Saving 50 West 13th Street, Home of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre

Following the death late last year of Edith O’Hara, the founder of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, Village Preservation urged the Landmarks Preservation Commission to consider landmark designation of 50 West 13th Street, the more than 170 year old rowhouse which has housed the theater since its founding.  The 3 1/2 story house retains distinctive and unusual Greek Revival architectural detailing from the first half of the 19th century. Home to Off-Off Broadway theaters for more than 60 years, it also played an incredibly important role in the development of theater in New York, including African-American and LGBTQ theater. The 13th Street Repertory Theatre, located here since 1972, helped launch the careers of Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, Chazz Palminteri, Richard Dreyfus, Christopher Meloni, and many others. It was also the home of the longest running play in Off-Off Broadway Theater history, Israel Horovitz’s Line

With Edith O’Hara’s passing, however, the building’s fate remains very much in doubt. Part-owners of the building had sought to demolish it in years past, eventually agreeing to leave the building as is for the duration of O’Hara’s life.  We want to ensure the building’s continued survival, and have received support for our landmarking proposal from Borough President Gale Brewer and Community Board #2.  However, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has so far resisted, so more pressure is needed.

January 13, 2021