PROVEN! Trailblazing Black Suffragist and Educator Sarah Smith Garnet Lived at Endangered 50 West 13th Street At Least Eight Years — LANDMARK IT NOW!

50 West 13th Street (l.) and Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet

This past November we shared that our research discovered that trailblazing black suffragist and educator Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet lived at 50 West 13th Street around 1870, adding to the already incredibly rich African American history of this house which was home to pioneering black businessman and civil rights leader Jacob Day, as well as the revered 13th Street Repertory Theater. The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has resisted landmarking the endangered 1846 house, and expressed doubt that Garnet’s tenure here was lasting or even true. 

However, our new research, submitted to the LPC, irrefutably establishes that the historically significant figure, who founded the first suffrage organization for black women and was the first black female principal in NYC, lived here from at least 1866 to 1874 — critical years in her life and career. It also further demonstrates how Jacob Day turned his home into a hub of black civil rights activity, at a time in the 19th century when Greenwich Village was the center of black life in NYC. 

In spite of its claims to prioritize recognizing black and other underrepresented histories, the LPC has refused to landmark this site for nearly 3 1/2 years, during which time it has become increasingly dilapidated and endangered. City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who now also represents the site, has also refused to support landmark designation. 


April 30, 2024