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Beyond Patchin Place

We’d like to share former GVSHP staffer Dana Schulz’s “Then & Now” post about a delightful block north of the Jefferson Market Library.

A 1950 photograph of 111-115 (L-R) West 10th Street.  Image courtesy of the Nat Kaufman Collection of GVSHP.
A 1950 photograph of 111-115 (L-R) West 10th Street. Image courtesy of the Nat Kaufman Collection of GVSHP.

The north side of West 10th Street between 6th Avenue and Greenwich Avenue is perhaps best known as the gateway to Patchin Place.  The buildings flanking this entrance, though, are also quite interesting.  On the east side, as seen in the historic photo, are numbers 101-111.  These six uniform, three-story buildings were constructed in 1836 with Flemish bond, a brickwork pattern of alternating headers and stretchers that was popular in the early 19th Century.  The band of houses wraps around to 6th Avenue where another set of six stand.  Their construction preceded Patchin Place by about twelve years.  They were commissioned for Samuel Smith and were built to have ground floor storefronts with residential quarters above.  New York Times records show that in the 1960s and 70s, this row along West 10th Street was a prime shopping destination for sophisticated housewares, cultured antiques, and upscale children’s wear.  Bombalulu’s, which continues the latter tradition, is located at 101, and the Times indicates that a similar store also occupied this space in 1962.

To the west of Patchin Place are # 113-119 West 10th Street, a row of four, three-story houses built in 1849 for Aaron Patchin.  They are of slightly smaller in scale than 101-111 and do not have Flemish bond.  Cornices only remain on numbers 113 and 115.  113 West 10th Street was, for many years, the second home to the Washington Square Bookshop.  The shop was a popular gathering spot for Village writers and artists.  In the 1980s number 115 was home to I.M. Cohen’s, a blinds store.  Again, interestingly, today this is still the site of a window furnishings store, Crosstown Custom Shade and Glass.  In the 1960s and 70s # 119 was well-known as the home of the James Beard Cooking School.

These sets of small-scale rowhouses provide the perfect setting for the entryway to historic Patchin Place, but they also stand on their own with ample architectural and cultural distinction.  Further, as the Greenwich Village Historic District designation report points out, their “simple vernacular quality….presents an interesting foil to the High Victorian elaboration of the Jefferson Market Courthouse across the street.”  That’s why there’s nowhere like the Village!

West 10th Street.
West 10th Street.

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