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The Doors to Jefferson Market

Recently, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express announced 40 preservation projects in the running for grants through their annual Partners in Preservation program.  This program seeks to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation, and this year it’s focusing on preservation in New York City. From April 26 through May 21, 2012, local residents and people across the country are encouraged to vote for their favorite of 40 historic places throughout the five boroughs of New York City to receive preservation funding. While we encourage you to take a look at all the projects being considered this year, we here at Off The Grid wanted to spotlight the three projects within our neighborhoods.  Today we’re looking at the Jefferson Market Library.

L: Historic view in 1963, courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Gallery; R: Today

Designed by architects Frederick Clarke Withers and Calvert Vaux, the Jefferson Market Courthouse (as it was originally known) was constructed between 1874 and 1877.  Withers and Vaux drew inspiration from Ruskinian Gothic models, and the inclusion of the clock at the tower for use by the public recalls the civic-minded designs of piazza buildings in Renaissance Italy.

As per the Partners in Preservation website: “The Jefferson Market Branch of The New York Public Library has served the Greenwich Village community for more than forty years. The building served initially as a courthouse and then as a home for various city agencies. Community members rallied to save the building from the wrecking ball, and it was preserved and converted into a public library, opening for business in 1967.”  Preeminent preservationist Margot Gayle led the grassroots effort to save the building and the library conversion was led by pioneering preservation architect Giorgio Cavaglieri (read more about him HERE), an appropriate choice given his northern Italian roots and the building’s European-inspired design.   To learn more about the history of this building, check out our other blog post on its recent rehabilitation and read the State & National Register Report!

The Jefferson Market Library is hoping to receive grant money from the Partners in Preservation program to greatly increase accessibility to the library and create an entryway that is more in harmony with the historic architecture.  This grant will work in conjunction with an already proposed project to install a bathroom in the lobby and enhance handicapped access to the library.  CLICK HERE to cast your vote for the Jefferson Market Library!

the current entranceway is in much need of new doors

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