HDC@LPC Testimony for LPC Hearing on October 27, 2015

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.


Item 1



173234- Block 2457, lot 28

175 Broadway – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark

A Classical Revival style bank building designed by George B. Post and built in 1875. Application is to install a sidewalk canopy.

175 Broadway

HDC finds this canopy to be too simple for this very handsome building, and asks that a more thoughtful approach that responds to the building’s style and details be considered here.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 3



176649- Block 237, lot 54

25 Monroe Place – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

A Moderne style apartment building designed by Rollin Caughey and built in 1938. Application is to replace windows and install through-window air conditioners.

25 Monroe

HDC wishes to applaud the applicant on the historically sensitive approach being taken here. The windows on this building provide its main source of visual interest and speak to its date of construction. The replacement of the existing windows with single glazed steel windows is a welcome and much appreciated step toward preserving this building’s contribution to Monroe Place and the Brooklyn Heights Historic District.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 4



175030- Block 263, lot 33

118 Joralemon – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1848. Application is to replace windows.

118 Joralemon

Since Greek Revival style rowhouses originally had wood windows, we ask that these windows be replaced in wood, not metal.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 6



160213- Block 2102, lot 7501

280 Carlton Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District

An early Italianate style rowhouse with Greek Revival style details built in the early 1850s. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

280 Carlton

There are many ways to transform the rear façades of rowhouses, but our committee finds the proposed redesign to lack cohesion and internal consistency. We specifically find the black cube to be out of place and the vinyl windows to be inappropriate.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 7



136588- Block 1664, lot 77

361 Macon Street – Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District

An empty lot. Application is to construct a new building.

361 Macon Street

HDC finds the details on the front façade of this new building to be appropriate, but asks that the proposed substitute materials be rethought. Dryvit and fiberglass will not weather well, and will be prone to damage. We would also ask that the applicant work closely with the LPC staff to get an accurate simulated brownstone finish. On the rear, we feel that it would be better if the bulk were reduced so that the building does not project farther or extend higher than its neighbors.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 10


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

172138- Block 720, lot 29

437 West 22nd Street – Chelsea Historic District

An Anglo-Italianate style rowhouse built in 1855. Application is to alter the façade and replace windows.

437 West 22nd Street

While HDC finds the proposed windows to be appropriate, we would prefer to see a plan for the restoration of all of the building’s windows, even if done in a phased approach.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 11


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

172294- Block 1127, lot 61

313 Columbus Avenue – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

A Romanesque Revival/Queen Anne-style flats building, designed by Frederick T. Camp and built in 1889-90. Application is to replace ground floor infill and install illuminated signage

313 Columbus

HDC feels that an opportunity presents itself here to move this storefront in a more historically accurate direction. We ask that another design be investigated that would be more in keeping with the handsome building above, rather than continuing with the existing language.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 13


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

174416- Block 1206, lot 23

7 West 92 Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger and built in 1899-1900. Application is to replace windows.

7 W 92nd

HDC generally finds this proposal to be inoffensive, but in a perfect world, the curved windows would be put back, at least on the lower two floors.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 14


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

175336- Block 1380, lot 7501

40 East 66th Steet – Upper East Side Historic District

A neo-Renaissance style apartment building with commercial ground floor designed by Rosario Candela and built in 1928-29. Application is to construct stair bulkheads and alter penthouse window openings

40 E. 66th

HDC finds the rooftop bulkheads to be acceptable, but finds that the penthouse windows do little for the building. The faceless expanses of glass would be better if replaced with French doors with divided lights.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 16


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

172012- Block 1506, lot 69

1136 Fifth Avenue – Carnegie Hill Extension Historic District

A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by George F. Pelham and built in1924-1925. Application is to modify masonry openings and replace infill and cladding at the penthouse.

1136 Fifth Ave

Considering that these windows are visible from Central Park, HDC feels that there are better ways to reconfigure the windows so that the glass panes are not so large. We would also suggest that the restoration of the building’s cornice would help to hide these larger windows.

LPC determination: No Action


Items 20-21


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176618- Block 829, lot 50

1164 Broadway, 1170 Broadway & 12 West 28 St – Madison Square North Historic District

A store and office building built c. 1985, a Beaux Arts style store and office building designed by Schickel and Ditmars and built in 1902-03 and a neo-Classical store and office building designed by Samuel Edson Gage and built in 1916-17. Application is to replace no. 1164 with a new building that connects to no. 1170 internally.

A store and office building built c. 1985, a Beaux Arts style store and office building designed by Schickel and Ditmars and built in 1902-03 and a neo-Classical store and office building designed by Samuel Edson Gage and built in 1916-17. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for Special Permit pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution for a Modification of Bulk.

1164 Bway-1

1164 Bway-2

HDC does not object to the demolition of 1164 Broadway, but feels that its replacement could benefit from further study. The proposed new building, while uniform in height to both 1170 Broadway and the new building about to rise at 1162 Broadway, creates a monolithic block in this district that is characterized by its varied building heights. HDC also finds the design of the building to be somewhat frantic, yet the central section of glazing creates a large void that would benefit from a few more horizontals and verticals to avoid the appearance of a hole in the center of the building. Its limestone and black steel palette are very stark in their contrast. Perhaps a medium tone grey would help to soften this transition.

LPC determination: Approved


Items 22-23


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176458- Block 831, lot 33

1 West 29th Street – Individual Landmark

A Romanesque Revival style church with Gothic Revival style details, designed by Samuel A. Warner and built in 1854 with a two-story addition built in 1919 and a portico built in 1959. Application is to alter the west and north elevations.

A Romanesque Revival style church with Gothic Revival style details, designed by Samuel A. Warner and built in 1854 with a two-story addition built in 1919 and a portico built in 1959. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Use and Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.


Item 24


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176459- Block 831, lot 20

1200 Broadway – Individual Landmark

A Second Empire style cast iron hotel building designed by Stephen Decatur Hatch and built between 1869 and 1871. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Use and Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

Marble-tower rendering-corner



Marble-tower rendering-broad

The Landmarks Preservation Commission has the power to deny applications for Section 74-711 permits, and HDC urges the Commission to exercise this power today. The proposed tower and plaza do NOT relate harmoniously to the subject landmark buildings, Marble Collegiate Church and Gilsey House, and the proposed restorative work does NOT contribute enough to a preservation purpose to justify this work. Both of these are conditions of the 74-711 permit.

The proposed tower is entirely too tall, dwarfing the historic buildings below and blocking views of the Empire State Building, an iconic experience from within the adjacent Madison Square North Historic District. Local residents and preservation advocates have long been pushing for an extension of the Historic District in order to more adequately protect the character of this neighborhood, which is the subject of major development pressure that threatens its historic buildings and its contribution to our city. The historic district extension proposal, on which the LPC has yet to take action, would include this block’s unprotected buildings. If the LPC had acted to extend the historic district, this Commission would have more power to dictate the outcome of this situation today.

Concerning the restoration of Gilsey House, HDC feels that this application does not go far enough. Rather than reverse the inappropriate changes made in the 1940s, this proposal simply upgrades some of the existing materials and makes nominal attempts at restoration. The Commission regularly demands a high level of restoration when granting a 74-711. For Gilsey House, a well-loved Individual Landmark, this should include the restoration of its many lost decorative features, which include, but are not limited to its arched windows and pedimented surrounds, its massive dentilled cornice just below the mansard roof, and the grand broken pediment on the Broadway façade at the cornice line. HDC finds it extremely short-sighted and, perhaps, disingenuous, that no historic photographs were provided in this application to show Gilsey House’s original condition. These images, which are readily available online, show the many features that this application overlooks in its so-called restoration.

Concerning other aspects of this proposal, the introduction of a plaza on West 29th Street is completely inappropriate. It harks back to a proven failure of urban planning, the plaza bonus, and creates a gaping hole in the neighborhood, which has already suffered the loss of the beloved Bancroft Building. Adding insult to injury, the proposal would demolish three more of this block’s historic buildings, Italianate rowhouses dating from the 1850s with two-story, cast iron storefronts added in 1900-1902 after designs by John B. Snook. These three buildings, unfortunately not protected by the LPC, and, therefore, not even a part of this application, will be replaced with a structure of their same height, making their demolition especially unjustified. Why not incorporate these façades into the new proposal, thereby saving as much historic fabric as possible? These structures obviously relate to Gilsey House and would help to maintain some semblance of this existing historic streetscape. And finally, the exposure and redesign of the church’s west façade would create a false historical situation for a building that was never meant to “breathe” or be freestanding. This party wall was never meant to be exposed and it should remain that way. Instead of creating a false sense of history and a plaza where one does not belong, HDC would suggest something more in line with the new building constructed as the entrance to the tower at One Madison Park. That structure, located at 23 East 22nd Street and designed by BKSK Architects, is inventive in its use of materials and relates well in its height and proportions to the existing streetscape.

We urge the Commission to demand a higher standard for the historic buildings in its care, and to deny the proposal before you today.

LPC determination: No Action


HDC Designation Testimony for Backlog95 Hearing – October 22, 2015

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has scheduled four “special hearings” this fall to consider 95 proposed landmarks that have been on the agency’s calendar for five years or more.  Back in November 2014, the LPC attempted to “de-calendar” all of these items, but since agreed to let the public weigh in.  Below is HDC’s testimony for the second hearing on October 22, which will cover all items in Staten Island. The following hearings will be on November 5 (Manhattan A) and November 12 (Manhattan B).


Staten Island Group 1, Item A


LP – 1218

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 531, Lot 1


HDC, along with members of the local community, has long advocated for the designation of the Harrison Street Historic District. In 2013, a hearing was held to consider the designation, but progress halted due to political pressure. This is deeply disappointing to the advocates who have worked so hard to protect this charming street, which would have been Staten Island’s fourth historic district. It is sad that Staten Island holds such a small percentage of the city’s 137 historic districts. The last historic district to be designated in that borough was 11 years ago, the Stapleton Heights Historic District in 2004. While Stapleton Heights boasted the mansions of Manhattan-based businessmen and top officials of local breweries, Harrison Street, also located in Stapleton, was (and is) made up of the less grand, but no less special homes of the neighborhood’s merchants and professionals. Thanks to the efforts of dedicated homeowners, many of these “modest” homes now rival their neighbors up the hill.

Dating from roughly the 1840s, 92 Harrison Street is thought to be the oldest house on the street. It was built for Susan M. Tompkins Smith, the daughter of Daniel D. Tompkins, the fourth governor of New York and the Vice President of the United States under James Monroe. Ms. Smith grew up on Staten Island. Her brother Minthorne Tompkins and his partner William J. Staples, were instrumental in developing the neighborhood of Stapleton. The stately, three-story clapboard house was designed in the Greek Revival style and is perched on an incline at the western end of Harrison Street. It features a graceful doorway, a porch with large columns, windows with louvered shutters, and a gable roof with a semi-circular window. While the real carrot on the end of the stick, so to speak, would be the designation of the entire street, HDC feels that because of its age and its situation slightly apart from the other attached and detached homes on Harrison Street, number 92 could easily stand on its own as an individual landmark.


Staten Island Group 1, Item B

GEORGE W. CURTIS HOUSE, 234 Bard Avenue, Staten Island

LP – 2507

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 138, Lot 166


Beyond the architectural charms of this mid-19th century farmhouse, which include brackets under the eaves, eared windowsills, and true divided-light windows, all of which have recently been restored, the Curtis House is noted for its association with the abolitionist cause during the Civil War era. Its original owners were George W. Curtis and his wife Anna Gould Shaw. Curtis was an influential writer, lecturer, reformist and supporter of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the editor of several political magazines, including Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar. Shaw came from a strong abolitionist background, as her father, Francis George Shaw was a prominent abolitionist and her brother, Robert Gould Shaw, died leading the Civil War’s first African American regiment in the attack on Fort Sumter. The house was used as a gathering place for the couple’s many causes, which also included Women’s Suffrage and Civil Service Reform.

Just a few blocks away from the Curtis House, at 69 Delafield Place, is the former home of Samuel MacKenzie Elliott, another prominent abolitionist who is believed to have harbored escaped slaves in the cellar. The Elliott house, of a similar vintage and architectural style as the Curtis House, was designated an individual landmark in 1966. HDC asks that these two houses be further linked by offering the same protection here.


Staten Island Group 1, Item C

CUNARD HALL, WAGNER COLLEGE, 631 Howard Avenue, Staten Island

LP – 0403

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 620, Lot 1

76 CunardHall1-sm

With a mission to prepare future Lutheran ministers for admission to seminary, Wagner College was founded in 1883 in Rochester, NY. The college relocated to Grymes Hill on Staten Island in 1918, acquiring the 38-acre former country estate of 19th century shipping magnate Sir Edward Cunard, whose father, Samuel, founded the famous Cunard Steam-Ship Company. Sir Edward worked as the shipping company’s New York representative. His estate strategically overlooked New York harbor, allowing him to view his ships approaching. The estate included a grand mansion constructed in 1851-52 called “Bellevue,” which the college later renamed “Cunard Hall” in homage to Sir Edward. The mansion is a three-story, red brick, Italianate villa with a multi-gabled roofline, overhanging bracketed eaves, and arched windows. Its outstanding architecture, as well as its age and association with an influential Staten Island figure, make up only part of its significance. Perhaps its most important contribution is as a record of Staten Island’s past as a wealthy enclave of country estates. In fact, the estates of two other illustrious landowners, Cornelius Vanderbilt and General William G. Ward, whose estate also became part of Wagner College, were in this same part of Staten Island.


Staten Island Group 1, Item D


LP – 2508

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 92, Lot 1


This house was built circa 1857 for merchant and broker Adolph Rodewald. It is, however, most famous for having been sold in 1886 to Nicholas Muller, a powerful figure in Staten Island politics in the late 19th century. Muller began his political career with Tammany Hall in 1882, and went on to serve five terms in the United States Congress as a representative from New York. He also served as President of the Police Board, Quarantine Commissioner and Tax Commissioner. The house was later acquired by St. Peter’s Boys High School, which continues to operate there today. The Anglo-Italianate structure has a symmetrical front façade flanked by gabled end bays, which are capped by pediments with an oculus window in each. Other architectural features include arched window surrounds with keystones, ornamental brackets, a columned entry porch, and a small central dormer window. The structure should be protected for its significant age, style, and history.


Staten Island Group 1, Item E


LP – 1524


Sailors’ Snug Harbor, a home for retired seamen, was founded in 1801 by Captain Robert Richard Randall and operated on Staten Island from 1833 to 1976, when it relocated to North Carolina. At the peak of its operation, Sailors’ Snug Harbor was considered to be the country’s grandest complex devoted to the care of aged sailors. Between 1965 and 1973, eight of the structures were designated individual landmarks and in 1982, two interiors were also designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. In 1972, the complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The listing describes the campus as “…a rare surviving example of mid-19th-century urban planning, architecture, and landscaping, scarcely equaled in the nation.” In 1976, Snug Harbor was repurposed as the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, which is home to the Staten Island Museum, a botanical garden and a theater. In 1984, a historic district to encompass more than just individual buildings was calendared for a public hearing. The proposed district would take in 22 additional buildings dating from 1845 to 1916 in a variety of styles, including Greek Revival, neo-Classical, and neo-Georgian. The district would also take in the beautiful surrounding landscape, as well as several monuments erected on the grounds. It is surprising to some that this complex is not already designated a historic district. Given its strong sense of place and historic significance, HDC strongly endorses the designation of the Sailors’ Snug Harbor Historic District.


Staten Island Group 1, Item F


LP – 0375

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 2832, Lot 12

St John

This charming rectory is believed to pre-date the adjacent St. John’s Church, an individual landmark that was completed in 1871. According to the designation report for the church, the rectory was designed by the same architect as the church, Arthur Gilman, and completed in 1862. The Victorian structure features a stone base and cedar shingles, with projecting bays and carved wood details. The building complements the church’s bucolic Gothic Revival façades, which include granite cladding and a picturesque carved wooden entrance porch. When the church was designated in 1974, the rectory was omitted due to the church leadership’s plans to make exterior changes to the building. In 2015, however, the rectory is in fine condition and should take its rightful place as a landmark alongside the church.


Staten Island Group 1 Item G


LP – 1219

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 142, Lot 1


This complex of buildings, all built at separate times, is unified in style. The church building was built first, in 1853, at a time when there was architectural reform in the Episcopal Church. Designs were modified to reflect the English countryside, composed in Gothic forms. The architect of the church, Frank Wills, was considered the master of ecclesiastical architecture in this style. Together with his partner, Henry Dudley, the pair designed several churches across the country. This is the only church of its kind on Staten Island.

The complex of buildings forms a distinct sense of place on a grassy corner lot. The construction uses traditional methods such as buttresses and utilizes natural materials like wood and fieldstone, collectively lending a picturesque experience not found elsewhere in New York City.


Staten Island Group 1 Item H

MARY’S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, 1101 Bay Street, Staten Island

LP – 0370

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 2827, Lot 20

93 St Marys RC5-sm

St. Mary’s sits prominently upon a hill, virtually intact since its construction in 1857, although its surroundings—suburban corporate infill encroaches upon it. It is the second oldest Roman Catholic Church on Staten Island. The church is an instant landmark in its red brick composition and tall central tower, its style elegantly rendered in a North Italian Romanesque style. Landmark status would preserve this 158 year old structure’s place on Bay Street in case this property is ever sold, as the continued subdivision of Staten Island and loss of its history unfortunately prevails.


