the former horse and carriage auction that was artist Frank Stella’s studios at 128 East 13th Street.  In 2006 GVSHP got the City to intercede and prevent a plan to demolish the building to replace it with a 7-story condo, and we have been fighting to have the building landmarked ever since.  With the recent announcement that this building is going to be sold at auction, it has been reported that t he LPC has plans to vote on the designation of the building in June. Carriage houses, located behind or next to rowhouses were not uncommon either. Next week we have a program about the restoration of a carriage house in the West Village.

Still used as a stable and carriage house, in 1903 a fifth floor was added to 310-312 East 10th Street. The plans include a description of changes made to the interior, “frame out 4th tier for horse runs… extend present elevator shaft through new story and above roof…building will be occupied same as before by stable and carriage house.”

As the city entered the automobile age the stables on East 10th Street were converted into a parking garage for cars in 1924. This was quite common at the time. Early parking structures were generally converted from other uses, which is part of the reason the former Tunnel Garage, one of New York’s earliest purpose built parking facilities was so significant. Demolished in 2006, the loss is a sad reminder that much of the South Village still remains unprotected from this kind of loss.

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