The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is gearing up for our 15th Annual Village House Tour, a benefit to raise funds in support of GVSHP’s work to educate about and advocate for the distinctive character and irreplaceable architecture of our neighborhoods. Six private homes will be open on this year’s tour and tickets are available now. So what is of historical interest on this year’s tour? One of the homes featured this year are located on what was the site of the former estate of Sir Peter Warren, and the last remaining rural block in Greenwich Village.
Sir Peter Warren was a royal British naval officer who, by 1744, had purchased a 300-acre farm in the Village. His land stretched from the Hudson River to the Bowery and from Charles Street to West 21st Street. He and his wife Susannah De Lancey lived in a mansion on what is now the block bound by West 4th, Bleecker, Charles, and Perry Streets.
Although most of the 300-acre Warren farm was divided up and sold off for development by the early to mid-nineteenth century, this block was the only one in the entire Village to remain rural well into the 1860s. The Warren farmhouse survived on this site, albeit in altered form, and was last owned by Abraham Van Nest, a prominent merchant and benefactor of Rutgers College.
After Van Nest’s death in 1864, this last remaining piece of Village farmland and the Van Nest/Warren farmhouse were sold off for rowhouse development. This section of Charles Street was named Van Nest Place in honor of the last estate owner in the Village. In 1936, the city changed it names to Charles Street at the request of property owners, because of confusion with Van Nest Avenue in the Bronx.
See the next chapter of the history of this block at our Annual Spring House Tour on Sunday, May 5th. Tickets can be purchased on the GVSHP website. Want to learn more about this history? Check out these past Off the Grid posts on Sir Peter Warren and Van Nest Place.