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South Village Landmark Proposal — What’s In?

Earlier in the week we looked at what sites the Landmarks Preservation Commission excluded from our proposed South Village Historic District in their draft proposed phase II designation.

Map of the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s draft proposed boundariess.

As promised, in anticipation of Monday’s night’s public property owner’s meeting on the draft proposal, today we are looking at what’s in.  Hint: it’s some great stuff.

In no particular order, let’s start with 130 and 132 MacDougal Street, a lovely pair of Greek Revival Houses that Bronson and Louisa May Alcott once lived in; some scholars believe Louisa May may have written parts of “Little Women” while living here.  Built in 1845, the surviving iron veranda surround is quite rare.  NYU now owns the houses, and used their air rights to construct the adjacent 16-story D’Agostino Hall in 1983.

130-132 MacDougal Street.

200-202 Bleecker Street were built as federal-style single family homes in 1826, expanded from 2 1/2 to 3 stories sometime in the late 19th century.  These grand houses later became and remain the home of the Little Red Schoolhouse, a trailblazing progressive educational institution founded in 1926 which changed the way education was thought of in this country.

200-202 Bleecker Street, now the Little Red Schoolhouse.

132 and 134 West 4th Street are Greek Revival townhouses built in 1839, each with artists studios added in the late 1910’s.  As magnificent as these houses are, their 20th century renovations and occupants were in some ways even more fascinating; read more about them in our recent blog post “Decades of Limbo To Finally End for South Village “Almost-Landmarks”?

132 and 134 West 4th Street.

39 1/2 Washington Square South, or the “Washington View” apartments, are the South Village’s only “French Flats”.  They were built in 1883 and considered for individual landmark designation in 1967; read more about them HERE.

“Washington View” french flats apartments at 39 1/2 Washington Square South.

The former Mill’s House No. 1 at 160 Bleecker Street later became the very seedy Greenwich Hotel, and is now the Atrium Apartments.  Built in 1896 by Ernest Flagg, it is one of Manhattan’s earliest and largest “reform housing” developments, originally meant to safely and humanely house 1,500 single men in tiny rooms.  It also housed the Village Gate Theater for nearly fifty years.  Read more about it HERE.

Former Mill’s House No. 1 at 160 Bleecker Street, now the Atrium Apartments.

The former Fire Patrol Building No. 2 at 84 West 3rd Street is perhaps more famous now as the home of Anderson Cooper.  But it was built in 1906 as the home of a private fire service run by insurance companies, which predated the NYFD and has roots which can be traced back to Benjamin Franklin.  Until the mid-2000’s, this was one of their last remaining operating houses.  GVSHP got the building determined eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2010.  Reads more HERE.

Fire Patrol House No. 2 (l.), at 84 West 3rd Street.

The former Bethlehem Chapel and Memorial House at 196-198 Bleecker Street was built in 1918 as a missionary church and settlement house for English and Italian speaking congregations by the first Presbyterian Church on Fifth Avenue.

Former Bethlehem Chapel and Memorial House, 196-198 Bleecker Street.

An incredible array of tenements of every style and configuration, including some particularly colorful “old-law” tenements built in 1886 on Sullivan Street south of West 3rd Street.

“Old law” tenements on Sullivan Street; note the “1886” in the cornice on the left.

This collection of tenements probably built around 1858 at 224-228 Sullivan Street were renovated, combined, and upgraded in the 1930, as this part of the Village saw an influx of artists and writers.  The ground floors were combined in an art deco style as were the rear yards into one communal space, leading to three backhouses behind, which are just barely visible through the front gate on Sullivan Street.

Figure 70. 224-228 Sullivan Street
224-228 Sullivan Street.

The H.H. Upham and Co. Building at 508 LaGuardia Place (just south of Bleecker), a Romanesque Revival style building constructed of iron spot Roman brick trimmed with rock-faced brick and terra cotta in 1891 by the prestigious firm of Brunner & Tryon.

H.H. Upham & Co., 508 LaGuardia Place.

The Children’s Aid Society’s Sullivan Street Industrial School built in 1891 by Calvert Vaux, architect of Central Park and the Jefferson Market Courthouse.  For years poor immigrant children were taught here.  In 2011 the site was sold to a developer who has already demolished some of the less distinguished adjacent CAS buildings, though this one may be spared.

Children’s Aid Society Sullivan Street Industrial School.

Rich terra cotta detail on this 1901 tenement at 194 Bleecker Street (6th Avenue/MacDougal Street).  This was the original location of Porto Rico Importing Company, now located across the street at 201 Bleecker Street.

194 Bleecker Street detail.

These colorful tenements at 177-181 Thompson Street were built in 1903 to the designs of the prolific architectural firm of Bernstein and Bernstein.  These brothers designed dozens of buildings within the South Village, and hundreds of buildings throughout New York City in the late 19th and early 20th century.  They may be New York’s most prolific architectural firm.  Rocco’s Restaurant in the ground floor had been open for nearly 90 years when it shut its doors due to rising rents in 2012.

177-181 Thompson Street.

These simple, federal style houses at 12 and 14 Minetta Street were built in 1826.

12 and 14 Minetta Street.

Another colorful Bernstein and Bernstein tenement with lavish stonework and terra cotta ornament, this one built in 1904 at 140 West 4th Street.

140-144 West 4th Street.

This 1904 Beaux Arts style tenement was also designed by Bernstein & Bernstein, but has the unusual element of placing its legally mandated light wells on the exterior rather than the interior of the buildings.  The 1901 “new” tenement law required a certain amount of light and air for every room in new buildings, which made construction on narrow sites like these often impossible.  By placing the light wells on the exterior of the building, it not only gave residents open light and air rather than just air shafts as most tenements did, but turned the light wells into a sculptural, architectural element.

169 Sullivan Street.

These three colorful houses at 1,3, and 5 Minetta Lane were built sometime before 1840.  But typical of the area, in 1924 they were combined and upgraded by a forward-thinking developer named Vincent Pepe, who helped bring artists and writers of modest means, and those who just wanted to live around artists and writers, into what had become a largely immigrant neighborhood that polite society largely avoided.

1, 3, & 5 Minetta Lane.

Clearly there’s a lot of good stuff in there!

Don’t forget to join us for the public property owner’s meeting about the new draft proposed district this Monday, April 15 at the NYU Meyer Building, 4 Washington Place (B’way), rm. 121.  While not an opportunity to testify about the proposed district, it is an opportunity to ask questions, and with stickers which will be provided by GVSHP, let the LPC know that you support landmarking the entire South Village.

2 responses to “South Village Landmark Proposal — What’s In?

  1. As a faculty member at NYU I am extremely concerned that the University not continue to overstep its development ambitions – I hope these buildings and others like it will be landmarked.

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