Staten Island Group 1, Item J


LP – 2245

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 102, Lot 1 (in part)


The Garner Mansion is a majestic and early example of the Second Empire style in New York City, faced with rough brownstone and especially notable for its unusually large size, especially for its pre-Civil War-era construction date. Along with several others on Staten Island being considered as part of the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Backlog95 initiative, it is one of the city’s few freestanding mansions from that time period. It features a four-story tower, porte cochère, a flared mansard roof with arched dormers, and dentilled and bracketed cornices. The house has had a number of uses in its lifetime. It was built in 1859-60 by Charles Taber, a prominent cotton broker and real estate developer, and was purchased a decade later by William T. Garner, owner of one of the largest textile mills in the nation. In the 1880s it housed St. Austin’s Episcopal School for Boys and later St. Austin’s Military Academy. In 1903, St. Vincent’s Hospital took over the mansion as its first location on Staten Island, and soon after added a two-story Colonial Revival style wing to serve as a nurses’ training school. The mansion is now part of Richmond University Medical Center.


Staten Island Group 1, Item K

WOODBROOK (THE JONATHAN GOODHUE HOUSE), 304 Prospect Avenue, Staten Island

LP – 2506

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 100, Lot 30 (in part)


The Italianate style Jonathan Goodhue House is notable for its age, thought to have been constructed in 1841 for Jonathan Goodhue, a wealthy New York merchant who founded the shipping firm of Goodhue & Company. This house served as Goodhue’s country estate, which he named “Woodbrook,” during a time when the area of New Brighton was dotted with such country manses. In 1912, the property was donated to the Children’s Aid Society and the 42-acre site remains in operation under the Children’s Aid Society Goodhue Center. The building’s stately quoining, molded window surrounds, bracketed cornice, and cubical form make it an outstanding record and an anchor for a much-changed neighborhood and borough.


Staten Island Group 2 Item B

FOUNTAIN FAMILY GRAVEYARD, Richmond and Clove Roads, Staten Island

LP – 0355

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 828, Lot 100


Established as a burial ground of the Clove Baptist Church, which formed in 1809 and was abandoned in the 1840s, this small gravesite contains the remains of approximately 50 people, several of whom were members of an old Staten Island family, the Fountains. The site was never called the Fountain Family Graveyard, however, but was and is known as the Old Clove Baptist Cemetery. When the site was first considered for landmark status in 1966, the graveyard was intact, but after the construction of the Staten Island Expressway and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, a highway service road was constructed next to the cemetery and almost all of the grave stones were destroyed. The Parks Department now owns the site, and the Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island erected a sign to mark its location. The burials remain intact under the ground, and given the historic and sacred nature of the site, protection would be welcome to prevent any future insensitive development or changes.


Staten Island Group 2, Item C

LAKEMAN HOUSE, 2286 Richmond Road, Staten Island

LP – 2444

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 3618, Lot 7

Lakeman House-2286 Richmond Road-5-sm

The Historic Districts Council is glad to support the designation of the Lakeman House, an extraordinary survivor from Staten Island’s early days, and one of the borough’s oldest houses. Its Dutch Colonial form was recently revealed after an extensive restoration. The historic farmhouse has two parts: a small one-story wing to the east and the larger two-story wing, which is probably the earlier structure. The restoration brought back the building’s residential character with the installation of historically appropriate roofs and the unveiling of its striking, irregularly-shaped fieldstone walls. The building is surprisingly large for the period, probably dating to before 1700, and its ownership history is well documented, lending an added layer of integrity. The house provides a link to a very distant past, which is a remarkable gift to New York City, and we urge its designation.


Staten Island Group 2, Item D

NICOLAS KILLMEYER STORE & RESIDENCE, 4321 Arthur Kill Road, Staten Island

LP – 1874

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 7400, Lot 1

Nicholas Killmeyer Store and Residence-4321 Arthur Kill Road-1-sm

The Nicholas Killmeyer Store & Residence is a rare building type in Staten Island and city-wide, as it was purpose-built with a storefront in the ground floor of a Second Empire residential style building. This building deserves to be individually landmarked as there is only one other clapboard Second Empire building in Staten Island that is protected, the Bedell House, which was seriously compromised in 2005 by its owner, who purposefully removed all of its ornament after it was calendared by the Commission.

The Killmeyer Store & Residence, by contrast, retains a high degree of architectural integrity. Its distinguishing features include original two-over-two double-hung wooden sash with molded window surrounds on the ground floor and original windows with segmental arched dormers with molded hoods on the third story; cornice with scrolled brackets; a flared mansard roof with historic hexagonal slate shingles with contrasting rosettes applied in red and yellow slate; original wooden storefront with paneled bulkheads and glass transom; original double door entry; and chimneys made of Kreischer brick, a local industry directly tied to the history of the house.

Nicholas Killmeyer emigrated from Prussia in 1850 and was employed by the Kreischer Brick Manufacturing Company, who mined clay in New Jersey. Killmeyer was responsible for finding clay deposits in Staten Island, and effectually moved much of the brick business to this area. This alignment with Kreischer resulted in Killmeyer’s opening of a boarding house and a grocery for the company. Killmeyer’s success was furthered in the establishment of the Killmeyer Union Hotel and Saloon, all altered, except for this store which survives intact.

This building is a record of Staten Island’s early brick industry and development, and also a rare example of a Second Empire residence and storefront. This building style once proliferated on the South Shore of Staten Island, but is now rare. None that remain have as many of their original features as this structure.


Staten Island Group 2 Item E

RICHMOND COUNTY COUNTRY CLUB, 135 Flagg Place, Staten Island

LP – 0356

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 888, Lot 18


The Richmond County Country Club is one of the rare surviving antebellum mansions in Staten Island. Originally attributed to Agatha Mayer (or Meyer), the house dates to the 1840s or 1850s. Later, the residence was purchased by Junius Alexander, who, after several ventures in the South and Midwest, made a fortune on Wall Street and also had several railroad connections. Alexander named the house “Effingham” after his family origins in Virginia and lived with his family in this house from 1878 until his death in 1893. Shortly after his death, the Richmond County Country Club, formed in 1888, acquired the property and has used it continuously ever since. While the original 35 acres of the estate have been devoured by sprawl, the house survives as a noble testament to Staten Island’s early illustrious families.


Staten Island Group 2, Item G

VANDERBILT MAUSOLEUM & CEMETERY, Richmond Road & Altamont Street, Staten Island

LP – 1208

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 934, Lot 250


Cornelius Vanderbilt and his son William Henry Vanderbilt donated roughly 12 acres (which was subsequently greatly expanded) for Moravian Cemetery. The Vanderbilts, who remain one of Staten Island’s – and the country’s – most famous families, set aside a private section of the cemetery and commissioned this grand mausoleum, which was constructed in 1881-89. The mausoleum was designed by Richard Morris Hunt, a noted architect and the first American to study at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. As such, Hunt was one of the key champions of the Beaux-Arts style in this country. His extant works are rare in New York City, but include the Fifth Avenue façade of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Vanderbilts’ choice of Hunt is fitting, as they also hired him to design several of the family’s mansions along the eastern seaboard.

Designed in the Romanesque Revival style, the stone mausoleum abounds in round arches, intricate carvings and is capped by two small domes. A grand stone arch with an inset iron gate, referencing the arches of the mausoleum beyond, marks the entrance to the Vanderbilt’s private cemetery lot. The surrounding landscape was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, considered to be the father of landscape architecture in America, who often collaborated with Hunt. In fact, their collaboration on the mausoleum and its grounds would inspire the Vanderbilts to hire the pair to design the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, perhaps the most famous landmark associated with the Vanderbilt family in this country. This magnificent mausoleum is significant on many levels, and is wholly deserving of landmark status to ensure its protection into the future.


Staten Island Group 3 Item B

3833 AMBOY ROAD HOUSE, Staten Island

LP – 2228

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 4633, Lot 273

3833 Amboy Road-4-sm

3833 Amboy Road is an increasingly rare reminder of Staten Island’s rural past. A smaller, earlier, gable-roofed, clapboarded house was apparently expanded around 1840 to create the current farmhouse. Details were added at this time including a paneled door with sidelights, a dentilled cornice and end chimneys, and 6 over 6 and 3 over 3 wooden sash. Its 19th-century occupants, a farmer and later an oysterman, reflect the agricultural heritage of Staten Island, as does the antique well pump still present in the front yard.

Amboy Road is a hodge-podge of strip mall development and cruelly altered historic homes. This house has survived, due to the careful maintenance of its owner, whom we thank. It is one of a kind, and there is no equal. We implore LPC to apply the same standards of designation to meritorious properties in Richmond County as applied in the rest of the boroughs.


Staten Island Group 3 Item C

5466 Arthur Kill Road House, Staten Island

LP – 2251

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 8029, Lot 1

5466 Arthur Kill Road-2-sm

Within a desert of vinyl siding, oversized Palladian windows and stucco quoins found on the Reuben and Mary Wood House provides a welcome oasis. The house has been preserved intact just as it appeared in 1852. The clapboard-clad house retains all of its historic details including window lintels and sills, shutters, door surround, lacey bargeboards and brick chimney. The house’s symmetrically-planned center hall and side-gabled roof fronted by a cross gable, is an example of a once-common, now rare mid-19th century rural house type, its details applied in an unusual mix of Greek Revival, Gothic and Italianate styles. This house, while in need of care, has an imposing presence on its corner lot. The craftsmanship of the woodwork is fascinating in its beauty, and also because it has survived on this structure on this piece of land for 163 years.


Staten Island Group 3 Item E

BROUGHAM COTTAGE, 4746 Amboy Road, Staten Island

LP – 2068

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 5391, Lot 2

Brougham Cottage-4746 Amboy Road-3-sm

This cottage is a living testament to the changing character of Staten Island. The most distinctive feature of its original one-story section, dating from the early part of the 18th century, is the substantial stone chimney that recalls the Island’s once-rural quality. Eventually, when development began in earnest, the house was used as an office to sell land as part of a housing development. Now located in a park, and managed by the Historic House Trust, it is deserving of landmark status for its long history, as well as its rustic charm.


Staten Island Group 3 Item F

DOROTHY DAY HISTORIC SITE, 457 Poillon Avenue, Staten Island

LP – 2092

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 6431, Lot 1

Despite the cultural and religious significance of the cottage inhabited by journalist and social activist Dorothy Day at Spanish Camp, its demolition after an intense preservation battle in the late 1990s and early 2000s unfortunately means there is no longer a building to designate. While the Spanish Camp is a site with multiple layers of significance, the new construction in the area has obliterated the natural setting and modest cottages. This unhappy preservation saga should stand as a warning against making non-binding agreements with real estate developers in the attempt to protect buildings.


Staten Island Group 3 Item G

PRINCE’S BAY LIGHTHOUSE & KEEPER’S HOUSE, Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island

LP – 0392

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 7644, Lot 1

Princes Bay Lighthouse-17-sm

There has continuously been a lighthouse on this site since as early as 1826, with the current structure dating to 1864. For the past 151 years, this lighthouse and keeper’s quarters have weathered the sea, and with grace, as the rusticated brownstone still reads as crisp.

Lighthouses are landmarks in every sense of the word: they withstand the test of time and harsh elements, and demarcate the relationship between town and sea. New York City’s rivers and harbors have an abundance of lighthouses, yet few are visible to the public and are honored as individual landmarks. This lighthouse is now owned by New York State, and set within a public park known as the Mount Loretto Unique Area. The hike up to the lighthouse is a destination and a specific draw of the park, which commands views of Raritan Bay from the highest point in the park. When originally heard by LPC in 1966, the site was operated as a Catholic Orphanage, Mount Loretto. Given its private use and ownership at that time, it may not have been the right time to become a landmark.

Designated lights in New York City include Jeffrey’s Hook in Manhattan (the “Little Red Lighthouse”); Roosevelt Island Light; and New Dorp and Staten Island Lights. Princes Bay Light deserves to be added to this list, and to be afforded the recognition and regulation that landmarks benefits from to ensure its place on the bay for years to come.


Staten Island Group 3 Item H


LP – 1866

Landmark Site: Staten Island Block 7915, Lot 1

St. Pauls ME Church-7558 Amboy Road-3-sm

St. Paul’s is one of the oldest churches in Tottenville, completed in 1862. Sited on a corner lot, this distinguished church anchors this thoroughfare in what is considered to be the center of town for this area. The solid masonry construction and Romanesque Revival style of the church was a departure from the simplified forms of the churches that preceded it. This virtually intact structure deserves to be landmarked, to ensure its continued presence on Amboy Road.


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Continuing Education: The Landmarks Preservation Commission Process

LandmarksSharpen your skills with our team of seasoned professionals |

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

10:00 am-12:00 pm

Neighborhood Preservation Center, 232 East 11th Street 10003

The Historic Districts Council is pleased to host a Continuing Education panel on the Landmarks Preservation Commission Process. Daniel Allen, HDC President and principal at CTA Architects and William Neeley staff member at LPC will discuss the process of landmarking and permitting. Mr. Neely will explain the mission of the LPC and how staff and commissioners review each of the Certificates of Appropriateness (CofAs ) for proposed work to landmark structures. Mr. Allen will explain how applicants prepare for CofA approval.  He will cover documentary research, investigation of existing conditions, preparation of drawings and material sample selection. Both will give examples of approval drawings on case studies and examples of completed successful LPC regulated projects. Two AIA Learning Units and Health, Safety, Welfare continuing education credits are available for AIA members.


2 LU / HSW Credits

Friends of HDC- $30

General Admission- $40

General No Credit- $15

Pride of Lions Biographies

Posted by on Monday, October 19, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Lisa Ackerman (2007): Lisa has longtime roots in international preservation, art history and grant-making.  She is an internationally-known expert in heritage conservation in Europe and the Middle East.

Full Bio

Lisa Ackerman was named Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of World Monuments Fund in 2007. Previously Ms. Ackerman served as Executive Vice President of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. Ms. Ackerman holds a B.A. from Middlebury College, an M.S. in historic preservation from Pratt Institute, and an M.B.A. from New York University. Ms. Ackerman serves on the boards of Historic House Trust of New York City, New York Preservation Archive Project, and US/ICOMOS. In 2007 she received the Historic District Council’s Landmarks Lion award and in 2008, Ms. Ackerman was named the first recipient of the US/ICOMOS Ann Webster Smith Award for International Heritage Achievement.

Ms. Ackerman has devoted her time and energy to many preservation organizations, currently serving on the boards of the New York Preservation Archive Project and the Historic House Trust of New York City. She is a former trustee of Partners for Sacred Places, US/ICOMOS and St. Ann’s Center for Restoration and the Arts. Additionally, from 1999 to 2006 she served on the board of advisers of the Neighborhood Preservation Center, home of HDC and several other preservation groups, and was one of the individuals responsible for making the Center a reality.


Kent Barwick (1997): Kent has been involved in as a leader or adviser on almost every major preservation campaign in New York City since before Mayor Koch appointed him as chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1978.

Full Bio

Kent Barwick, a figure synonymous with historic preservation in New York City, is  a past president of the Municipal Art Society and a former Chairman of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.  He has devoted more than 40 years to advancing historic preservation in New York and his work stands behind scores of landmarks and historic districts, including the Daily News Building, the Longwood Historic District, the Richmond County Courthouse, the Greenpoint Historic District, and Pratt Institute.  A preservationist with an eye to the future, Mr. Barwick was also a major force in the renaissance of Times Square, which was saved from becoming a lackluster canyon of office towers through new zoning and the designation of its historic theaters. He holds a special passion for New York’s historic waterfront and has instrumental in numerous community-driven efforts to revitalize and reactivate our city’s vast and neglected edge.


Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners (2004) : For over 40 years, BBB has been the architecture firm which has handled most of the major preservation projects in New York City, including the rebirth of Grand Central Terminal, etc., etc.

Full Bio

Recognized for excellence and integrity in architectural design, historic preservation, interior design, urban design and master planning, Beyer Blinder Belle is a firm of 150 professionals, with offices in New York City, Washington DC, and Beijing, China.

The firm began its practice in 1968 with the belief that cities thrive on the dynamic interaction between past and present. In 1980, James Marston Fitch joined the firm as its first Director of Historic Preservation.

Beyer Blinder Belle has been an innovator in expanding the definition of preservation by creating new life in historic structures, respecting the spirit and context of the original, yet incorporating the material, operational and perceptual realities of the 21st century. The firm’s new buildings combine inventive design and advanced technology with a well-rooted sense of identity. The Design Build Division extends the firm’s commitment to innovation in design and integrity in construction.

Museums, educational facilities, transit centers, houses of worship, theaters and large-scale urban planning projects are among the diverse project types for which Beyer Blinder Belle is known, in addition to commercial and mixed-use developments, residential complexes and governmental buildings. Beyer Blinder Belle is deeply committed to sustainability and stewardship. Respect for resources, both cultural and material, is interwoven into the firm’s mission. The firm has received numerous awards, including two from Time Magazine for Design of the Year.


Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel (2011) : Barbaralee has served as a defining voice on major urban issues of our time, including the historic built environment of our city, state and country.

Full Bio

Barbaralee has served as a defining voice on major urban issues of our time, including the historic built environment of our city, state and country. She is a pioneering champion of the arts, serving as the first Director of Cultural Affairs for New York City and as the longest-term Landmarks Commissioner in the city’s history, spanning four mayoral administrations. She was the Chair of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Foundation and since 1995 is the Chair of the Historic Landmarks Preservation Center. Barbaralee also served ten years on the United States Commission on Fine Arts and was the first woman to be appointed to Vice-Chair in its 110-year history. A founding Director of the High Line, she is currently a Director of the Trust for the National Mall and a Commissioner of the American Battle Monuments Commission. Barbaralee’s definitive book “Landmarks of New York” is an irreplaceable resource for anyone interested in our city’s remarkable built heritage. She created the “Historic District Street Sign” program over 20 years ago and her Cultural Medallion program informs New Yorkers and visitors about otherwise unnoticed landmarks. Her exhibit “The Landmarks of New York” has toured 82 countries on five continents, bringing awareness and appreciation of NYC’s remarkable built environment to audiences around the world. Barbaralee’s newest book, her 20th, “Landmarks of New York V” will be published this fall.  It describes each of New York City’s 1,287 individually-designated landmarks and 102 designated historic districts. To accompany its publication, Barabalee curated a new exhibition on New York City’s historic architecture which will tour 11 cities in New York State.


Joan K. Davidson (1995) : Joan has been a leader and funder for grassroots preservation efforts throughout New York City and New York State.

Full Bio

Without Joan’s leadership, vision, and personal encouragement, New York City’s preservation movement would only be a shadow of its vital and vibrant self.  Joan Davidson continues to lead the way and inspire us through her work.  She has done so much for grassroots preservation as President of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, and for the State of New York during her all too brief time as Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation.


Andrew Scott Dolkart (2014) : Andrew is the architectural historian of record for New York City’s landmarks and historic districts. As head of the Columbia GSAPP, he is educating a new generation of preservationists.

Full Bio

Architectural historian and preservationist Andrew S. Dolkart is the Director of the Historic Preservation Program at the Columbia University School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.  He has been active in preservation in New York for several decades.  His research work focuses on the architecture and development of New York City, with special emphasis on the layering of architecture and history in New York’s neighborhoods and on city’s overlooked building types.  He is the author of the award-winning Morningside Heights: A History of Its Architecture and Development and Biography of a Tenement House in New York City: An Architectural History of 97 Orchard Street.  His most recent book, The Row House Reborn: Architecture and Neighborhoods in New York City, 1908-1929 was published in 2009.  He is currently working on a book and exhibition tracing the architecture and development of New York’s Garment District.


Kenneth K. Fisher (2002) :

Full Bio

During his ten-year term in City Council representing that area, Ken was a tremendous supporter of preservation – both in his district and throughout the city. He was responsible for the establishment of the Vinegar Hill Historic District, as well as the DUMBO/Old Brooklyn Waterfront National Register district which have helped bring economic development to these neglected areas while safeguarding some of the most historic stretches of New York City waterfront and maintaining their unique industrial character. As Chair of the Landmarks, Public Siting & Maritime Uses Subcommittee, he led his Council colleagues in assuming responsibility under the 1990 City Charter for reviewing designations of individual landmarks and historic districts. He sponsored legislation that finally brought teeth to the Landmarks Law, and commissioned the Independent Budget Office to analyze property values in residential historic districts — proving that designation boosts the social and economic health of neighborhoods. Ken helped found the Brooklyn High School for the Arts which initiated an emphasis on the built environment and preservation trades which is still being followed in NYC public schools. Since leaving public service in 2001, Ken has continued to be involved in public policy as a legal advisor, public speaker and host of a monthly television show on public affairs.


Dr. James Marston Fitch (1998) :

Full Bio

Dr. Fitch was,  for decades,  a leading authority in the United States in the field of historic preservation.  He was the founder and director of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation at both Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania.  As a noted architect, who studied at the University of Alabama and Tulane University, Dr. Fitch established Beyer Blinder Belle’s unique design and development approach to preservation.  An acclaimed writer, he served as Associate Editor of Architectural Record and Architectural Forum and published well over 200 books, articles, reports, reviews, and other communications on architecture and preservation in the U.S. and abroad.  Dr. Fitch’s 70 year career exemplified extraordinary dedication to the preservation of the built environment and to the field of historic preservation.


Margot Gayle (1993):

Full Bio

Margot Gayle, founder of the Friends of Cast Iron Architecture,  is hailed worldwide as the savior of this treasured but threatened building type.  In New York City she led the drive to designate the Soho Cast Iron Historic District, bringing the protection of the Landmarks Law to the world’s largest collection of buildings with cast-iron fronts.  Since its landmark designation in 1973 as an historic district, the Soho area, formerly a manufacturing and warehouse neighborhood, has become an internationally renowned center for modern art.  In addition to numerous articles and books on the history and maintenance of historic metalwork including cast iron, Margot Gayle is the author of Cast Iron Architecture in New York, the encyclopedia on the subject.


Roberta Brandes Gratz (2012)

Full Bio

Roberta is known for her deep knowledge and expertise about preservation and urbanism, both within New York City and across the country. She is a nationally-respected leader in promoting preservation practices and policies for the revitalization of urban areas. She coined the term, “Urban Husbandry,” for her first book, The Living City, to describe the process by which urban neighborhoods and downtowns can regenerate from economic stagnation by “thinking small in a big way.” She also coined the term “SoHo Syndrome” for her second book, Cities Back From the Edge, to identify the process unfolding in onetime industrial neighborhoods in cities across the country and abroad. Roberta has also been an active presence in preservation efforts in New York City and elsewhere, particularly the fight to save and designate the Broadway theaters and opposition to Westway. She served on the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission from 2003 to 2010, participating in some of the biggest preservation issues of our time. Roberta is the founder and President Emeritus of the Eldridge Street Project, an award-winning effort that restored the historic Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side and established The Eldridge Street Museum on the site. In 2005, in collaboration with the legendary Jane Jacobs, she founded The Center for the Living City, which promotes increased civic engagement among those who care deeply for their communities. Roberta lectures internationally on urban development. Her publications, including The Battle For Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs; Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown; and The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way, detail how cities actually revitalize themselves and the importance that preservation plays in the life of our cities. She is currently writing a book on post-Katrina recovery in New Orleans.


Hugh & Tiziana Hardy (2013) :

Full Bio

Hugh and Tiziana have been involved for decades in preservation and the way we adapt and preserve building. Each in their own way has helped to shape the movement, leading the way in saving and appreciating some of New York City’s most significant buildings. Hugh is widely known for his work restoring and adapting world-class landmarks such as the New Amsterdam and New Victory Theaters, Radio City Music Hall, Central Synagogue and Bryant Park, just to name a few. He has designed sensitive and world-class additions for the Brooklyn Academy of Music and Lincoln Center, seamlessly blending old and new. Tiziana led community efforts to designate the eclectic and historic neighborhood of NoHo, filled with cast-iron storefronts, Victorian-era lofts, and the only Louis Sullivan-designed building in New York City, the exuberant Bayard-Condict Building. Trained as an architect, she renovated historic brownstones in Harlem as well as designing the interiors of her own family’s homes.  Both of these individuals are powerful voices for the need for historic preservation as a force that helps New York City remain vibrant.


Kitty Carlisle Hart (2003) :

Full Bio

This year, HDC celebrates Kitty Carlisle Hart, a longtime champion of preservation and cultural organizations across New York State.  While chair of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) from 1976-1996, Mrs. Hart directed many millions of dollars in support to preservation projects from the Niagara Frontier to Staten Island.  Through her strong advocacy under four governors, during good economic times and bad, she fought to keep historic preservation as a core program of NYSCA, the only arts council in America that provides such funding.  In addition to her twenty-year stewardship of NYSCA, Mrs. Hart supports the cultural life of New York City by actively serving on the boards of such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art.


Barry Lewis (2005) :

Full Bio

The New York Times has called Barry “as informed a companion as anyone could wish.” For over 25 years, Barry Lewis has been educating New Yorkers and visitors alike on the incredible variety of architectural, social and cultural history that New York offers. Lewis is best known, along with host David Hartman, for the Emmy Award-nominated “A Walk Through…” television series on WNET/Thirteen where Lewis and Hartman traverse historic neighborhoods around the city. This program, one of the most popular in Thirteen’s local line-up, includes “walks” through Queens, Brooklyn, Central Park, Harlem, Greenwich Village, Hoboken, Newark and down Broadway and 42nd Street. Filming for an episode highlighting The Bronx is began in October 2005. HDC is honoring Barry for his achievements in bringing to light the historical, architectural and cultural riches that make each New York neighborhood unique. A professor of architectural history at The Cooper Union Forum and the New York School of Interior Design, Lewis has also delivered speeches to distinguished audiences at Harvard University, Columbia University, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the Smithsonian Institution, and Cushman and Wakefield, among others. Lewis has a devoted following who look forward to his programs and lectures highlighting both well-known neighborhoods and hidden gems of the city.


Joyce Matz (2000) :

Full Bio

Highlights of her preservation portfolio include City & Suburban Homes, Town Hall, the Beacon Theatre, the Universalist Church and St. Bartholomew’s.  She helped in the fight to prevent tower additions to the New-York Historical Society and the Metropolitan Club.  As a private citizen, Ms. Matz has devoted years of service to the Landmarks Committee of Manhattan Community Board #5, where her efforts included the designation of the Broadway theaters and Rockefeller Center.


Walter B. Melvin (2008) :

Full Bio

Mr. Melvin and his firm have spent over 30 years preserving and restoring some of New York’s most noted historic neighborhoods and buildings. He is known for his work on important institutional and civic buildings such as The Frick Collection, The Cloisters, the Jewish Museum, General Theological Seminary, Grace Church, and the New York Public Library’s famous Lions Patience and Fortitude. He is equally renowned for the large number of residential buildings he has restored. Grand apartment houses by such figures as Rosario Candela, James Carpenter and Emery Roth line his project list and he has worked on such storied apartment buildings as the Dakota, San Remo, Alwyn Court and Kips Bay Towers. Buildings big and small from Manhattan’s Riverside Drive to Staten Island’s North Shore have benefited from his expertise.


Dorothy Marie Miner (2001) :

Full Bio

This year, HDC celebrates Dorothy Marie Miner for her decades of service in defending the integrity of the New York City Landmarks Law and strengthening the practice and interpretation of historic preservation law nation-wide. As long-time Counsel to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, Dorothy helped protect the New York City Landmarks Law from some of its greatest challenges and her work has strengthened the Law and shaped how it is interpreted today. She contributed greatly to the milestone cases of Penn Central v. the City of New York City which upheld the integrity of the Landmarks Law in the U.S. Supreme Court, and St. Bartholomew’s Church v. the City of New York, which defended the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s right to regulate designated religious properties. Since leaving public practice, Dorothy has devoted herself to strengthening historic preservation law on a state, national and international level – working closely with organizations such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation League of New York State, as well as educating the next generation of preservationists.


Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Pike (2009) :

Full Bio

Rev. Pike is well known in the preservation field for his longtime leadership. He has been involved with countless preservation and community groups, all the while leading Calvary-St. George’s Church for more than 30 years. He served on the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission from 1991 until 2006, helping protect numerous designated landmarks across the city. He assisted in the creation of the New York Landmarks Conservancy’s Sacred Sites Program and also serves on The Conservancy’s board today. He was a founding trustee of Partners for Sacred Places, where he currently serves as chair emeritus, and he also serves on the board of the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. In the past, Rev. Pike has served on the boards of the Preservation League of New York State, Partnership for the Homeless, and the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. He has been a resident of the Gramercy Park neighborhood for four decades and in 2006, became a trustee of Gramercy Park.


Arlene Simon (1994) :

Full Bio

For over a decade, Arlene Simon has devoted herself to the West Side, to landmarks preservation, and to the City of New York.  Whether leading the successful effort to achieve landmark status for the “Best of the West” or fighting the good fight for transitional zoning, Arlene’s creativity and tenacity have set the standard for preservationists everywhere.  Generous with her knowledge, networks, and passion, her advocacy for preservation has touched all corners of our City.


Robert Silman (2006) :

Full Bio

Mr. Silman is a national preservation champion and generous advocate for New York City’s historic buildings. Since its inception in 1966, his firm, Robert Silman Associates, has consulted on more than 13,000 architectural projects, mostly in historic buildings. Notable projects in New York City include Ellis Island, Radio City Music Hall, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the American Museum of Natural History, the Guggenheim Museum and the Bethesda Fountain in Central Park.


Robert A. M. Stern (2010) :

Full Bio

Mr. Stern, during four decades of running his own Midtown Manhattan firm, writing definitive books and leading Ivy League graduate programs, has tirelessly helped save historic architecture in every New York borough. Dean of the Yale School of Architecture since 1998, he has also headed Columbia’s preservation program, co-written books about New York’s architectural evolution from the Civil War to the 21st century, and fought high-profile battles for endangered buildings. His five-volume New York series, spanning from New York 1880 to New York 2000, explores our city’s architecture in all its geographic and stylistic diversity: from Downtown’s Art Deco spires to leafy Tudor suburbs in The Bronx, Victorian boathouses on stilts at the Staten Island coast, and avant-garde airline terminals. As founder and senior partner of the 230-person Robert A.M. Stern Architects, he directs the design of projects across the U.S. and as far afield as France, India, and China. Out of respect for existing contexts as varied as Columbia’s campus and the gardens of Wave Hill in Riverdale, the firm has added neighborly structures that honor, rather than defy, the spirit of the places in which they are built. Recent high-profile New York projects have ranged from sympathetic renovations to the 1978 Kaufman Center performing-arts complex on West 67th Street in Manhattan to the rebirth of an abandoned 1880s brick public school on Patchen Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mr. Stern has also fought to save other architects’ innovations, including modernist works by the likes of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Harrison & Abramovitz, and Edward Durell Stone.


Anthony C. Wood (1999) :

Full Bio

Tony’s leadership of HDC is but one facet of his admirably productive career.  Tony’s activism and influence – as policy expert, writer, educator, advisor, trustee, and funder – advances the cause of historic preservation far beyond New York City.  From grassroots organizing to civic groups, through the Preservation League of New York State, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Partners for Sacred Places and countless stops along the way, few others are as well-traveled as Tony in the world of preservation.


Category: Event, Program & Events · Tags:

HDC@LPC Testimony for LPC Hearing on October 20, 2015

Posted by on Monday, October 19, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.


Item 17


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

168487 – Block 545, lot 59-

1-11 Astor Place – NoHo Historic District

A neo-Grec style hotel, boarding house and store building, designed by Starkweather & Gibbs and constructed in 1881-83, and a Classical Revival style office building, designed by W. H. Gompert and built in 1908-09. Application is to replace windows.

1-11 Astor Place-original windows

1-11 Astor Place-proposed windows

HDC feels that this project would only perpetuate and solidify an inappropriate alteration to these grand structures. The existing windows, when installed, represented an inappropriate change to the overall composition of the building. Therefore, we feel that an opportunity presents itself here to bring this building back by replacing these inappropriate windows with ones that better reflect the historic fenestration. Double-hung windows, like those historically found here, would be a better choice. When it comes to the installation of air conditioning units, we feel that thru-window units are preferable in order to preserve the myriad decorative features on these buildings, and a permanent horizontal mullion in the new windows could accommodate them nicely. In any event, we would prefer that only horizontal mullions be approved here.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 19


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

174781 – Block 487, lot 20-

399 West Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

A group of four Federal style buildings built in 1819 and a commercial building built c. 1860. Application is to install storefront infill and signage.

399 W Bway-North elevation

HDC objects to the homogenization of these buildings by installing uniform storefronts, as they would undercut the solidity of a traditional building type from the early 19th century. We ask that further effort be made to distinguish these buildings as separate structures.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 22


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

168731 – Block 529, lot 33-

49 Bond Street – NoHo Extension Historic District

A Federal/Greek Revival style residence built c. 1830 and altered c. 1882. Application is to alter the rear façade.

49 Bond Street

Considering that this building’s rear façade has already suffered from some inappropriate alterations, HDC finds the loss of a window on the top floor to be a step further in the wrong direction. Therefore, we find the previously approved configuration to be far preferable.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 23


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

174512 – Block 587, lot 66-

17 Commerce Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

A Federal style house built in 1830. Application is to alter the roof, construct a dormer, and install rooftop mechanical units.

17 Commerce Street-front

17 Commerce Street-rear

Given the age of this building, HDC feels that every effort should be made to minimize the number of punctures made to the historic fabric and the roofline. So, we would ask whether a more sympathetic location could be found for the mechanicals, such as above the rear extension, and would suggest that instead of replacing the skylight, the roof be restored and the opening filled in. We also ask that the applicant investigate whether or not the rear dormer is original to the building, and if so, that it be retained.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 25


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

170844 – Block 574, lot 14-

60 West 11th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

A Greek Revival house built in 1843. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and alter the roof.

