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GVSHP Oral History: Ingrid Bernhard

121 Charles Street

GVSHP is excited to share our oral history collection with the public, and hope they will shed more light on what makes Greenwich Village and the East Village such unique and vibrant areas. Each of these histories highlights the experiences and insights of long-time residents, usually active in the arts, culture, preservation, business, or civic life of the neighborhood.  Recently we launched new collections focusing on the East and South Villages, and have been highlighting some of the featured individuals on Off the Grid.  These posts can be found here, and the entire oral history collection here.

You probably don’t know Ingrid Bernhard, but you may know her old house. We have written extensively about 121 Charles Street many times here on Off the Grid.

Ingrid and her husband, Sven, were Swedish nationals who met in New York and lived in a farmhouse on the Upper East Side on 71st Street and York Avenue in the mid 1960’s. In 1967 the house was slated for destruction. As we previously reported, the Bernhards “reached an agreement that gave them ownership of the house on the condition that they remove it  from the site. Ingrid walked all over the Yorkville area but couldn’t find anyplace. They hired an architect to help them move the house, and he found the lot on Charles Street. So, on March 3rd, 1967, Ingrid and Sven bought the lot at 121 Charles Street, and two days later, they moved their dream house on a flatbed truck, down Second Avenue and over 14th Street to a warm welcome in Greenwich Village!”

Ingrid Bernhard in 2015

GVSHP held a public program on the history of the home last year. Based on the Greenwich Village Historic District designation report, the house dates from the late 1700’s or early 1800’s. GVSHP’s former Director of Preservation and Research Amanda Davis composed an amazing slideshow about the house’s history, which you can view here.

Ingrid moved to New York from her native Sweden in 1956. Her oral history includes stories about her early years in Sweden, living in a Greenwich Village women’s rooming house, working at B. Altman’s, meeting her husband Sven, and of course the story of 121 Charles Street. You can listen to her oral history or read the transcript here.

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