Christmas is coming early this year! We have been told by the Landmarks Preservation Commission that the designation report for the newly landmarked Sullivan-Thompson historic district, aka phase III of our original South Village proposal, will be published today. Perhaps appropriately, it is scheduled to be released almost exactly three years after the designation of the South Village Historic District, aka phase II of our original South Village Historic Ditrict proposal. For those who are not familiar with this type of resource, designation reports are comprehensive reports on designated landmarks and historic districts covering their history, architecture, and significance. They tell the public why a particular site or district was designated, and what is (or is not) historically significant and intact about it. Thus this tells what the Commission, in regulating the site or district, will require to be preserved and what it may consider acceptable to change.
In looking at the South Village Historic District designation report, it is clear what a valuable resource these reports are.
At the beginning of the report for a district, such as South Village, you will find a district map, summary of the testimony at the public hearing, description of the district boundaries, and a summary of the district including its significance. The next section is a comprehensive history of the historical and architectural development of the district which typically will follow the area through to the present day. Certain key themes will also be discussed and in the case of the South Village, the social and cultural history of the area was explored including Little Africa, Italian South Village, South Village and Bohemian Culture, The LGBT community’s presence in the South Village, and Entertainment. This first part of the report concludes with the Findings and Designation section in which the Commission explains why the district is significant and therefore designated in accordance with the New York City Landmarks law.
The next part of the report can be very useful to owners. Here is a building profile for each property in the district. The profiles included for each contain date of construction, architect, original owner, alterations, style, detailed description and materials, a history of the building and relevant sources. The last section is an alphabetical listing of the architects who were responsible for the structures in the district and a summary of their education and professional careers.
Designation reports for individual landmarks follow pretty much the same formula, but of course are tailored to one building. A typical example may be seen at 57 Sullivan Street. The designation reports for properties and districts listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places are also very good sources for the history of landmarked properties and areas, though the building profiles are significantly less detailed. Click HERE to see the State and National designation report for the South Village.
GVSHP compiles links to the very useful designation reports for all NYC landmarks, NYC historic districts, and State and National Register landmarks and districts in our neighborhoods on our website — view them HERE. You will notice that some of the earlier designation reports, written from the Commission’s beginnings in the 1960’s through the 1990’s, were not nearly as detailed as the ones from the last twenty years.
As soon as the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District designation report is available, we will let you know. Stay tuned!