60 W. 11th Street-front

60 W. 11th Street-rear

Our committee felt that, given that this is a rear façade, the proposed design could benefit from a simplification of details and materials. We also noted that the rear dormer could potentially come down in height so as not to be seen from any angle on the front and to avoid raising the chimneys quite so much. We do, however, appreciate the restorative work to the top floor of the rear.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , ,

Continuing Education – Stone Restoration Class

Posted by on Thursday, October 15, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Hands-on stone restoration class 2 LU/HSW AIA credits |

Temple of Dendur

Thursday, October 15, 2015

12:00 pm- 2:00 pm

Join HDC at A. Ottavino Corporation for a special stone restoration and conservation class! This continuing education class provide an overview and history of the stone industry and demonstrations of stone carving. Attendees will learn how stone reacts in varying weather patterns depending on its properties. The class will also include a demonstration of dutchman stone repair, demonstration of tooling, and hands-on lesson in drafting a stone margin.


Founded in 1913, A. Ottavino Corporation is a family owned and operated business specializing in new contruction, building restoration, fine art conservation and stone fabrication. The facility is unique in the Tri-State area for their ability to create, restore, dismantle, reconstruct and conserve ornate and monumental stone with our in house facilities and artisans. Noted credits for A. Ottavino Corp included the restoration of the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the restoration of the Brooklyn Appellate Court and the Whitney Museum, among others.



Friends- $50 ; General Admission $75

2 LU/HSW AIA credits available to AIA members


To purchase tickets click here 



Category: Architect Panel, Program & Events · Tags:

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on October 13, 2015

Posted by on Friday, October 9, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.


Item 4



174063- Block 238, lot 1-

129 Pierrepont Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

A clubhouse building designed by Frank Freeman and built in 1906. Application is to alter the facades and areaway, replace storefront infill, and install cooling towers at the roof.

129 Pierrepont-1

129 Pierrepont-2

This remarkably formal, Beaux Arts style building located on a prominent corner in Brooklyn Heights should be treated with as much respect as possible. The addition of very large and visible mechanicals at the roof would threaten to undo the symmetry of the building’s facades, and our committee wonders if there is not another way to cool the building that would be less obtrusive. The ground floor intervention seems to be a sensitive design, but we object to the use of a substitute material, in this case GFRC, at eye level. We also ask that the bench design be reconsidered in favor of something that fits better with the character of the building and its context.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 5



174560- Block 1980, lot 33-

112 Gates Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

An Italianate style row house built c. 1866. Application is to reconstruct an existing rear extension, and to construct a stair bulkhead and install HVAC equipment at the roof.

112 Gates Avenue-1

112 Gates Avenue-2

HDC finds the reconstruction of the rear to be a reasonable intervention, but questions the necessity of the bulk on the roof. We oppose the interruption of the roofline with a very visible bulkhead, and wonder if the roof could be accessed using a scuttle, as it likely always has been.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 6



172243- Block 2099, lot 55-

26 South Portland Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District

An Italianate style house designed by Lawrence Kane and built in 1867. Application is to modify the roof install rooftop HVAC units, construct a rear yard deck and alter the rear façade.

26 S Portland

HDC finds the work in the rear to be approvable, but opposes the demolition of the front of the roof, including the dormer, to install a roof deck. The removal of so much historic fabric is not warranted, and would represent a major structural change to the house. HDC would hate to see such an intervention become a standard practice in historic districts.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 8



172314- Block 325, lot 13-

343 Clinton Street – Cobble Hill Historic District

An Italianate style rowhouse built in the early 1850s. Application is to construct a roof deckand rear yard addition, and to alter the areaway.

343 Clinton Ave-1

343 Clinton Ave-2

Consistent with our stance on 26 South Portland Avenue, HDC remains concerned about major changes to rowhouses’ rooflines. In these cases, we wonder if an enlarged dormer would be a more sensitive solution. However, this project is otherwise extremely thoughtful, especially the restoration of the ornament on the front façade. HDC also wishes to commend the applicant firm, a principal of which serves on our Public Review Committee, on the treatment of the rear façade, which could serve as a model for transforming rear elevations on historic rowhouses.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 9



171605- Block 1093, lot 4-

516-518 9th Street – Park Slope Extension Historic District

Two Renaissance Revival style rowhouses, designed by Axel S. Hedman, and built c. 1903. Application is to replace windows; paint windows and cornice; modify an entrance; construct a bulkhead; and install a roof railing.

516-518 9th Street-existing

516-518 9th Street-proposed

HDC asks that, on the windows at street level, the applicant consider the use of wood windows to match the existing profiles, even if double glazed. We also ask that more consideration be given to the special nature of the windows on the parlor floor, as seen in the historic photographs.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 10



167980- Block 1072, lot 14-

848 Carroll Street – Park Slope Historic District

A rowhouse designed by William B. Greenman and built in 1905. Application is to alter windows at the rear façade.

848 Carroll Street

HDC was surprised at the lack of information in this application, and with no argument made for the appropriateness of the proposed work, found the arrangement of the windows to be quite random. Our committee feels that the proposal would benefit from further study to achieve greater symmetry. One larger window on the third floor might be suitable, but two oddly shaped windows does no favors to the façade.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 14


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176065- Block 153, lot 18-

49-51 Chambers Street – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark

A Beaux-Arts style skyscraper and interior designed by Raymond F. Almirall, built in 1908-12. Application is to install an entrance canopy, new window openings, replacement windows, and mechanical equipment at the roof.

49-51 Chambers-1

49-51 Chambers-2

HDC finds the new window openings to be suitable, but has a few comments on other aspects of this proposal. The revolving doors are a protected feature of this Interior Landmark, and are mentioned in the designation report several times. Therefore, HDC asks that they be retained. The entrance canopy should be given further study in favor of a design with greater transparency, like the examples shown on other buildings. HDC also wishes to note that on the curved window bays, the original windows were also curved, a nice feature that would be a welcome reintroduction on this façade.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 16


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

174899- Block 473, lot 1-

462 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

A French Renaissance Revival style store and loft building, designed by John Correja and built in 1879-80. Application is to establish a Master Plan governing the future removal of historic storefront infill and the installation of new storefront infill, flag poles, awnings, signage, and lighting.

462 Broadway

This plan is very sensitive overall. Our only comment would be that the mesh signage seems to obscure some lovely features of this building. Perhaps the applicant could work with the LPC staff to mitigate this impact.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 19


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

176160- Block 1120, lot 23-

1 West 67th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

A neo-Gothic style studio building designed by George M. Pollard and built in 1915-18. Application is to replace windows.

1 West 67th Street

1 West 67th Street-2

This window replacement is reasonable in order to improve the modern functionality of the windows, and is generally nicely executed. We would ask, however, that the center muntin be included in the proposed design, as the removal of this one window division would be antithetical to the rhythm of the building.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 20


BOROUGH OF Manhattan

174860- Block 1382, lot 28-

39 East 67th Street – Upper East Side Historic District

A Beaux-Arts style rowhouse designed by D. & J. Jardine and built in 1876-77 and altered by Ernest Flagg in 1903-04. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, and excavate the rear yard.

39 East 67th Street-1

39 East 67th Street-2

HDC finds the rooftop bulkhead to be way too visible above this very stately building and finds the rear curtain wall to be completely inappropriate here. The loss of historic fabric and interesting architectural details, like the peaked roof of the existing elevator bulkhead and the entire rear façade, is too much to ask, even if the replacements will be executed in fancy materials.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications



Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Preservation in the News

Posted by on Thursday, October 8, 2015 · 1 Comment 

 Preservationist titan Otis Pearsall opposes the landmarking of Green-Wood Cemetery

Brooklyn Daily Eagle By:Lore Croghan

The renowned preservationist told the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) at a hearing Thursday that officials at the celebrated 19th-Century cemetery do an outstanding job of caring for the historic 478-acre graveyard.

He questioned whether it would be a wise use of  the agency’s limited resources to monitor the preservationist efforts of this institution with its history of impeccable behavior.

Click here to read the whole article


New owner shells out $20M for Williamsburgh Savings Bank retail with plan to attract major brand to iconic Brooklyn tower



“The interior of the space is truly fantastic,” said Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s this glorious cathedral to thrift. A lot of very successful retail spaces operate out of landmarked buildings — like Grand Central Terminal. I’m excited that people will actually be using this space again.”

Click here to read the whole article


Frick Museum Abandons Contested Renovation Plan

NY Times By 

The Frick Collection has yielded.

Facing a groundswell of opposition to a proposed renovation that would have eliminated a gated garden to make way for a six-story addition, the museum — long admired for its intimate scale — has decided to abandon those plans and start over from scratch.

“It just became clear to us that it wasn’t going to work,” said a museum official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the board had not yet made the decision final with a vote.

Click here to read the whole article


Revisiting Brooklyn’s Abandoned Admiral’s Row Before It’s Gone

Curbed by Nathan Kensinger

Many abandoned landmarks around the city have been swept up in the current development boom, and Admiral’s Row, while never declared an official New York landmark, is part of this wave of projects. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation announced in May that almost all of the 11 structures along the row would be replaced with a 74,000-square-foot Wegmans grocery store, the first in New York City. For community activists, it is the end of a long battle, with no reprieve in sight.

Click here to read the whole article


What’s Next for New York City’s Many Abandoned Landmarks?

Curbed by Nathan Kensinger

The landmarking process, however, does not guarantee a permanent safe harbor for buildings, and over the years many designees have been lost to decay, demolition, and legal maneuvering. Today, a surprising number of official New York City landmarks are abandoned, having been left to rot for decades, and are in danger of becoming victims of demolition by neglect.

Click here to read the whole article


Despite cries of foul, Seaport building appears headed for the wrecking ball

Downtown Express

Because of the Tin’s precarious state, Hughes had proposed carefully dismantling it and restoring it close to its original state, so the latest news presumably should not change those plans, although not everyone is sure.

“It seems clear to me that the reason the Landmarks application for the Tin Building is not proceeding is because E.D.C. is intending to demolish both it and the New Market building,” Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, wrote in an email to Downtown Express. “The people making decisions are acting in bad faith with regard to the public process and the historic buildings of the Seaport.”

His group, Community Board 1’s Seaport Committee, Save Our Seaport, and others have recently signed onto a draft letter to Mayor de Blasio criticizing the overall Seaport process for ”an egregious absence of transparency.”

Click here to read the whole article


Howard Hughes: Here Comes The Tower

The fight that preservationists and Seaport residents have undertaken to stop the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plan to build a 494-foot hotel/condo tower has just suffered what appears to be a major setback, as the city has declared that two buildings that were part ofthe old Fulton Fish Market, the New Market Building and the landmarked Tin Building, are in danger of collapsing and must be demolished. Efforts to stop the development have, up until this point, focused on the preservation of those two buildings, but now that the Economic Development Corp. has issued a statement saying that they “are supported by piles that have deteriorated to the point that they cannot hold the structures above it,” they could be razed next month.

Click here to read the whole article


Julian Niccolini on the Future of the Four Seasons Restaurant

Forbes by Karla Alindahao

One of New York’s legendary restaurants—the Four Seasons—is in its last season at the Seagram Building. This spring, real estate mogul Aby Rosen, who owns the iconic Mies van der Rohe tower (which has been home to the restaurant since it opened in 1959) filed plans to renovate the Philip Johnson-designed space with the local Landmarks Committee—without informing Four Seasons owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder.

Click here to read the whole article


Council bill would give landmarks agency something new: deadlines

Legislation aims to prevent commission from keeping properties in limbo for decades

Crain’s New York By 

Should the bill pass, it would require the commission to hold a hearing on a structure or property within 180 days of receiving a request to consider it for historic status. The commission would then have another 180 days to vote. If an entire district is being considered, the commission would have a total of two years to make a call. In each case, if no action were taken, the property or district would be removed from the list and could not be resubmitted for five years.

Click here to read the whole article


 Simeon Bankoff: Taking the Context out of Contextual Zoning

City Land

Since their introduction almost 25 years ago, many communities across New York City have looked to contextual zoning to help protect the character of their neighborhoods and encourage appropriate new development which enhances where they call home. These are not fly-by-night efforts; frequently volunteers spend years in meetings with community stakeholders and decision-makers, carefully crafting zoning regulations which correspond with the existing built neighborhood.  More often than not, professional planners and consultants are hired to guide the process, facilitate collaboration with all stakeholders and work with the Department of City Planning to determine if local plans can align with the agency’s citywide mandate.

Click here to read the whole article


‘Citywide Rezoning Plan Would Benefit Developers, Hurt Neighborhoods’


Gotham Gazette by Andrew Berman

The mayor’s ‘Zoning for Quality and Affordability’ plan is not without good points, and its stated goals are worthy of support. But substantial modifications are needed to protect neighborhood character and benefit average New Yorkers before it can live up to its lofty premise, and before it should be considered for adoption.

Click here to read the whole article



‘Zoning Changes Made in Haste Makes For Bad Government’


Sixteen years ago, the Chelsea Plan became a reality. It took years of grinding effort to accomplish. The idea began with Rowena Doyel, founder of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, and Ed Kirkland, Chair of Community Board 4’s Chelsea Planning and Preservation Committee (now called the Chelsea Land Use Committee), and the originator of the (now-disbanded) Landmarks Committee. Tom Duane, then a CB4 member and Co-chair with Kirkland, was tireless in his efforts to guide the Plan to success.

Click here to read the whole article



‘Zoning Process Too Fast For CB4’


“This is a citywide initiative that is being rammed through with not enough time to make even the most basic consideration of what [the department] should be studying,” Compton said.

Click here to read the whole article


Record $71.9 million spent on lobbying New York City officials in 2014: report

Power players are spending more cash than ever to influence city government officials through lobbying, a new city report shows.

Lobbyists brought in $71.9 million to target city government in 2014, a record high, according to the report by the city clerk’s office covering the first year since Mayor de Blasio and the new City Council took office.

Click here to read the whole article


Woodlawn group fights for historical district status

News 12 Bronx

One Bronx neighborhood has made the Historic District Council’s “Six to Celebrate” list.

Woodlawn, which sits in the north central part of the borough, is full of history that many don’t know about. It’s an old neighborhood that started as a community as a direct result of Woodlawn Cemetery.

The group Women of Woodlawn is behind getting Woodlawn chosen for the “Six to Celebrate” program as it strives toward getting the neighborhood recognized for its rich history.

Click here to read the whole article and watch the video of the Women of Woodlawn being interviewed


Op-Ed: No Tower on the Seaport


The mayor said: “We are not embarking on a mission to build towering skyscrapers where they don’t belong. We have a duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods, and we will do so.”

That’s exactly the point we’ve made in our forceful opposition to the inappropriate 494-foot residential tower that the Howard Hughes Corporation has proposed to build in the heart of the South Street Seaport, one of the city’s most uniquely historic areas. While we’re committed to revitalizing the neighborhood, it’s true that we have a duty to protect the historic fabric of the Seaport—a low-rise area ever since it became active three centuries ago—from this kind of irresponsible development proposal.

Chin is the City Council member representing District 1 in Lower Manhattan; Brewer is the Manhattan borough president.

Click here to read the whole article


Next TREASURES OF NEW YORK to Mark 50th Anniversary of NYC Landmarks Law, 2/3

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law, the hour-long documentary Treasures of New York: The Landmarks Preservation Movement, premiering on Tuesday, February 3 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21 and Sunday, February 8 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN, will explore the history and the future of the wide-scale preservation efforts of New York City’s Landmark Commission to protect thousands of culturally and historically significant sites.

Click here to read the whole article


Park Avenue Is About to Get Something It Hasn’t Seen in 40 Years

After decades in deep freeze, New York’s sacred avenue is about to get a new skyscraper

Bloomberg Business By 

he 893-foot (272-meter) tower will rise amid Manhattan’s biggest rush of skyscraper construction since the 1980s, with millions of square feet of offices in such projects as Hudson Yards on the far west side and the World Trade Center downtown. Levinson is building “on spec,” meaning without any tenants signed up. It’s a gamble on the staying power of today’s accelerating demand for space, and a practice that’s had a checkered history in the city, said Lawrence Longua, a retired real estate professor at New York University.

Click here to read the whole article


Down the Block, Deep in the Stacks Nearly 30 Years of Documenting New York

New York Times By 

Michael Sterne, then the Real Estate editor of The New York Times, conceived of the Streetscapes column in 1986, and paid me the compliment of hiring me to write it. Now, with my final column, it may be appropriate to present an apologia for what I hoped to do, and what I have done.

Click here to read the whole article


New York City Landmarks Panel’s Move Upsets Supporters—and Critics

Behind Commission Decision Are Almost 100 Tales of Potential Landmarks

Groups of school children gather a few times a week in front of Catherine and Alfredo De Vido’s 19th-century house on East 85th Street to start a tour about the history of immigrants in the Yorkville neighborhood.

The De Vidos were surprised to learn the city Landmarks Preservation Commission was planning to drop their rare Manhattan wood house from the list of potential landmarks, where it has been lingering since 1966.

Click here to read the whole article


16 Stories o’ Condos Will Replace ‘Plain’ Little Flatiron Building

Curbed by Hana R. Alberts

Even the Historic Districts Council, which veers strongly to the preservation side of preservation vs. development, approved of the demolition, because the existing structure “appeared in pallor compared to the examples provided of the fanciful Ladies Mile-quality buildings in the district.”

