Expanding Historic District Boundaries- Mount Morris Park

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MOUNT MORRIS PARK HISTORIC DISTRICT AND PROPOSED EXTENSION

The Mount Morris Park Historic District in Harlem consists primarily of attractive late 19th- and early 20th century rowhouses, designed in the Romanesque Revival, neo-Grec, Queen Anne and other styles inspired by the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago of 1893. The district’s designation report makes note of the “unusually handsome townhouses” that contribute to the character of the historic district. The historic district also encompasses a number of fine churches, such as St. Martin’s Episcopal Church – considered to be the city’s finest example of Romanesque Revival architecture.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission initiated the designation of the Mount Morris Park historic district. They calendared and heard the district in 1966, just one year after the Commission’s creation, and they officially designated it five years later. Mount Morris Park is a prime example of how the Landmarks Preservation Commission was overly cautious in its early years with historic district boundaries. The boundaries selected for the Mount Morris Park Historic District only include the blocks between West 119th Street and West 124th Street, from Lenox Avenue (now Malcolm X Boulevard) to Mount Morris Park West. Similar boundaries were used when the district was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. These boundaries omit the area west of Lenox Avenue and therefore do not reflect the traditional extent of the neighborhood.

In 1996, the boundaries of the Mount Morris Park National Register historic district were expanded west to include the blocks between Lenox Avenue and Seventh Avenue (now Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard). This district was also extended south to include some of West 118th Street. The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association is now advocating to extend the New York City historic district designation to reflect the boundaries of the National Register district. The proposed extension hopes to expand the designated to more nearly reflect the traditional boundaries of the neighborhood, while recognizing that some blocks have been so altered that they can no longer be included. The houses in the proposed extension are similar in character, scale and style to those in the designated historic district.

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