Fight to preserve 18th Century Houses on Greenwich Street continues
From the Downtown Express
Preservationists fight to save 3 rowhouses on Greenwich
By Skye H. McFarlane
The original residents of 96 Greenwich St. could never have imagined this: More than two centuries after its construction, their modest brick home is caught at the center of a battle between a hotelier, a gentleman’s club and a host of preservationists.
When the brick houses at 94, 94 ½ and 96 Greenwich St. were built at the turn of the 19th century, John Adams was president and the White House was still under construction. Closer to home, Greenwich St. was an up-and-coming residential thoroughfare populated by wealthy middle-class merchants, some of whom owned summer homes up north in Greenwich Village.
The houses stood side-by-side next to dozens of others with the same narrow, brick facades — three stories high and three windows across — sloping roofs, high ceilings and long rectangular floor plans. The buildings’ style, now called “federal row house,” was simple but grand at a time in which most New Yorkers still lived in single-story wooden buildings.
In the 200 years that followed, the three row houses endured many changes that those original residents of the newborn United States could never have envisioned. The sloping roofs were converted into fourth stories and the neighborhood transformed itself many times over. The other houses became parking garages and office buildings. The ground floors of 94, 94 ½ and 96 were gutted and redone repeatedly. They now contain a café, a pizza parlor and an adult club, respectively. Now, with Lower Manhattan rebuilding yet again, preservationists are pressing to landmark the houses to protect them from the onslaught of new development.