Click here to read the whole article


For a Student of the City, It’s Always New

Andrew S. Dolkart: A Chronicler of New York Old and New

New York Times By MATT A.V. CHABAN

If you’re curious about a particular building in New York, odds are that Andrew S. Dolkart knows something about it. Mr. Dolkart, the 62-year-old director of Columbia University’s Historic Preservation program, spends many Sundays wandering the city with his husband, Paris R. Baldacci, 70, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Mr. Dolkart, in recognition of his tireless study of New York old and new — he has written dozens of books and essays, and is working on a book about the garment district — will receive the Historic Districts Council’s Landmarks Lion award on Nov. 19.

Click here to read the whole report


Glass Dome Could Rise Over Union Square’s Landmarked Tammany Hall

By Heather Holland

A major renovation is coming to the former Tammany Hall headquarters in Union Square where owners want to put a new glass dome over the landmarked building and demolish a theater to make way for retail and office space, the project’s architects said.

The historic structure at 44 Union Square East, built in 1929 to house the Democratic Party machine, will undergo a major overhaul that will restore the facade, gut the existing theater and add windows and glassier storefronts, according to BKSK Architects which is designing the project.

The most striking change will be a new 30-foot glass dome on top of the building, which will add about 27,000 square feet to the structure and will house office space, according to Harry Kendall, a partner at BKSK.

Click here to read the whole report


Independent Engineer Report Supports Dismantling the Harlem Watchtower

An independent report on the structural integrity of the watchtower atop Marcus Garvey Park supports the Parks Department’s claim that the tower needs to be taken down as soon as possible.

Preservationists called for the report after finding out that an emergency contract to take down the tower did not mention anything about the restoration process.

Both the Parks Department and the Department of Buildings cited a 2009 report by Thornton Tomasetti when saying the tower needed to come down immediately.

Click here to read the whole article


Community plan to unlock south Bronx waterfront recognized by state

The state Department of Environmental Conservation named the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan, which turns six waterfront patches into boat hubs, flood protectors and parks, to a draft of its ‘Open Space Plan.’


South Bronx residents have been demanding access to the waterfront — and it seems that state leaders have heard.

A plan to transform six parcels in Mott Haven and Port Morris into waterfront parks has been nominated for addition to a statewide list of land conservation projects.

The plan — cooked up by South Bronx Unite — would build boat hubs, restore a historic gantry and pier and install a waterfront trail that spans the Harlem River, the Bronx Kill and the East River.

Click here to read the whole report


Frick Opponents Get Organized

“[The local community] regards this as the museum down the block,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of HDC, whose organization issued a statement in October opposing the plan. “They regard this as a wonderful amenity to their home. The feel very strongly about it.”

HDC cited the destruction of the Russell Page garden and the size of the addition as its major concerns with the proposal, which, its statement said, would “transform The Frick into an institutional environment.”

The fate of the garden is one of the most visible concerns among critics of the expansion, and its salvation is one of Unite to Save the Frick’s top priorities.

Click here to read the whole article


Historic Districts Council Opposes Frick Expansion

New York Times, By 

The Historic Districts Council, which can influence the city’s decisions but has no official role, has come out in opposition to the Frick Collection’s planned expansion, the council announced on Wednesday.

The council’s public review committee — which examines proposals for work on landmark buildings that are to come before the Landmarks Preservation Commission — said in a statement that the proposed expansion “will destroy the design intent of Thomas Hastings’ residential composition and John Russell Pope’s graceful museum transformation.”

Click here to read the whole article


Redevelopment of Former Indigent Farm Community Proposed

Plan for former Farm Colony would entail the demolition five out of eleven historic structures in the district, create senior housing. On September 30, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission considered an application for the redevelopment of theNew York City Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic Districtlocated in Staten Island in the Castleton area. The 45-acre property, which housed indigent and disabled New Yorkers in exchange for labor, operated roughly from 1898 to 1975, and was developed from 1874 to the 1930s. In addition to being a landmarked historic district, the Farm Colony is also zoned in a special natural area district, which mandates the preservation of any unique natural features. The colony’s buildings have been little maintained since its abandonment.

Click here to read the whole article


How to Turn Your Block Into an Historic District

By Nikhita Venugopal

The surge of future development in Brooklyn has made a group of Sunset Parkers think about its past.

When local residents realized the neighborhood’s notable brownstones could be lost to redevelopment, they banded together to save the buildings through a historic district status.

“Sunset Park is in danger of losing its sense of place,” according to the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee’s website.

Click here to read the whole article


City Planning appoints inaugural COO

Crain’s New York, BY 

After the Department of City Planning pledged earlier this year to streamline operations at the agency, it has created and filled a position specifically for that purpose.

Jon Kaufman, a former partner at consulting firm Bain & Co., was appointed the agency’s first chief operating officer Wednesday. While Mr. Kaufman comes from the private sector, he had already volunteered his time earlier this year at City Planning to help analyze the department’s organizational structure—which the de Blasio administration and City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod have pledged to dramatically alter.

“Jon’s appointment underscores the de Blasio administration’s commitment to make our review and approval processes more transparent, more efficient and overall more expeditious,” Mr. Weisbrod said in an email to colleagues announcing the appointment.

Click here to read the whole article


That ‘Temporary’ Frick Garden — It Was Created to Be Permanent

Huffington Post By Charles Birnbaum

This “temporary” idea is an important talking point in the Frick’s justification; the garden’s supposed planned obsolescence is foundational to their argument. There’s only one problem — the Frick created this verdant oasis as “a permanent garden” — at least that’s what the museum’s own February 4, 1977 press release about it states. An anonymous source recently sent me the seven page release (with a note saying “This document is on file at the Frick Art Reference Library”) and directed me to the fourth paragraph on page six — there it is, plain as day: “a permanent garden.”

Click here to read the whole article


Scientists recreate old beer they dug up in Chinatown

New York Post By Natalie O’Neill

A beer bottle from the 1800s was unearthed by archaeologists in Chinatown — inspiring them to revive the rare old brew.

The scientists discovered the glass “California Pop Beer” bottle on Bowery Street near Canal Street, where a popular beer hall, Atlantic Garden, bustled in the 1850s, scientists said.

“It’s a light summer drink, slightly minty and refreshing” said Alyssa Loorya, 44, president of Chrysalis Archaeology, which headed the project.

Click here to read the whole article



Decoding New York: Unearthing Treasures Beneath New York’s Streets


During the dig an old glass bottle was unearthed and the bottle’s label said it had contained ‘California Pop Beer’. Alyssa Loorya followed through and tracked down the original beer patent and then reproduced the beer using a home brewing kit. It’s a beer infused with ginger root, sarsparilla and wintergreen oil and reportedly has quite a kick, see Scientists Recreate Old Beer. You can try it yourself if you do the Historic Districts council ‘Historic Pub Crawl’ to be held Sept 6 at 1.00 pm for just $10. Go here for tickets, Historic Pub Crawl. it’s not everyone who can say they have drunk apart of New York’s past.

Click here to read the whole article


The War on New York’s Waterfront


What we don’t need, in a place whose uniqueness attracts the world, is another sterile development that further reduces Manhattan to an overstuffed version of every other city in the country. It will take time, thought, private investment and, dare we say it, significant public funds. But New Yorkers have done these kinds of bold things before. If you don’t believe us, next time you’re downtown on the East River waterfront, look up. There you’ll see a bridge that somebody managed to sell us.

Click here to read the whole article


As New York City property values surge, historic sites reduced to memories

Reuters By Laila Kearney

As wealthy prospective buyers search for dwindling space to transform into high-end retail or apartment sites, city historians and sentimentalists fear that the shops and restaurants from some of Manhattan’s most notable eras have been marked for extinction.

“New Yorkers are seeing buildings and institutions they thought were going to be there forever disappearing,” said Simeon Bankoff, director of the city’s Historic Districts Council. “It seems to have reached a bit of a fever pitch.”

Click here to read the whole article


Midtown East Steering Committee to Make Everyone Happy

New York Observer by: Tobias Salinger  

Representatives from a mishmash of 11 organizations, including Community Boards 5 and 6, preservation groups like the Historic Districts Council, business organizations like the Grand Central Partnership, urban planning research groups like the Regional Plan Association and the industry’s advocacy group, the Real Estate Board of New York, will figure out a way to jumpstart the 73-block rezoning proposal that died in the City Council last winter.

Click here to read the whole article


Buildings With a Past

Creating New York Apartments From Unlikely Buildings


Land is extremely scarce, they say, and historic districts, which are numerous, make new construction tough. Besides, some old-time structures are far bigger than what zoning would allow on their lots today. Adaptive reuse can also be speedier.

But curb appeal may also have something to do with it. “There’s a general movement now that goes beyond real estate, a reaction to a world that’s become increasingly electronic,” said Toby Moskovits, president of Heritage Equity Partners, which is transforming a church-and-school complex into apartments in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “People are more comfortable,” she added, “with something that feels authentic.”

Click here to read the whole article


 Readers sound off on landmarks

Daily News By: Arthur Levin, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

What the Real Estate Board of New York study cited in this article fails to address is that, according to experts, the single largest factor contributing to the increasing unaffordability of our city is the disappearance of existing affordable housing — a fact acknowledged in Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. Historic districts in fact help preserve and protect thousands of units of affordable housing that might otherwise be lost to demolition.

An objective examination of potential solutions to our city’s housing affordability challenge is not really the agenda of REBNY, a trade association representing developers, which has long lobbied for reducing and eliminating affordable housing protections. The REBNY agenda is to maximize the freedom of its developer members to tear down and build whatever they want, wherever they want.

Click here to read the whole article


Last Night’s Heavy Rainfall Turns Gowanus Canal Into One Big  Toilet Once Again

Pardon Me For Asking

Last night’s heavy rain caused another Combined Sewer Overflow event last night and by 11 PM, much of the waterway was covered with raw sewage.  The smell was unbelievable.  It was too dark to take photos, but I took a walk over both the Union Street and Carroll Street bridges at 6 am this morning, and took some pictures. It was still rather awful and smelly and the bacteria count in the water must have been off the charts.

It is unfathomable to thing that the new residents of the 700 unit Lightstone Group Project at the shores of the canal will have to deal with this every time it rains heavily.

Click here to read the whole article





Save Rizzoli

In the days preceding the ceiling extraction, we had been in communication with Vornado Realty Trust to acquire their permission and insurance requirements for our highly experienced crew to enter the site and remove large portions of the ceiling. By all accounts, they initially supported the endeavor, and everyone appeared to be on board. Our team only awaited the approval of Vornado CEO Steven Roth.

But then on Thursday, as our preservationists prepared to conduct a probe of the ceiling’s material condition, we learned our access to the site had been denied. At the last minute, Steven Roth intervened and thwarted our attempt to preserve the building’s architectural details for posterity.

Click here to read the whole article


Library’s Rose Main Reading Room Closed for Six Months

Plaster Fell From the 52-Foot-Tall Ceiling in May

Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Maloney

The New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room will remain closed for the next six months for inspection and repairs after a plaster rosette fell from its ceiling in May, library officials said Monday.

The reading room is the jewel of the library’s flagship Fifth Avenue building, which draws 2.3 million visits a year. The room’s 52-foot-tall ceilings are adorned with painted clouds and other decorations molded in plaster.

The library Monday didn’t have a cost estimate for the inspection or repairs.

Click here to read the whole article


Mysterious Railroad Relic Unearthed on Governors Island

DNAInfo By Irene Plagianos

A recent dig on Governors Island unearthed a rusty relic of its military history — and island officials aren’t sure what it is.

While working on the island’s sewer systems, excavators found what appears to be part of a railway train car or hand cart once used on the island’s early 20th century railroad system, said Elizabeth Rapuano, a spokeswoman for the Trust for Governors Island.

“It’s a fun surprise — we’ve never found anything like it before,” Rapuano said. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly what it is…we’d love to get responses from the public about [it].”

Click here to read the whole article


Closer look at two significant neighborhoods

This tour was made possible by the Historic Districts Council. It is part of the nonprofit’s “Six To Celebrate,” which offers tours of six areas the group deems worthy of preservation.

“These tours serve to highlight neighborhoods that many New Yorkers are unaware of to shine a light on unknown aspects of their history or built environment,” said Barbara Zay of HDC.

The Forest Close Association its neighborhood for the honor. Forest Close is a group of 1927 rowhouses bounded by 75th Road, 76th Avenue, and Austin Street.

Click here to read the whole article


Ratner wins prize for best … preservationist?

Brooklyn Paper

Preservationists at the Municipal Art Society issued their most prestigious award to Forest City Ratner’s chairman Bruce Ratner and head Maryanne Gilmartin on Wednesday night. Advocates that take exception to the builder’s biggest projects, Atlantic Yards and MetroTech Center, which have replaced and are slated to replace more than a dozen primarily low-slung blocks with hulking skyscrapers and the Barclays Center arena, are fuming at the decision.

“Forest City Ratner Companies has been bulldozing and demolishing huge tracts of land,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a preservationist group that spun off from the Municipal Art Society in the 1980s. “They’re creating these places that are not places at all.”

Click here to read the whole story



Everything Old Is New Again: Conversions of Historic Properties in Lower Manhattan

Historic properties are being reimagined and preserved through significant new investment and changes in use. These projects show that preser­vation and economic development can be powerful partners. As new office space comes online across the district, historic former office buildings are being converted into new retail, hotel and residential spaces fitting for a 21st Century Downtown.

Click here to access the full report.



Brooklyn’s Historic Churches Disappear to Make Way for Condos


Some preservationists and historians say the loss of churches is changing the face of some of borough’s most historic neighborhoods.

“I think it’s a tragedy that we are losing these unique and amazing structures,” said Sharon Barnes, a member of the Society for Clinton Hill. “They are part of the fabric of our streets and to lose so many is heartbreaking.”

But Simeon Bankoff, director of the Historic Districts Council, an organization that advocates for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, said that church to condo conversions are a practical way to preserve the historic nature of the buildings after congregations can no longer afford the upkeep.

“The actual physical character of the buildings is retained even when they are converted to residential use,” he said.

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The Value of Land: How Community Land Trusts Maintain Housing Affordability


Urban Omnibus by Oksana Mironova
Affordable housing is on New York City’s mind. A critical mass of civic organizations, academic institutions, city agencies, advocacy groups, and others are pondering the essential and perennial issue of how to ensure that the city becomes affordable for the extraordinarily diverse population that makes it work. What’s more, the conversation is riding a new wave of perceived political support from the de Blasio administration, which has tapped leading academics and esteemed private and public sector figures to deliver on its ambitious promise to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in ten years. With the details of the Mayor’s plan due to be released May 1st, we will undoubtedly be hearing a great deal of commentary about policy and implementation – development sites, low-income housing tax credits, preservation, NYCHA reforms – for weeks to come.
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Plan to Honor Big Developer in Brooklyn Is Criticized

NYTimes BY Matt Chaben

The Municipal Art Society is well known for campaigns to save Grand Central Terminal and Lever House and to stop towers that would have cast long shadows over Central Park.

But now the civic organization is the one defending itself, for deciding to award the developer Bruce C. Ratner its highest honor, one named for the very person who led some of those fights.

“We claim no ownership of the Onassis name, though we do draw on her spirit,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a citywide preservation group. “To honor Forest City Ratner with an award named for someone so well known for fighting to preserve New York’s neighborhoods is just too much.”

Click here to read the whole story


An economic defense of old buildings

Washington Post By Emily Badger

“For a long time, preservationists have been making the the cultural argument that these places feed our soul, and they connect us to our past,” says Stephanie Meeks, the president and CEO of the National Trust of the National Trust. “But this is the first time we’ve had empirical data to show that these places perform better economically and on many livability factors, as well.”

The report divided each city into a grid of 200-by-200-meter squares to allow comparison across neighborhoods (city blocks tend to be different sizes even across the same city, making that unit a poor measure).

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State will not move forward with historic district designation of Gowanus due to overwhelming opposition

Daily News BY 

The state Historic Preservation Office has decided not to pursue the designation of a large swath of the neighborhood, an area that would have covered 422 properties near the notoriously polluted Gowanus Canal

“It’s very disturbing that people went door to door . . . bullying people to go against this and giving them misinformation,” said Linda Mariano, co-founder of Friends and Residents of Great Gowanus, a citizens group that has pushed for the creation of a historic district since the early 2000s.

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This Is New York Now: Starbucks, Frozen Yogurt and Juice Bars

We’ve been waiting for the other shoe to fall for months now, ever since Bleecker Street Records was pushed out of its longtime home at 239 Bleecker Street in August by a massive rent increase that would have required the record store to pay $27,000 a month. What purveyor of luxury goods would fill the home from which the vinyl mecca drew its name? (Miraculously, Bleecker Street Records found a space around the corner at 188 West 4th.)Now we know, h/t Grub Street: a Starbucks will be moving in.

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New Yorkers, Take Back Your City


The old-school gentrification of the 20th century, while harmful, wasn’t all bad. It made streets safer, created jobs and brought fresh vegetables to the corner store. Today, however, what we talk about when we talk about gentrification is actually a far more destructive process, one that I prefer to call hyper-gentrification.

