September 22, 2009

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 100946
Bronx, Block: 2309, Lot: 1
112 Lincoln Avenue – Estey Piano Factory, Individual Landmark

A factory designed by A.B.Ogden and Sons architects and built in 1885-86, with later additions. Application is to construct a rear yard addition, install a ramp, and alter windows.

e piano factory

HDC Testimony
HDC was strongly in support of preserving this important reminder of New York City’s interesting history as the nation’s piano manufacturing capital, and is pleased to see this building continuing to be of use. We approve of the proposed ramp and rear yard addition as they are modest changes that look like typical industrial alterations.  The windows though are significant features in the look and history of the factory and we are opposed to altering their design.  Instead, they should be restored or replaced in kind with original window configuration.  This building is a nice record of its own transformation – one can see the changes made over time to meet the needs of the factory.  HDC feels these significant, historic details should be restored and retained whenever possible.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 100052
Bronx, Block: 5821, Lot: 2856
4919 Goodridge Avenue – Fieldston Historic District
Dutch Colonial Revival style house designed by Dwight James Baum, and built in 1914 Application is to enclose a side porch and altar windows

HDC Testimony
HDC regrets to see the enclosing of this side porch as it is an important piece of Dwight James Baum’s design for this charming house.   Doing so would change the massing of the house, creating a solid where there once was a void.  We ask whether it is possible to set back the enclosure slightly so that it retains its shadow lines and open, airy quality.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 100509
Brooklyn, Block: 1166, Lot: 29
390 Park Place – Prospect Heights Historic District
A Romanesque Revival/Renaissance Revival style rowhouse built by William H. Reynolds in 1896. Application is to alter the rear faзade and construct a two-story rear yard addition.

HDC Testimony
HDC is disappointed to see another application to remove a rear bay window of rowhouse in Prospect Heights.  While the existing cladding is not appropriate, the framing appears to be in good shape from the photos.  As with a recent, similar proposal, this raises the question, “What is the need to remove something and replace it with something else?”  If historic design elements are in bad condition, they should be restored, not destroyed.  Alterations can be made to this rear facade, but the proposed additions are not appropriate for the building or the row.

LPC Determination: Approved

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 101969
Manhattan, Block: 101, Lot: 2
41 Park Row – (Former) New York Times Building, Individual Landmark
A Richardsonian Romanesque style office building designed by George B. Post, built in 1888-89, and altered by Robert Maynicke in 1903-05 Application is to install flagpoles and banners


HDC Testimony
HDC finds that with the existing awnings and signage over the entry way, the building is well marked.  The proposed flagpoles and banners are unnecessary additions, and we recommend this application not be approved.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 098755
Manhattan, Block: 197, Lot: 1
87 Lafayette Street – Fire House Engine Company 31, Individual Landmark
A French Renaissance Eclectic style fire house built in 1895 Application is to install doors and a marquee

firehouse existing

e firehouse entrance

HDC Testimony
While we approve of altering this bay to create an entry, HDC does not find the proposed to be a design sensitive to this individual landmark.    The proposed entrance is far too transparent, its framing far too thin. Rather than such a radical departure from the original design, we recommend a framing of similar size and detail that is found on windows throughout the former firehouse.  Upon its construction in 1895, the impressive French Renaissance Eclectic style firehouse set a new standard for municipal architecture.  As the newspaper article featured in the presentation declared it was the “Finest Firehouse in the World.”  HDC recommends that any alterations be as harmonious as possible to Napoleon Le Brun’s masterwork.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 102175
Manhattan, Block: 474, Lot: 60
74 Grand Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

A neo-Grec style loft building designed by George DaCunha and built in 1886 Application is to demolish the building and dismantle the store front and the cast iron facade for future installation

74 grand

HDC Testimony
This difficult proposal raises two issues – first, the fate of 74 Grand Street and second, the depressingly increasing list of landmarked buildings that are proposed to be demolished because of owner neglect or improper work at neighboring sites.

HDC is glad that time is being taken to discuss the possible demolition of 74 Grand Street, rather than immediate demolition like that of 71 Reade Street this past spring.  The fact that this building has remained standing 5 years after it first began to experience problems from the neighboring excavation without needing emergency demolition is a good argument that such a drastic measure should not be taken.   HDC believes that instead, with some careful work akin to making a bed while the patient is still in it, 74 Grand can be saved.  As a freestanding structure, the building is in danger, but with a building next door to brace it, it would be better off.  The cast iron could be dismantled and then reapplied after masonry and structural repairs.  Yes, this would be difficult, but doing what needs to be done to preserve a building is part of life in an historic district.   In addition to being the right thing to do, when one considers the work and expense (not to mention risk) of documenting and storing the facade long term, the effort may be financially worth it.

If the building is dismantled and demolished, HDC has a number of questions about future construction at this site and the fate of the cast iron.  Will the building be reconstructed to its original design or will the cast iron be reincorporated into a new design?  How and where will it be stored?  The specter of the stolen Bogardus building serves as a warning against this project.  What assurance do we have that it will be done correctly?  The same assurance we had that the excavation next door would be done properly and no harm would come to neighboring structures?  Once bitten, twice shy – frankly, there needs to be an assurance greater than that. HDC is not sure exactly what legal tools the Landmarks Commission has to enforce compliance – either of proper reconstruction or, better yet, repair and restoration of this building – but we strongly, strongly urge the Commission to use whatever it can to make this case right. If that means an injunction, then please file one or that means a lien on the property, well it’s already leaning. Over the past few years, it’s been painful to have watched so many protected historic buildings become grievously injured from collateral construction.  Even more than damaging the historic buildings, these blows against landmarks have damaged the premise of preservation, of treating our built history with care and protecting our built heritage from needless destruction. In this instance, HDC insists that the Landmarks Commission do whatever it can to rescue and restore this beleaguered building.

LPC Determination: Approved

Hearing Date:  9/22/2009
LPC Docket Number: 101612
Manhattan, Block: 1029, Lot: 27
205 West 57th Street – The Osborne Apartments, Individual Landmark

A Romanesque Revival style apartment building built in 1883-85 with additions constructed in 1889 an 1906 Application is to alter penthouse

e osborne

HDC Testimony
HDC does not find the design of this penthouse to be appropriate for the individually landmarked Osborne Apartments.  The gable form is a noticeable contrast to the prominent horizontal elements of the building such as the stringcourses and the projecting cornice.   This factor along with the addition’s height makes the addition very visible.  We recommend that a flat roof, no taller than the existing, be used instead.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications

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