TAKE ACTION: Even More Remarkable Black History at Endangered 50 West 13th Street — Home of Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet

50 W. 13th Street (l.), and Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet (seated) with her family

Village Preservation has been leading a campaign for landmark designation of the imminently endangered 1846 rowhouse at 50 West 13th Street, the longtime former home of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, which has been on the chopping block since the death of theater owner Edith O’Hara in 2020. We’ve gathered significant support for landmarking and documented the building’s incredible significance to both theater history and African American history as the longtime home in the 19th century of one of New York’s leading black businessmen and crusaders for abolition and equal voting rights, Jacob Day. In spite of this, as well as coverage in The New York Times and imminent threats to the building, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has refused to consider the site for landmark designation.

The building is now in desperate shape, as the owner has gutted it, the roof appears damaged, the exterior is a shambles, and a stop-work order has been issued. At the same time, Village Preservation has called upon the LPC to finally act to landmark the site based on new information we’ve provided documenting that the house was also the home for about a decade of trailblazing black educator, suffragist, and civil rights leader Sarah Smith Tompkins Garnet — read our letter to the LPC here. Garnet is considered one of the leading figures of these critical movements in New York City in the 19th century, and has several schools and other sites named for her recognizing her contributions. Her home should be saved as well. 


November 27, 2023