Unlike gentrification, in which the agents of change were middle-class settlers moving into working-class and poor neighborhoods, in hyper-gentrification the change comes from city government in collaboration with large corporations. Widespread transformation is intentional, massive and swift, resulting in a completely sanitized city filled with brand-name mega-developments built for the luxury class. The poor, working and middle classes are pushed out, along with artists, and the city goes stale. Urban scholar Neil Smith wrote extensively about the phenomenon, calling it “a systematic class-remaking of city neighborhoods.”

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Public Library Is Abandoning Disputed Plan for Landmark


In a striking about-face, the New York Public Library has abandoned its much-disputed renovation plan to turn part of its research flagship on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street into a circulating library and instead will refurbish the nearby Mid-Manhattan Library, several library trustees said.

“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said on Wednesday.

The renovation of the flagship, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, would have replaced the book stacks under the building’s main reading room with the new lending library. The project was to be paid for with $150 million from New York City and proceeds from the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library, at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, and the Science, Industry and Business Library in the former B. Altman building, on Madison Avenue at 34th Street.

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New York Public Library Scraps Redesign Plans

The Controversial Renovation Plan Prompted Three Lawsuits


The New York Public Library has scrapped a controversial renovation plan that would have gutted century-old book stacks from its landmark Fifth Avenue building.

Its decision came amid three lawsuits and skepticism from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was under pressure from his supporters to claw back $150 million in city funding for the project.

The library on Wednesday said that an independent cost analysis it commissioned showed that the renovation of the Stephen A. Schwarzman building would have cost significantly more than the $300 million it originally projected.

“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Anthony Marx, the library’s president, said.

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City unveils 200K-unit, $41B housing plan



Mayor Bill de Blasio hails his effort as “literally the largest and most ambitious affordable-housing program” in the history of the nation. He promised to work collaboratively with the real estate industry but vowed to “drive a hard bargain.”

The mayor did not identify specific neighborhoods that would be targeted for aggressive development, however City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod said the Planning Commission would initiate a “dozen” planning studies in the months ahead to start that process. His plan calls for additional building atop rail yards, such as with Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Hudson Yards in Manhattan, but does not identify specific locations.

Public housing will be a component of this plan, though likely not the building of new public housing, as Mr. de Blasio noted that funding from the federal government was essentially “frozen.” Asked if new legislation will be required from Albany to help entice developers or protect rent regulated apartments, Mr. de Blasio responded vaguely that his administration expected the full cooperation from both the federal and state governments.

“We insist on real involvement,” he said.

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Mayor de Blasio’s Plan to Build More Cells

In considering ways in which space can be arranged to accommodate New York’s poor, the new plan is not the most sensible one. By Aaron Betsky

Does anybody care about the quality of housing? Apparently not, or at least not in New York. How and where you live is only a numbers game, as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of a plan to “spend” up to $40 billion to create “affordable” housing in the city makes clear.

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The Giant New Building That Is About to Overshadow the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine — And How the City Ought to Step In

New York Magazine By 

There’s a better way: negotiate. What matters most to the cathedral’s majesty is its presence on the street, not the height of its still-nonexistent central tower. So if Mayor de Blasio moves fast, before construction has actually begun, he can still broker a compromise:

Click here to read the full article



Architects Newspaper By: Alan G. Brake

One of New York’s leading preservation groups names winners of its first awards program

The Historic Districts Council, one of New York’s leading historic preservation organizations, has announced the winners of its first annual design awards. The goal of the awards program is to “broaden perceptions of the possibilities of design in historic settings,” according to a statement from the organization. AN served as a media sponsor for the awards, and I served as a juror for the awards along side jury chair James Stewart Polshek; Leo A. Blackman, principal, Leo A. Blackman Architects; Jean Caroon, principal, Good Clancy; Andrew Scott Dolkart, director of the Historic Preservation program at Columbia; and Adam Yarinsky, principal at ARO. Drawing over 70 entries from within the five boroughs, the award winning projects exemplify the power of contemporary design to engage with history and enrich the life of the city.

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Supporters of Closing Rizzoli Bookstore Call for Reforms to City’s Landmarks Process

News 1

Supporters say the century old Rizzoli Building, which houses the Rizzoli Bookstore, deserves protection through landmark status, despite a rejection by the Landmark Preservation Commission. They say the commission’s process is slow and lacks transparency.

“We’re here today to ask that LPC immediately study those remaining buildings on West 57th street, particularly those on this block, to identify and landmark those that represent the best of their eras, so we don’t have any more Rizzoli situations,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

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Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city


Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s bid to protect buildings over age 50 frightens developers, construction unions and housing activists.

Crains By Joe Anuta

A politician’s proposal to protect the thousands of older buildings in New York that face demolition each year has triggered a backlash not just among powerful developers, but also among construction unions and advocates for affordable housing who fear the measure could drastically curb residential construction in the city.

The storm began on April 4 at a protest outside the stately, likely-to-be-razed Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street, when Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer pledged to do more to prevent such losses in the future. She offered to introduce a bill that would require a 30-day review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of any demolition permit filed for a building over 50 years old. The measure would apply to nearly 80% of the city’s structures and 91% of those in Manhattan, according to city data.

 Click here to read the full story


Museum fears plaster disaster from next-door hotel project

The Villager by Sam Spokony

  To the dismay of advocates for the historic Merchant’s House Museum, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission finally approved a plan for the construction of an eight-story hotel next to the museum, in a six-to-one vote on April 8.

The planned 27 E. Fourth St. hotel — which would sit immediately to the west of the 29 E. Fourth St. museum — had twice been rejected by L.P.C., after first being introduced in 2012 as a nine-story structure. But the final design’s slightly smaller scale, along with other exterior changes, apparently led the commission to allow it to go forward.


Merchant’s House-Neighboring Hotel Approved by Landmarks

Curbed by Jeremiah Budin

The only Commissioner to vote against the proposal, Margery Perlmutter, called it “drab on so many levels.” “I feel likewe’ve been exhausted into saying yes to this proposal, so I’m saying no,” she said.

The hotel proposal has been a subject of controversy not just because of its underwhelming design, but also because of the neighboring Merchant’s House, which preservationists fear will be harmed by the construction. The developers have promised to take extensive measures to ensure that the almost-two-century-old structure will not be harmed, and the Commission had basicallysigned off on that aspect at the last hearing, so there was no further discussion of the museum. It’s supporters, wearing stickers urging the LPC to say no to the hotel, left quietly and dejectedly.

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LPC Likely to Protect Ladies’ Mile Buildings From Demolition


Chelsea Now by Scott Stiffler

A developer’s plan to demolish two landmarked 19th-century buildings on West 19th Street was met with stiff resistance by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), following similar opposition by community leaders and preservationists.

Although no official vote was taken at the April 1 hearing, the commissioners were nearly unanimous in their belief that Panasia Estate, the owner of 51 and 53 West 19th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), should focus on restoring the buildings — which lie within the Ladies’ Mile Historic District — rather than replacing them with a proposed 14-story residential building.

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“Everybody Has Been Bought Off”: Brewer, Neighbors Protest Imminent Rizzoli Bookstore Demolition

Gothamist by Ben Miller

A coalition of preservationists and community leaders held a rally and press conference today in front of the soon-to-be-demolished Rizzoli Bookstore, which has already been defaced, at least on the outside, by the developers who hope to tear it down and put up more glassy condos.

Click here to read the full article


Sunset Park Leading Grassroots Effort to Preserve Its History

NY1 by Jeanine Ramirez

“We’ve got letters from all those homeowners saying that they are in support,” said one person.

On Wednesday, the community board voted unanimously in favor. It will now write a resolution to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Board members emphasized that the effort is not to make the working-class community more expensive, but to maintain its architectural significance.

“That character is one of affordability, said Daniel Murphy, the chair of Community Board 7. “We were never a bourgeois neighborhood. We want to preserve as much as that as we can.”

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COOKFOX Wins Award for Front Street; BK Heights Tour

Curbed by Zoe Rosenberg

The Historic District Council has awarded an inaugural design award to Historic Front Street at South Street Seaport. Designed by COOKFOX Architects, the project infilled a number of empty sites along the stretch.

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A Landmark Restored, From Mosaic Marble Floor to Grand Dome

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Sandstone walls were painted white. Decorative walnut and mahogany woodwork was painted green. The hand-cut mosaic floors of the two banking halls were badly damaged, as were floors of encaustic tile elsewhere in the building. Most of the decorative hardware was gone. The bird-cage elevator was stilled.

Dust had accumulated so exactly along the lines of the framework behind the dome that Mr. Perez San Martin thought the dark spokes were part of the original mural. A cleaning and restoration by Sandra Spannan of See Painting revealed otherwise.

New encaustic tiles were ordered from the English firm Craven Dunnill & Company, which still had the molds and colors necessary to match the existing floors, Mr. Perez San Martin said. The walls and woodwork were stripped and restored.

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Preservation Pays! REBNY’S Campaign Against Landmark Protection Is Misguided

By opposing preservation, REBNY and its allies oppose the will of the people


Imagine New York City without a landmarks law protecting historic neighborhoods and buildings. Actually, one does not have to imagine. There are examples aplenty across the five boroughs. From urban renewal sites to the apartment towers rising in Williamsburg and Long Island City, from “McMansions” replacing older homes in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens to new construction breaking up an intact block of row houses in Sunset Park, there is evidence anywhere you look.

The Real Estate Board of New York has launched an aggressive media campaign against historic preservation. There are too many landmarks, they wail, and many of those are unworthy! They argue that historic districts impede growth and development. Their evidence on all fronts is slim to misleading. Here’s why.

Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook

Click here to read the full article


Mayor de Blasio’s Brooklyn housing plan is building big worries



The fears crystalized Wednesday when the Planning Board approved a $1.5 billion project on the site of old Domino sugar plant in Williamsburg. It will have towers as high as 55 stories, or about 20 stories more than zoning on the site normally allows.

Permission for the taller buildings was granted in return for the developer setting aside 537,000 square feet, a quarter of all space, for 700 units of affordable housing.

That’s compared to 20% under a less dense 2010 plan.

Click here to read the full article

Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification


Newcomers, whose vitality is critical to cities, are hardly being turned away. But officials say a balance is needed, given the attention and government funding being spent to draw young professionals — from tax breaks for luxury condominium buildings to new bike lanes, dog parks and athletic fields.

“We feel the people who toughed it out should be rewarded,” said Darrell L. Clarke, president of the Philadelphia City Council, which last year approved legislation to limit property tax increases for longtime residents. “And we feel it is incumbent upon us to protect them.”


Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood

The Case for and Against a Bed-Stuy Historic District

By /New York Times

Supporters contend that a designation would preserve an architecturally and historically significant part of the city while also rewarding residents who had stuck with the neighborhood during tough times, in part by increasing the value of their homes and preventing unwelcome new development.

Opponents predict that a designation would bring heftier renovation costs and a tangle of regulations for homeowners seeking to improve their properties, along with higher rents and sale prices that would force out the largely low-income minority residents who form the area’s core. Opponents also argue that most Bed-Stuy residents weren’t adequately informed about the proposal.

Click here to read the full article


 Renovation, restoration the trend in Midtown East

By /Real Estate Weekly

With Midtown East’s controversial rezoning currently on hold for the foreseeable future, owners of properties in the district are taking a second look at extant buildings — and many like what they see.

125 Park Avenue

Numerous major renovations and restorations had already been launched in the area prior to the rezoning’s tabling, from SL Green’s swanky 2008 renovation of 125 Park Avenue, a 1923 Romanesque Revival office building directly adjacent to Grand Central, to a current restoration of 501 Fifth Avenue by Abramson Brothers, Inc., which will restore the 1916 Beaux Arts skyscraper’s original limestone façade.

In the wake of these are a slew of similarly ambitious projects, including RFR’s “reimagined” 285 Madison Avenue, a gut renovation and new ground floor at the equally impressive 292 Madison just across the street and a burnishing of 501 Madison Avenue that promises to bring a tarnished Art Deco jewel back to its original luster.

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HDC’s Simeon Bankoff Talks About Life on the Preservation Front Lines

City Land Profile

Advice for the Uninitiated. Mr. Bankoff described HDC’s work as tripartite: education, advocacy, and community outreach. In addition to his ubiquitous presence at Landmarks, City Council, and community boards in support of preservation, HDC hosts lectures and tours, often in response to requests from civic groups. Mr. Bankoff likes to bring together civic groups with government representatives from Landmarks, Buildings, and Council, providing the agencies with an opportunity to meet communities in a neutral situation, and the communities with different perspectives on the designation process.

Click here to read the full article


Potential Historic District Supported by Elected Officials and Community Boards

By: Jesse Denno/City Land

Representatives of Council Members Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos testified in support of the designation. A representative of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney voiced her “full-throated support” of “this iconic area of our city,” and a representative of State Senator Liz Krueger testified that “threats to this section of Park Avenue are not merely theoretical.” Representatives of Manhattan Community Boards 8 and 11 also recommended designation.

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HDC Designation Testimony for Backlog95 Hearing – October 8, 2015

Posted by on Tuesday, October 6, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has scheduled four “special hearings” this fall to consider 95 proposed landmarks that have been on the agency’s calendar for five years or more.  Back in November 2014, the LPC attempted to “de-calendar” all of these items, but since agreed to let the public weigh in.  Below is HDC’s testimony for the first hearing on October 8, which will cover all items in The Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens.  The subsequent hearings are on October 22 (Staten Island), November 5 (Manhattan A) and November 12 (Manhattan B).



Item 1-A

IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH, 378 East 151st Street, Bronx


Landmark Site: Bronx Block 2398, Lot 14


Immaculate Conception-LPC site

Individual Landmark designation of the Immaculate Conception Church is an opportunity to grace The Bronx, an under-landmarked borough, with protection of its architectural heritage. Currently, The Bronx has only three landmarked churches, none in the timeless Romanesque Revival style. This neighborhood, and the borough, has come a long way from the darker days of arson and crime. The survival of this remarkable complex throughout its history, good and bad, is a testament to its firm grounding in its community.

This church complex was conceived for a vast German population, which was the largest ethnic group in The Bronx at the turn of the century. The tripartite façade of the church building boasts four rose windows tucked behind rounded arches and clustered colonettes, and is flanked by two turrets, lending a fortress-like appearance. The warm red brick features limestone detailing, delivering a handsome polychromatic composition. Collectively, the complex constitutes a cohesive and attractive streetscape.

Through decades and waves of immigration, Immaculate Conception Church has graced the South Bronx with its beauty, and astonishingly remains intact. We urge the Commission to designate the church as an Individual Landmark. The biggest gift the church could bestow on its community a continuation of the stability it has provided for over a century in a place of constant change. Just as cathedrals are revered in Europe, structures like Immaculate Conception are our future cultural patrimony.


Item 1-D

65 SCHOFIELD STREET, 65 Schofield Street, Bronx


Landmark Site: Bronx Block 5628, Lot 146

65 Schofield Street-LPC site

HDC is pleased to have the opportunity to speak in favor of the designation of 65 Schofield Street as an individual New York City landmark. City Island is an unusual area of New York City that truly stands out as a small maritime community that has been embraced but not engulfed by the urban sprawl of the larger city. As noted in the AIA Guide to New York City, “on the streets that run perpendicular to the fishbone spine of City Island Avenue are more than a handful of distinguished older houses…65 Schofield Street, serene and peeling, seems a candidate for a Hopper painting: austere, venerable, self-confident”.

This building is a remarkable example of Italianate farmhouse design with Greek Revival elements, characterized by a square plan, tall windows, flat roof with an overhanging cornice and elaborate brackets. The building’s most striking feature is the one-story porch that runs across the width of the building. Fantastically, the main body of the house is still clad in its original wood clapboard, which serves to evoke a sense of architectural antiquity in a way much more common to small New England towns than The Bronx. Aside from its architectural integrity, research has uncovered direct connections between this building and the Pell and Schofield families, prominent families who were deeply involved with the development of City Island. This building is, frankly, an obvious landmark on all counts and should be protected in order to maintain its integrity as a visible, prominent link to City Island’s past.

We believe strongly that under the oversight of the Landmarks Commission, this building will prosper. HDC urges the Landmarks Commission to designate this handsome building as a landmark and work with these owners to bring this structure back to life.


Item 1-E



Landmark Site: Bronx Block 4838, Lot 66

First Presbyterian-LPC site

Williamsbridge, Bronx does not have one designated historic district or individual landmark. The First Presbyterian Church is unusual and one of a kind in appearance and amidst its context, an otherwise architecturally undistinguished block. The building contains elements in a mélange of styles, including Romanesque, Colonial Revival, and Gothic, as depicted in its arched roof.

The AIA Guide to New York City describes this church as “a provincial shingle masterpiece.” The church is colored richly in red wooden shingles with yellow trim and features a square belfry crowned with an ogival roof. It also features dentilled and acanthus leaf wooden cornices. Its adjacent rectory boasts the same color and materials scheme, with an ocular window on the primary façade, which subtly nods to the flare of the church.



Item II-A

183-195 BROADWAY BUILDING, 183-195 Broadway, Brooklyn


Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 2446, Lot 51

183-195 Bway-LPC site

According to Margot Gayle, the premiere advocate for cast-iron architecture in New York City, the 183-195 Broadway Building is the finest surviving cast-iron building in Brooklyn. In 1979, when this building was first submitted for evaluation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Gayle wrote that the recent losses of two other significant cast-iron buildings in Brooklyn made the preservation of 183-195 Broadway of even greater importance. Today, more than 35 years later, the building has fortunately survived without landmark designation. Nevertheless, it remains important to designate this building to ensure its survival.

