Built as the West 135th Street Branch Library, the former Schomburg Collection building at 103 West 135th Street was designed in 1904 by the eminent firm of McKim, Mead & White. Small and dignified, the structure is one of the eleven elegant neo-Classical buildings that the firm designed for the New York City Public Library system under a generous grant from Andrew Carnegie.
Located in the heart of Harlem, the Library Branch became a center of black cultural events during the 1920s, as the well-known Schomburg Collection on black history and culture, housed in the building, served as a magnet to countless intellectuals drawn to the area during the “Harlem Renaissance.” Distinguished by a fine architectural design, the building is also nationally significant as a cultural center and a site where the documentation of the black experience was a long and important tradition.
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society