Responding to City’s Troubling Dismissal of Landmarking Our Lady of Guadalupe, City’s First Spanish Church, and Hispanic History
Village Preservation has been leading an effort to save and seek landmark designation for the original Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 229-31 West 14th Street, which the archdiocese relegated for sale earlier this year. We’ve been joined in that effort by a broad array of elected officials, scholars of Hispanic and Latino history and culture, and preservation and neighborhood organizations; the effort has received extensive coverage in The New York Times, among other outlets. Guadalupe was the city’s very first church for a Spanish-speaking congregation, founded in 1902 when Spanish speakers were a tiny percentage of our city’s population. New Yorkers of Hispanic/Latino origin now account for 30% of our city’s population. In spite of that fact, barely a handful of our city’s nearly 40,000 landmarked properties represent or were designated for their connection to Hispanic/Latino history.
In spite of this undeniable historic significance that we thoroughly documented to the Commission, supported by a broad coalition of officials and leaders, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) recently sent this troubling letter to us dismissing the significance of the building and its history, based upon entirely specious and flimsy arguments, and saying they would not recommend the site be heard by the 11 Commissioners for consideration for landmark designation. Read our response to this outrageous letter here, co-signed by elected officials, the local community board, scholars of Hispanic/Latino history, and preservation and neighborhood organizations, refuting its faulty and damaging claims.
Only the 11 Commissioners of the LPC can decide which buildings do or don’t become NYC landmarks, so this letter does not represent a final decision or official determination by the body. Outrageously, however, it does reflect that the Chair of the Commission, who is appointed by and represents the Mayor, currently does not believe that this history is worth recognizing or preserving. We cannot allow this perspective to stand!