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The Trio of Landmarks on Dominick Street

On March 27, 2012, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated as landmarks three of Manhattan’s oldest homes, all of which are gathered in a row on Dominick Street. Nos. 32, 34, and 36 remain among the rare examples of Federal-style homes left in Manhattan, “significant reminders of the beginning of New York City’s evolution into a major urban center,” LPC Chair Robert Tierney noted at the time of designation.

(l. to r.) 32, 34, and 36 Dominick Street, images by Christopher D. Brazee/NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

The three homes in Hudson Square were among 125 historic structures that Village Preservation has sought to protect in its ongoing campaign to ensure the survival of Federal-era row houses in Manhattan.

The three homes were originally part of a larger set of 12 Federal row houses at 28-50 Dominick Street between Hudson and Varick Streets, all completed circa 1826. Five of those homes, nos. 28 to 36, were constructed by Smith Bloomfield, who also lived for a time at 32 Dominick. That building is the best example of the Federal style in the landmarked trio, still at its original two-and-a-half-story height and featuring a front facade with Flemish bond brickwork and a high peaked roof with dormers and a cornice. (The building also served as the rectory to the Church of Our Lady of Vilnius from 1912 to the church’s closure in 2007.)  Its neighbors at 34 and 36 Dominick Street retain some of those features, but a third story and Italianate cornice were added to each in 1866, alterations typical of many owners of Federal-era homes at the time.

Another section of Dominick Street circa 1915 showcasing its more residential history; photo courtesy Museum of the City of New York

In the 18th century, Dominick Street and the area around Hudson and Canal Streets had been known as Lispenard’s Meadow, a mostly marshy land interspersed with few homes. Drainage here in the early years of the 19th century spurred new development in the area, starting in 1807 with completion of St. John’s Chapel next to Hudson Square, which was also known as St. John’s Park, bounded by Varick, Beach, Hudson, and Laight Streets. By the 1820s, the area around the park had grown into a fashionable residential neighborhood, including the 12 row houses on Dominick Street. The area quickly became increasingly commercial in the following decades, especially after the straightening of the Hudson River shoreline in 1840 resulted in construction of piers and wharves at every cross street between Vesey and King Streets, as part of a very active waterfront.

The construction of the Holland Tunnel in the 1920s and the large loft buildings that followed brought an end to much of this historic row. Only the now landmarked buildings and neighboring 38 Dominick Street remain; the latter was also considered for designation by LPC in 2012, but its facade was deemed too altered over the years to merit landmark status.

Learn more about our campaign to landmark more Federal-era row houses here, and read our 2017 report covering two decades of landmarking successes from this effort here.

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