No. 183-195 Broadway was designed by Williamsburg architect William B. Ditmars in 1882. The iron elements of the building were cast by the Atlantic Iron Works of Manhattan, a company that cast pieces for many buildings in Tribeca and Soho. One of the defining features of the ornate cast-iron is an inventive use of decorative calla lilies, stylized drapery, and wreaths on the building’s pilasters. The treatment of the flowers and leaves seems to follow the Aesthetic movement and are bordering on Art Nouveau, but predate that movement by 10 years. A similar spiral floral concept can be seen on other buildings but the use of the calla lily is considered to be unique. The cast-iron façade, including the bracketed cornice and storefront elements, remains remarkably intact.

The building was likely built as a factory and warehouse for shoe dealers James R. Sparrow and his son. In 1937, the building became home to the Forman 4 Family, a manufacturer of chromium tableware and metal gift items, who for decades kept the building admirably maintained. Signage from this company still remains between the second and third floors. The building now houses loft-style apartments.

Although cast-iron buildings could once be found throughout Brooklyn, the four surviving cast-iron buildings clustered along this section of Broadway in Williamsburg are among the only survivors in that borough, and the only such substantial group in the boroughs outside Manhattan. Only one of these four is a designated landmark. Therefore, as one of the finest cast-iron buildings in Brooklyn and among the most unusual examples of the type in New York City, 183-195 Broadway is highly worthy of landmark designation. Furthermore, it recalls an era when Williamsburg functioned as Brooklyn’s secondary downtown business district, teeming with banks, warehouses, and other commercial enterprises. The building’s designation was heard five separate times on several dates from 1980 to 1990 but was never successfully designated due to owner opposition. Over three decades have passed since the first Request for Evaluation was submitted, but it remains of highest importance to designate this building to ensure its protection.


Item II-B



Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 2446, Lot 63

Ukrainian Church-LPC site

This structure was built in 1905 across from Continental Army Plaza, a park completed in conjunction with the construction of the Williamsburg Bridge in 1903, creating a small patch of the City Beautiful era in this otherwise gritty urban intersection. As described in An Architectural Guide to Brooklyn by Francis Morrone, “The Williamsburg Trust Company, the dome of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, Shardy’s equestrian statue of George Washington—it is given to so few places, not only in New York but in the world, to have individual elements of such beauty in their midst, yet here these elements, so worth seeking out, are buried in steel, soot, chaos and clangor.”

The architect, Frank J. Helmle, worked in the firm of McKim, Mead and White before opening his own office in Williamsburg and partnering with architects Huberty and Hudswell. The firm’s masterpiece is St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in Bushwick, which is also under consideration for individual landmark designation, along with several other Brooklyn banks including the Greenpoint Savings Bank and the Williamsburgh Savings Bank. Helmle’s later career as the Superintendent of Public Buildings of Brooklyn bestowed his gift of the Boathouse in Prospect Park, as well as commissioning 42 firehouses in New York City.

The Williamsburg Trust Company Building remains remarkably intact despite its long history of adaptive reuse. This building is one such product of development spurred by the opening of the Williamsburg Bridge, but the bank went under only 10 years later in 1915, and at that time, the building was converted to serve as the Fifth Districts Magistrates Court. When the New York City court system changed, the building was rendered obsolete for that purpose and in 1961, a Ukrainian immigrant population bought the building and has had an active congregation ever since. We urge the Commission to designate this little piece of Beaux Arts beauty at the foot of the bridge. This building has served a variety of people and uses over the course of a century, and landmark status will secure its future as the City continues to change around it.


Item 11-C

BARBARA’S ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, 138 Bleecker Street, Brooklyn


Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 3306, Lot 6

St. Barbaras RC Church-1

St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church is instantly recognizable from all around for its exuberant ornament and for the soaring height of its towers, rising high above low-rise Bushwick. The grand yellow brick building with white and cream terra-cotta trim was designed by Helmle & Huberty and built in 1907-10. Its elaborate exterior massing includes a grand dome and two 175-foot tiered towers, each topped by a crucifix. The church features a grand entrance bay resembling a triumphal arch, with arched openings, columns, and a rounded pediment. These classically-inspired components were a signature of the architecture firm, which was prolific in Brooklyn. The interior of the church is equally elaborate in its Baroque-inspired design, with beautiful statuary, carvings, frescoes, and stained glass windows.

Described in the LPC’s hearing statement as Spanish Mission Revival or neo-Plateresque, it is also quite likely that Helmle & Huberty were influenced by German Baroque ecclesiastical architecture, given that St. Barbara’s served a congregation comprised mainly of German immigrants in its early years. The church is said to be named for Barbara Epping, the daughter of local brewer Leopold Epping, who donated the major funds to construct the church. As previously mentioned, the church served local German immigrants, many of whom worked in the breweries in Bushwick, including Epping’s, but the congregation evolved over the years to serve the area’s changing population of Italians and, more recently, Latin Americans.

The church stands as a neighborhood anchor and a magnificent piece of architecture that many would be surprised to learn is not already protected by the Landmarks Law. We urge the Commission to designate this worthy building that, for many, is already considered a landmark, and to ensure its protection for generations to come.


Item II-D



Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 944, Lot 41

St. Augustines-LPC site

It is astonishing that moving just a few blocks south of the sprawling mess of Atlantic Center, one finds St. Augustine’s Church and Rectory, occupying an entire block of 6th Avenue between Sterling and St. John’s Places. It is here that the some of the most beloved parts of Brooklyn begin, as described in the Park Slope designation report: “…one is immediately struck by the homogeneous quality of this street. It still embodies today the distinction that Brooklyn had, in the 19th century, as a city of homes and churches. The vista along the avenue between Sterling Place and Union Street has an understated regularity dramatically accented by the spires of two churches, St. Augustine’s at Sterling Place and St. Francis Xavier at Carroll Street.”

The Gothic Revival, High Victorian style church is known as “the Cathedral of Park Slope”. When it opened, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle declared St. Augustine Church “one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the country,” and later, “one of Brooklyn’s most picturesque churches.” The American Institute of Architects Guide to New York City put it best: “Sixth Avenue is one of Park Slope’s grandest streets, block after block containing rows of amazingly preserved row housing. St. Augustine’s provides an oasis along the stately avenue, both spatially and in change of scale. The crusty tower with its mottled brownstone contrasts with the smoothness of the row housing. It is one of the most elaborate and architecturally distinguished Roman Catholic churches in Brooklyn, which has as many Roman Catholic churches as Rome. Queen Victoria’s best awaits you within.”

This lauded complex is the epitome of a landmark and we urge the Commission to officially protect these structures as part of their rightful home, just steps from the Park Slope Historic District.


Item II-E

GREEN-WOOD CEMETERY, Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn


Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 902, Lot 1

Green-Wood-LPC site

Green-Wood Cemetery is a National Historic Landmark encompassing 478 acres, with over 500,000 graves, including those of many notable historic figures. It was the third – and remains the largest – rural cemetery established in the United States, and the first rural cemetery in New York City.

Founded in 1838, Green-Wood was designed by David Bates Douglass and described as a tour de force of the picturesque landscape. Carefully sited with dramatic views of the city and harbor, a viewshed it retains today, Green-Wood is also one of the most extensive, and among the most intact, landscapes created on the principles of Andrew Jackson Downing in New York City. The cemetery is a veritable architectural encyclopedia for its amalgam of mortuary architecture, buildings and statuary. Among the styles represented are Classical, Gothic and Romanesque. The distinctive, brownstone Gothic Revival entrance, designed by Richard Upjohn, was designated an Individual Landmark in 1966.

While no one would dispute the worthiness of this magnificent landscape, HDC feels that the designation of the entire cemetery would be burdensome to both the cemetery’s management and the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The cemetery’s plots, including headstones and mausoleums, are owned by individual property owners, which would make for onerous outreach and regulatory processes. However, the properties within the cemetery that are owned by Green-Wood, including the Chapel, designed by noted architects Warren and Wetmore as a scaled-down version of Christopher Wren’s Tom Tower at Christ Church, Oxford, as well as the gatehouses and other ancillary structures, would be welcome additions to New York City’s roster of protected landmarks. Ensuring the sensitive maintenance of the structures that set a standard for architecture in urban parks would be an important and worthwhile endeavor.


Item II-F

CONEY ISLAND PUMPING STATION, 2301 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn


Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 6965, Lot 125

Coney Pumping-LPC site

The Coney Island Pumping Station replaced an older station in 1937-38. The need for a high pressure water system in this area was imminent, as it failed during a catastrophic fire along the boardwalk in 1932, and also failed at the Dreamland fire of 1911. The new station was a WPA project, and this was architect Irwin S. Chanin’s only public work, making this an unusual commission.

The architect Irwin S. Chanin is best known for impressive landmarks like the Century and Majestic apartment buildings on Central Park West and the masterpiece Chanin Building on 42nd Street. In Coney Island, Chanin was able to bring the elegant Art Moderne style to a utilitarian structure. The elliptically shaped fire pumping station is faced in limestone over a granite base and originally featured prismatic glass windows with steel surrounds.

The building still proudly stands in the center of a large grassy plot and originally had complementary symmetrical plantings. Three wide, cement walks still lead up to the pump house from the streets, and paired statues originally flanked the entrance. These Art Deco pieces of art adorned the otherwise utilitarian industrial building and feature Pegasus, symbols of Neptune, atop stylized waves and clouds. The sculptures remain safe at the Brooklyn Museum, where they remain to be returned to their landmark. The survival of these original decorative elements supersedes the removed windows, which is the largest alteration to this building.

This building’s deserves landmark designation because of its unusual city commission of Irwin S. Chanin as an example of his only public work; is an outstanding example of Moderne industrial architecture; contributes to the history of fire fighting and Coney Island; and survives as a gem in a part of Brooklyn where there is a dearth of architectural pedigree.


Item II-G

LADY MOODY-VAN SICKLEN HOUSE, 27 Gravesend Neck Road, Brooklyn


Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 7123, Lot 64

Lady Moody-LPC site

The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House is a rare surviving example of Brooklyn’s agricultural past that deserves recognition as a New York City landmark. This property is part of Kings County’s agricultural history, a history that was a crucial component to the success of New York City. Today there are less than a dozen examples of these farmhouses remaining. Located at 27 Gravesend Neck Road, the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House is not only “a rare surviving example of an eighteenth-century Dutch-American farmhouse” it is “the only known extant 18th century farmhouse of stone construction in Brooklyn.” (LPC 2004)

Built partly of rough stone, the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House stands on its original siting on ground that was originally part of the northwest square of Gravesend. In addition to the stone walls, the house features a gable roof with wide, overhanging eaves and an end chimney typical of 18th century Dutch-American farmhouse construction.

The house is believed to have belonged to Lady Deborah Moody, an English expatriate who helped develop Gravesend and was one of the first women to be granted land in the new world. Though it is questioned whether Lady Moody did indeed own the house, the land, the house, and the story around it are all integral parts of Gravesend’s history and identity; as much a part of that identity as the original four-square plan of the colonial town of Gravesend.

The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen house is one of two extant houses original to this colonial plan. The four-square plan, consisting of 16 acres per square, is unique in New York City. This plan is still prominently visible within the modern street grid.

Notably the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen house has never been moved, unlike many other Dutch-American farmhouses, including several properties that are already landmarked. “The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen house is one of the few remaining built forms that represents the early history of Gravesend, a significant New York colonial community.” (LPC 2004)

The significance of the house goes beyond its association with Lady Deborah Moody. The prominent Van Sicklen family subsequently owned the house and property. Farmer and property owner Ferdinandus Van Sicklen acquired the land in 1702. Descendants of the Van Sicklen family brought the house to its original form. The 42-foot long and 31-foot wide house retains its heavy oak beams, 12 by 14 inch-wide fireplaces and a narrow flight of steps that climb against its north wall. William E. Platt, and his wife Isabella, in keeping with the prevalent Arts and Crafts movement of the period, renovated the house in the early 20th century. For more than two centuries the Lady Moody-Van Sicklen house has remained a part of the Gravesend community.

The Lady Moody-Van Sicklen house is a testament to the early history of Gravesend and Kings County. It is a significant and rare surviving remnant of New York’s colonial community and is deserving of Landmark designation.



Item III-A

OLD CALVARY CEMETERY GATEHOUSE, Gale Avenue & Greenpoint Avenue, Queens


Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 2508, Lot 1 (in part)

Old Calvary Cem Gatehouse

The Old Calvary Cemetery Gatehouse is designed in the Roman Vernacular Queen Anne style. The Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral trustees had purchased land in Maspeth and built Calvary Cemetery. In 1847, faced with cholera epidemics and a shortage of burial grounds in Manhattan, the New York State Legislature passed the Rural Cemetery Act authorizing nonprofit corporations to operate commercial cemeteries.  The first burial in Calvary Cemetery was in 1848. By 1852 there were 50 burials a day; by the 1990s there were nearly 3 million burials in Calvary Cemetery. It is today one of the largest cemeteries in the United States.

The cemetery gatehouse as a building typography has experienced a tremendous uptick in restorations throughout New York State over the past decade. These beautiful structures serve as picturesque portals into cemeteries, and were designed in an array of architectural styles. The Old Calvary Gatehouse’s style is not found elsewhere in Queens, as the AIA put it: “others of this genre have almost all been confiscated by time.” The building’s warm brick and terra cotta treatment, picturesque arrangement of dormers and gables, and a conical belfry make this building a rare find in Hunterspoint, let alone Queens County. A possible prototype for this building exists in Heath Row Cemetery in Hertfordshire, England. The English gatehouse predates Old Calvary by ten years, but the design is consistent. There is not another similar gatehouse known in New York City. The gatehouse serves as an attractive anchor to the cemetery, and its loss would be a grave mistake. This structure is the equivalent of Greenwood’s beloved gothic gatehouse, and its identity as a part of the cemetery is integral.


Item III-B

PEPSI COLA SIGN, 4600 Fifth Avenue, Queens


Landmark Site: Queens Block 21, Lot 1 (in part)

Pepsi-LPC site

The Pepsi Cola Sign has illuminated the East River waterfront since 1936. While not a traditional “landmark” since it is neither of a high style nor affixed to a high-style building, the Pepsi Cola sign does add a special character to the all-but-developed Long Island City. Tastes and definitions of landmarks continue to change, as does New York. Public perception of the quotidian sights of our city, like signage, can evolve quickly once something that has always been there, suddenly, is not.

HDC cites the lost Eagle Clothing and Kentile signs as two examples of character-defining, albeit non-traditional, beloved facets of the industrial Gowanus. The dismantling and erasure of these signs’ presence in the neighborhood was lamented by neighborhood residents and beyond, signifying anxiety that those companies’ industries are defunct, and change is certainly coming to this Brooklyn enclave.

As a nod to the departed industry which was once the dominating presence in Long Island City, the Pepsi Cola sign was preserved, long after its host building was demolished. HDC would like to see this sign preserved in perpetuity, as its presence is preferred there, as opposed to losing it. In 21st Century New York, vestiges like this remind us that we manufactured things in this city before we built condos. Understanding the intricacies of regulating commercial signage, HDC would further recommend that the Commission investigate additional preservation protections, such as an easement or some other form of legal contract to help ensure this landmark’s continued presence.


Item III-C

FAIRWAY APARTMENTS, 76-09 34th Avenue, Queens


Landmark Site: Queens Block 1249, Lot 33

Fairway Hall 3

The Fairway Apartments and Spanish Towers, two grand apartment houses in Jackson Heights, are integral to and characteristic of the neighborhood’s sense of place, and HDC is pleased that they are being considered for individual landmark status. At the 2010 designation hearing for Spanish Towers and the 2011 designation hearing for the Fairway Apartments, HDC testified in favor, but also advocated for their inclusion in an extension of the Jackson Heights Historic District, something for which the community has advocated for a long time. Both are located just outside the historic district, but are included in the State and National Register Historic District, which encompasses an area roughly twice as large as the city’s historic district. HDC again wholeheartedly supports the designation of these captivating and picturesque buildings, and believes that they rise to the level of individual landmarks. We do hope that they will one day also be treasured contributions to an extended Jackson Heights Historic District, and take this opportunity to again ask that the Commission consider those blocks on the Register that have not yet been landmarked by the city.

The Fairway Apartments, which derives its name from being constructed on the former site of the community golf course, was a later addition to the Jackson Heights neighborhood, having been constructed in 1937. While other apartment buildings at this time were being built in the Art Deco and Moderne styles, architect Joshua Tabatchnik chose the Tudor Revival style to reflect the romantic revival designs that predominated in the neighborhood, taking great care to design a building that would be contextual with the earlier pieces of Jackson Heights, and over 70 years later, his work has stood the test of time. He outfitted the full blockfront structure with all the trappings of a Tudor Castle – from the arched batten style wooden entry door with flanking semi-circular towers up to the roofline of turrets, battlements, and ramparts. Tabatchnik’s design also fit into its context through its form, with front and side courtyards highlighting the open, green feeling for which the neighborhood was, and is still, famous.


