HDC Statement on 339 West 29th Street aka Hopper-Gibbons House
HDC thanks Friends of LaMartine Place, our elected officials and our partner organizations for remaining in coalition for all of these years to preserve the Hopper-Gibbons house’s legacy. Our collective cause has brought us together once again in what is the latest attempt to legitimize the marring of history.
The persisting presence of the illegal fifth floor addition is an affront to our history, our culture, and the law. From start to finish, this catastrophe has been self-inflicted by the owner and has come at the expense of the community.
HDC is alarmed that an application has been filed with the LPC to determine appropriateness. What the owner has defined as appropriate in the renderings submitted has been defined as illegal by the New York State Supreme Court Appellate Division. Even more concerning, another city agency, the DOB, has failed to correct this situation by court order for over a year.
The applicant has stated that the “back story” of this building is “not relevant” to this current application to the LPC. We could not disagree more, because at no. 339, its history, and back story, is everything. This is one of the few sites in New York City that was designated for its cultural significance, as opposed to aesthetics, as this row of houses survived the Draft Riots of 1863. Further, no 339 is the only known, extant Underground Railroad stop in Manhattan.
Of all of the alterations that can be made to this building, short of demolition, building a rooftop addition and effectively destroying the path of the building’s escapees from 1863 is the most injurious. These houses were here before we were, and HDC will advocate to ensure that they remain long after we are gone, so that these structures can continue to speak to a past in a city that will inevitably keep changing around them.