Troubling Plan for Iconic Landmarked 1834 House at 131 Charles Street Comes Before Landmarks Tuesday — Join Us to Oppose!

Next Tuesday, the NYC Landmarks Preservation will hold a public hearing on an application to alter the iconic, individually landmarked 1834 house and rear house at 131 and 131½ Charles Street, and to dig deeply below the two structures in a manner we fear could compromise both these and neighboring landmarked historic buildings. No. 131 Charles Street is one of the most intact examples in New York City of a modest Federal-style house — the first architectural style to reflect our newly independent nation — and was one of our city’s very first individually designated landmarks in 1966. (In 2006 Village Preservation got the house doubly landmarked, along with dozens of surrounding buildings, as part of the Far West Village extension of the Greenwich Village Historic District.) The rear house at 131½ Charles Street was home to groundbreaking photographer Diane Arbus from 1959 to 1968 — a critical phase of her career.

A new owner is seeking to build on to the rear roof and rear facade of the main structure, eliminate the historic rear “horse walk” that connected the rear building to the street, and expand and significantly alter the rear structure, as well as dig deeply below both buildings to create a subterranean space connecting them — see application here. The proposed changes are completely inappropriate for such an intact iconic example of a structure so near to the heart of Greenwich Village, New York, and American history. And the proposed excavation and digging opens up the danger of even greater damage being done to these and other adjacent structures.

Village Preservation will be strongly opposing this application at the LPC hearing on Tuesday, January 10, and we urge you to as well.


January 6, 2023