Item III-D

SPANISH TOWERS, 34-30, 34-32, 34-34, 34-36, 34-38, 34-42, 34-44, 34-46, 34-48, 34-52 75th Street, Queens

LP-2451, 2452, 2453, 2454, 2455, 2456, 2457, 2458, 2459, 2460

Landmark Site: Queens Block 1261; Lots 22, 24, 25, 26, 27, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34

Spanish Tower Homes-sm

The Fairway Apartments and Spanish Towers, two grand apartment houses in Jackson Heights, are integral to and characteristic of the neighborhood’s sense of place, and HDC is pleased that they are being considered for individual landmark status. At the 2010 designation hearing for Spanish Towers and the 2011 designation hearing for the Fairway Apartments, HDC testified in favor, but also advocated for their inclusion in an extension of the Jackson Heights Historic District, something for which the community has advocated for a long time. Both are located just outside the historic district, but are included in the State and National Register Historic District, which encompasses an area roughly twice as large as the city’s historic district. HDC again wholeheartedly supports the designation of these captivating and picturesque buildings, and believes that they rise to the level of individual landmarks. We do hope that they will one day also be treasured contributions to an extended Jackson Heights Historic District, and take this opportunity to again ask that the Commission consider those blocks on the Register that have not yet been landmarked by the city.

The Spanish Towers is a complex of 10 three- and four-story detached tan brick buildings, arranged in two groups of five. They were designed as apartment houses that could be converted into single-family homes, an unusual configuration. The houses share both a continuous group of small front yards and a driveway leading to six detached garages in the rear. Though built by different developers than much of the rest of Jackson Heights, their whimsical Mediterranean Revival style with distinctive details such as red glazed tile roofs with deep overhangs, wood shutters and loggias very much place them in this historic neighborhood. Other character-defining details include columns, arched entrances, wrought-iron balconettes and original wood shutters on some of the upper floor windows. The designation of the Spanish Towers would help protect this special row of houses and guide them towards suitable restoration where needed.


Item III-E



Landmark Site: Queens Block 5022, Lot 1

Bowne Church-LPC site

The Bowne Street Community Church stands out as a shining star in Flushing, a neighborhood that has experienced much change over the years. Flushing does not have a designated historic district, and only a relatively small number of individual landmarks, among them two other notable religious institutions, the Friends Meeting House and St. George’s Episcopal Church. When the church was proposed as a landmark in 2002, followed by its calendaring in 2003, the designation had the overwhelming support of local elected officials, community groups, and the Flushing community, with a large number of petition signatures. Unfortunately, the designation did not move forward due to the opposition of the church’s management. HDC is pleased that the church’s new leadership is in favor of designating their magnificent building, and hopes that with all of the elements in place, a designation may move forward in 2015.

The church was originally built for the Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing, a congregation established in 1842. To accommodate the congregation’s rapid growth, this new church building was completed in 1892. The architecture of the church’s second home is stunning, designed in the Romanesque Revival style of red brick, with arches topping each of the windows, and intricate brickwork and terra cotta details. The church is adorned with stained glass windows manufactured by the Tiffany Glass Company of Corona and designed by Agnes Fairchild Northrup, a colleague of Louis Comfort Tiffany and a life-long member of the Reformed Dutch Church of Flushing. The eastern annex, designed to match the existing architecture, was added to the building in 1925. In 1974, the congregation merged with the First Congregational Church of Flushing to form the Bowne Street Community Church.


Item III-F



Landmark Site: Queens Block 4039, Lot 69

First Reformed Church-LPC site

Constructed in 1872-74 for the First Reformed Church of College Point, these bucolic wood frame buildings are vestiges of College Point’s earliest development and reminders of the area’s small-town roots. The village was incorporated in 1870 by businessman Conrad Poppenhusen, who moved his rubber company to College Point from Hamburg, Germany. To accommodate his workers, he laid out streets, built housing, and funded the construction of the First Reformed Church. He also founded the nearby Poppenhusen Institute, which, among other functions, contained the nation’s first free kindergarten. That structure was granted landmark status in 1970. Thus, the First Reformed Church and Sunday School provide an important record of this early phase in College Point’s history and of the charming scale and style of architecture that was once found here.

The Church and Sunday School buildings feature detailed ornamentation that can be attributed to many styles of American architecture, including Queen Anne, Gothic Revival, and Romanesque, an eclectic mix typical and representative of the Victorian period. The church contains Italianate elements such as round-arch openings and a pedimented entry porch, atop which stands a graceful, soaring spire. The Sunday School building is most often attributed to the Eastlake Gothic style, which is very rare in New York City. Its components include pointed arches, a plethora of carved ornament, and an entrance porch topped by a shallow, pyramidal-roof tower.

It is worth noting that the complex has been diligently maintained since it was considered for landmark status in 1980. The church leadership undertook a restoration of the church in 1994 and again in 2008, after a fire damaged the sanctuary and steeple. HDC asks that this sound stewardship be rewarded and ensured for generations to come through the designation of both of these sister buildings, which not only provide so much to the neighborhood, but also serve as solid anchors and historical context for one another.


Item III-G




The proposed Douglaston Historic District Extension adjoins and sits between the Douglaston Historic District, designated in 1997, and the Douglaston Hill Historic District, designated in 2004, both with overwhelming community support. Together the span of three historic districts will serve as a prime example of an outer borough’s transition from rural farm communities to a diverse suburban enclave, rarely found within the boundaries of New York City. By designating the Extension, the LPC will retain the area’s historical continuum in both American architectural history and within the story of urban planning and development.

The building stock in the proposed historic district extension spans roughly one hundred and fifty years, from the early farmhouses on Douglaston Parkway to a few mid-to-late 20th century additions and infill construction. The land that comprises the proposed district extension was part of the 1853 Marathon subdivision, one of the earliest of its type in northeastern Queens. Created by the local farmer, Jeremiah Lambertson, who purchased the property ten years earlier, the land was laid out in an urban grid of large, almost one acre lots, which were sold at auction. Three buildings in the proposed district, 38-60, 38-80, and 39-18 Douglaston Parkway date from the development of this subdivision during the 1850s and 60s. Known as the Quaid Family farmhouses, they were built and occupied by successive generations of the same family from the mid-19th century into the 20th, marking the transition from large farms to smaller ones and eventually suburban estates. Although they take the form of vernacular farmhouses, they do illustrate some design details of the Greek Revival and Italianate styles. Other homes in the proposed district are from the suburban development of Douglaston built between 1890 and 1930 in the Revival styles for which the area is known and display the same fine details and design that are found in the Douglaston and Douglaston Hill Historic Districts.

Other buildings are from the area’s development and suburban growth from 1890 to 1930. Once the railroad tunnel to Manhattan was installed, Douglaston evolved into a commuter community and an early example of suburban sprawl. The period from roughly 1890-1915 was transitional, with architects and builders experimenting with a combination of styles, creating an eclectic mixture of buildings. While many houses can be classified as belonging to one distinct style of architecture, such as Colonial Revival, Arts and Crafts, and Classical Revival, others featured a fusion of design elements. Post-1915 styles reflected the Revival period, with the Colonial and Tudor Revival represented in several houses in the Extension.

The inclusion of the 1930-31 Public School 98 and the 1923-24 Community Church of Douglaston helps round out the story of Douglaston as a community. Both institutions were designed in the Colonial Revival style to harmonize with the architecture of the neighborhood while meeting the educational and spiritual needs of its residents. A 1928-30 Tudor Revival style apartment building, which has many of the same details as the single-family homes, tells another part of the region’s story, when the growing population necessitated the construction of multi-family dwellings between the World Wars.

The proposed extension is significant as an example of mid-19th century and early-20th century community planning and development, as well as the buildings’ high level of architectural quality. Most of the buildings retain the forms and characteristics of popular architectural styles from the 1890s to 1920s. The proposed Douglaston Historic District Extension was part of the community’s original hope and extensive plan for an historic district, and was calendared and heard in 2008. It is our hope now that the LPC moves forward towards designation. It is only fitting that this area, whose architecture and history are equal to that of the existing districts, be similarly recognized, protected and preserved.


Item III-H



Landmark Site: Queens Block 6236, Lot 18

Ahles-LPC site

This home is the oldest known structure in Bayside and the last survivor of many homes once belonging to the Bell family, who were influential in the development of early Bayside. The Bells were responsible for planning and naming roads, bringing running water, and freely donating much land for railroad, church and school developments. Abraham Bell and Company was involved in cotton shipping and was instrumental in transporting immigrants from Ireland escaping the Great Famine in the 1840s. The Bell landholdings originally comprised 246 acres in what is now Bayside, and this house is the only extant former residence of the family.

The house was stuccoed and the porch was removed in the 1920s after it was moved to make room for street improvements and development. However, these historic alterations do not detract or obscure its characteristic Second Empire style. In fact, it is the only surviving example of that style in the area. The last surviving Bell residence other than this one, located at 38-08 Bell Boulevard, was demolished in 1971, despite preservation efforts. Unfortunately, that house was replaced with a funeral home, and is now used as a drab suburban office building. We urge the Commission to avoid a similar fate for the Lydia Ann Bell and J. Williams Ahles House, a structure significant on many fronts: for its connection to Bayside’s history, its singular architectural contribution, and its age.



Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on September 22, 2015

Posted by on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

Item 3
158112- Block 1209, lot 62-
1375 Dean Street – Individual Landmark

A transitional Greek Revival/Italianate style freestanding house built c. 1855-69. Application is to construct rooftop, side yard, and rear yard additions, alter the front garden and paving, and excavate the rear yard.

1375 tax1375 Dean

The George B. and Susan Elkins House is the only freestanding, mid-19th century country house in Crown Heights. Despite this being a rare architectural gem in Brooklyn, it is also rare in that it is one of the two properties, that we are aware, ever designated by emergency under the inter-agency agreement that the LPC be notified of permits pulled by DOB on calendared properties.   In October 2006, this fine house was saved from demolition only hours before it was scheduled to be torn down. This uncommon practice of emergency designation couldn’t have been possible if the building was not classified as a calendared property, and nine years later, it is before the Commission, and HDC is thrilled to see it here.

HDC commends the applicant for the façade restoration and the use of the 1940s tax photograph. This house has been through some rough times and was in dire need of this work to return the residence to its former allure.  Because of this house’s history, and it is the only surviving example of its kind in the area, HDC strongly disagrees with the glass enclosures flanking the house. This would effectively eliminate this house’s appearance and appellation as “free-standing.” The Committee found the concept creative, but does not believe that an individual landmark is a place to experiment with such a radical design. A house of this grandeur sells itself, there is no need to entice with glass, which prospective tenants will discover a no shortage of on its rear façade.

The Committee felt some of the glazing in the rear could be reduced and preserve the historic wood frame fabric, and also eliminate the skylights on the street façade entirely, as the building’s original attic windows could provide that light. In general, the design on such a landmark could go a little further, and be fantastic, not just approvable. This restoration has been a long time coming, and the design should be nothing short of inspiring, just like this building’s storied past.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 4
174184- Block 5038, lot 76-
211 Fenimore Street – Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District

A Colonial Revival style house built in 1906 by Axel Hedman. Application is to alter the façade and reconstruct the garage.

211 Fennimore tax211 Fennimore

At the last LPC public hearing, on September 8, the Commission reviewed a proposal of a house which had an enclosed porch, which resulted in a compromised façade after several alterations. HDC would like to see this porch remain open, and for the paired columns discernible in the tax photo to be restored, as they were a distinguished feature of this home. HDC suggests a different type of siding, such as the original cedar shingles present in the photo, which would offer better respiration to this wooden house and reinstate an integral part of the original design.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 5
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
174913- Block 97, lot 7502-
130 Beekman Street – South Street Seaport Historic District

A complex of three buildings built in 1798, 1801, and 1827. Application is to replace the entry door and install a canopy.

130 BeekmanHDC found this door an odd choice for this 200 year old building and district. Its asymmetry clashes with the other symmetrical window and door openings, and needs some further thought.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 6
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
161442- Block 97, lot 2-
115 South Street – South Street Seaport Historic District 

A Greek Revival style building built in 1840 and altered in the 1880s. Application is to construct rooftop additions and install a fire escape at the rear façade.

115 south street historic115 South StreetThe case for an argument against this proposal was made by showing the historic black and white photo of South Street, and realizing how little this row of ancient dwellings have changed over so many years. This row of structures facing the water are the most visible in the district from the Brooklyn Bridge and approach to Manhattan, lending a view and a feeling that something special–a distinct enclave– is peeking out from beneath the skyscrapers of downtown. HDC feels that this proposed addition would taint this experience, and destroy the intact roofscape of this row, which serves collectively as a type of wall, or container for the historic district. This addition is so massive, it also looms over Peck Slip and calls attention from the bridge, and the FDR.  The addition is too assertive, it awkwardly sits atop the historic building as if it is an inconvenience, rather than augment it and create a complementary design.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 7
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
173138- Block 144, lot 40-
60 Hudson Street – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark

A Dutch and German Expressionist/Art Deco style communications building designed by Voorhees, Gmelin, and Walker and built in 1928-30. Application is to amend Certificate of Appropriateness 06-5630 governing the future installation of mechanical equipment and louvers, and window replacement.

60 HudsonHDC has serious reservations about this application. We have asked before for a master plan of this building, but we are still being presented with piecemeal applications.  Some members of our Committee have begun to wonder if the lack of the requested master plan is being used as a way to incrementally encroach upon this prominent individual landmark.  We ask the Commission to ensure that this alteration be made as invisible as possible, and that a master plan for future alterations to this building is created. The wedding cake set backs are a quintessential feature of this building, style, and era. What good are they if they are being erased with painted generators?

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 10
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
166612- Block 149, lot 29-
287 Broadway – Individual Landmark

An Italianate and French Second Empire style building designed by John B. Snook and built in 1871-72. Application is to alter the facades, install new storefronts and construct rooftop bulkheads.

287 Broadway cresting287 BwayThis building was structurally compromised in 2008 after a construction for a 20-story condo went up next door, and has been leaning ever since.  HDC commends the applicant for restoring this irreplaceable individual landmark, especially going the extra mile and crowning this building with its original cresting, a long-lost feature.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 12
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
172190- Block 578, lot 64-
32 Dominick Street – Individual Landmark

A Federal style rowhouse built c. 1826. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and alter a dormer.

32 Dominick proposedThis Federal house is lucky to be with us today, as the construction of the Holland Tunnel swallowed everything in its path, only feet from this home. What’s more is that this individual landmark has remained miraculously unchanged in footprint and detail for nearly two centuries.  It is widely accepted that this building type is the most precious and the rarest surviving in New York, which in itself is a commodity. Why anyone would want to alter a dormer on a Federal style rowhouse should consider buying another piece of property. The proposed rear alteration to this relic of history turns a coveted treasure into a suburban condo. Plenty of this taste and square footage can be found just across the Hudson River, through the tunnel.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 16
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
170663- Block 1129, lot 55-
44 West 77th Street – Central Park West – West 76th Street Historic District

A neo-Gothic style studio building designed by Harde & Short and built in 1907-09. Application is to replace windows.

44 W 7744 W 77 proposedNo detail was spared on this building, even on a secondary façade, the ornate window configuration a testament to this.  HDC does not support the removal of these special windows. Care should be taken to restore them, in turn preserving some memory of the original grandeur of this building.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 17
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
164279- Block 1129, lot 9-
41 West 76th Street – Central Park West – West 76th Street Historic District

A Romanesque Revival style rowhouse designed by G. A. Schillinger and built in 1891-93. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and modify the rear façade and rear ell, alter the areaway and paint the façade.

41 W 76 existing41 W 76 proposed As with so many Upper West Side applications, HDC asks, what is really left of these old buildings after these rears are altered?  The current proposal has a fish-bowl appearance, and the proportions are not relative to the building, or each other. Assuming that this trend of completely re-building the rears of townhouses one day becomes undesirable, we ask the Commission to ensure that enough historic fabric remains on these facades to prevent a situation where historic districts in wealthy areas of the city have been reduced to pure facadism.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 18
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
171185- Block 1892, lot 60-
324-326 West 108th Street – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District

Two Renaissance Revval style rowhouses designed by Janes & Leo and built in 1898-99. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions and bulkheads, replace windows, doors and ironwork, and alter openings.

324 W 108 proposed324 W 108 proposedWe ask the Commissioners today to review this application with a fresh pair of eyes, and determine appropriateness by a historic district standard, not by what the neighbor did next door. The neighbor is an example of the type work that transpired while this block was heard, but not designated from 2011 until this past summer. This is too much, and like the previous application and the one after this one, is essentially building a brand new building. It should be noted, too, that the rooftop bulk is indeed visible, as documented by neighbors.

LPC determination: APPROVED w/mods


Item 19
BOROUGH OF Manhattan
174002- Block 1889, lot 28-
320 West 101st Street – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District

A Beaux Arts style rowhouse designed by George F. Pelham and built in 1900-01. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and rooftop bulkhead, and modify masonry openings.

320 W 101320 W 101 proposed(Echoing previous West Side applications…)This intact rear yard of townhouses has their historic window openings and els in situ. We ask the Commission to deny this full-width townhouse expansion, and preserve some memory of the historic fabric.

LPC determination: APPROVED



Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

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