East Village Landmark Sites to be heard by LPC on 10/30
WEBSTER HALL AND FIVE OTHER EAST VILLAGE SITES TO BE CONSIDERED FOR LANDMARKING ON TUESDAY, OCTOBER 30th
* Fate of 128 E. 13th Street Stable/former Frank Stella Studios Still In Doubt
Webster Hall: Next Tuesday, October 30th, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will consider a proposal to designate Webster Hall at 119-125 East 11th Street an individual New York City landmark (see www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newyork/ny-bc-ny–websterhall-landm1022oct22,0,7817328.story). This summer, GVSHP supplied the Commission with the extensive research we compiled on the history of Webster Hall, and urged the Commission to landmark the site; shortly thereafter the Commission voted to consider the building for landmark designation (see www.gvshp.org/documents/WebsterHallLPCSubmission.pdf).
In addition to its architectural interest, Webster Hall embodies much about the social, political, and cultural history of downtown and the East Village. Originally a “hall for hire,” from the late 19th century through World War II Webster Hall was the scene of labor rallies, drag balls, costume bacchanals, and political protests. After World War II, it became an important performance venue for emerging Latin artists and folk musicians, and then a recording studio used by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Julie Andrews, and for the recording of soundtracks for Hello Dolly and Fiddler on the Roof.
Beyond preserving its notable history, landmarking of Webster Hall is made all the more necessary because the zoning for the area (which GVSHP is fighting to change — see www.gvshp.org/EVcorridor.htm) allows the construction of huge dorms and hotels, such as NYU’s 26-story mega-dorm, located on the same block (see www.gvshp.org/NYUDorm.htm#7Aug2006).
Five Other East Village Sites to Be Considered for Landmark Designation: In spite of its undeniably rich social, cultural, political, and architectural history, the East Village is sorely lacking in designated New York City landmarks to honor and protect its heritage (see www.gvshp.org/stann.htm). That is why it is encouraging to see the Landmarks Preservation Commission will be also considering five additional sites in the East Village for landmark designation on the 30th, including former synagogue, factory, social service, public bath, and bank buildings (see www.gvshp.org/documents/PublicHearing10-30-07EVBuildings.pdf).
GVSHP has spent the last three years conducting an exhaustive historic survey of the East Village (much as we did for the South Village from 2002-2006), and we expect to use this fertile material to seek further recognition of landmark sites in the East Village.
Fate of 128 East 13th Street Stable/former Stella Studio Still in Limbo: GVSHP continues to advocate for landmark designation of 128 East 13th Street in the East Village, a rare surviving stable/horse auction mart which served as the studio of artist Frank Stella for several decades (see www.gvshp.org/stable.htm). After GVSHP brought a plan to demolish the building and replace it with an apartment building to the attention of the city a year ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held hearings on landmarking the structure, and signed a “standstill agreement” with the owner which prevents the building from being demolished or altered while designation is being considered. That agreement has been extended until January 2008.
While the Commission has still not made a final decision on landmark designation, there are some positive signs that the building will be preserved. The owner has sought and gotten the building listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, which provides opportunities for tax breaks and grants for restoring historic properties; we understand a long-term lease has been signed for use of the current property; and the owner has, in cooperation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission, gotten permits to do interior renovations which will accommodate the new use while maintaining the exterior of the building.
HOW TO HELP:
WRITE TO THE LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION SUPPORTING LANDMARKING WEBSTER HALL AND FIVE OTHER SITES IN THE EAST VILLAGE, URGING DESIGNATION OF 128 E. 13th STREET, AND URGING THE COMMISSION TO CONSIDER FURTHER LANDMARK PROTECTIONS FOR THE EAST VILLAGE — go to www.gvshp.org/WH128Letter.htm for a sample letter you can use.