The Noho Historic District embraces a broad arc of New York City’s commercial history from the early 1850’s through the 1920’s, during which time this section prospered as a major retail and wholesale dry goods centers. It offers an eclectic mix of architectural styles and building types including early 19th century houses, turn-of the century office buildings, modest 20th century commercial structures and 19th & 20th century institutional buildings.
One such institutional building is 348-354 Lafayette Street a/k/a 11-13 Bond Street, which was built in 1913 for the New York Women’s League for Animals as a veterinary hospital. It was the first such building of its kind in the country, according to The New York Times from that year.
Originally formed in 1906 by Ellin Prince Speyer as the Women’s Auxilliary of the ASPCA, in 1910 this group became the New York Women’s League for Animals. Speyer, wife of railroad banker James Speyer (founder of the Provident Loan Society), organized an annual work horse parade with contests and exhibitions, in an effort to bring attention to the plight of work horses on city streets. The group also provided watering stations for horses in the city during the summer and lectures at schools on the care of pets such as dogs, cats and birds. They believed that beneficence to the animal kingdom was a sign of a healthy, moral household. “You don’t find wife-beaters who are fond of pets and lovers of animals,” said the League in an editorial in 1912.
The League opened a clinic for the care of animals, a relatively rare facility at the time. However it was inadequate to meet the needs of New York City’s animal population. The League raised $50,000 toward the construction of its animal hospital on Lafayette Street, which opened on March 14, 1914 to provide free animal care for pets and horses. On the southern end of the Lafayette facade is the freight opening which served as an entryway for horses. Other equine accommodations included a state-of-the-art elevator and roof garden.
The hospital was designed by Elisha H. James and August W. Cordes in the Colonial Revival style. It is four stories high with a raised basement and fifteen bays wide on the Lafayette elevation. It is clad in red brick with a stone foundation and terra-cotta detail including band courses, keystones, imposts and the cornice. The centered entry features a granite portico with rusticated columns and a bracketed hood. Most of the crenelated parapet is intact with the exception of the south end because of a 1924 rooftop addition by the League. 348 Lafayette Street continued to serve as an animal hospital until 1965, when it was converted to a factory and offices. Later it became a homeless women’s shelter.
Recently an application for a certificate of appropriateness was filed with the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to convert the building to retail use and make some pretty significant changes to the facade. The original proposal called for extending the 1924 rooftop addition and eradicating the crenelated parapet. Other changes included lowering the original entry, the installation of wide windows at the storefront level and changing the size of some of the original window openings, to name a few.
At the LPC hearing GVSHP spoke out against these and some of the other proposed changes, and was joined by the Historic Districts Council and the Society for the Architecture of the City. The LPC requested that the applicant make changes to the plan and return to present a revised plan at a public meeting (see article in NY Yimby).
The meeting was held yesterday. The applicant made some of the changes to the application, (see modified application HERE), though not quite as many as we would have liked. The LPC approved the revised application.
See our Landmarks Application webpage for more information on this application.