On Landmarking The Garner Mansion
Statement of the Historic Districts Council
Landmarks Preservation Commission Designation Hearing, June 28, 2011
Item 15 : LP – 2245
BOROUGH OF STATEN ISLAND
WILLIAM T. & MARY MARCELLITE GARNER MANSION, 355 Bard Avenue
The Historic Districts Council is the advocate for New York City’s designated historic districts and neighborhoods meriting preservation.
The Garner Mansion has been in landmark limbo, heard but not designated, for forty-five years. HDC has testified before on the striking architecture and the cultural and historic importance of this building, and we hope that its time for designation is nearing.
HDC was happy to hear that the proposed site was recalendared to include more land. The country atmosphere was not only key to the summer house when it was built around 1860, it is also what drew the Sisters of Charity to establish St. Vincent’s Hospital here. Much like the land of the designated Seaview Hospital, the Garner Mansion’s open space speaks to the important role of fresh air in medical treatments.
We are disappointed though that the extension now seems to be denigrated by the commission. The handsome extensions, in particular the wooden Colonial Revival frame addition dating from the time first hospital c.1903-1906, originally nurses’ training school, are important layers of this building’s rich history. Just last year, the LPC write up on the wing noted it is “a significant reminder of its [the hospital’s] early history. Clad with shingles, the wing retains most of its Colonial Revival wood trim including a fanlighted entry, multi-light windows and denticulated cornices.” When demolition of all the buildings of St. Vincent’s medical complex in Manhattan was proposed in 2008, LPC required that the majority of the buildings be saved, all of them decades younger than the Garner addition. HDC sincerely hopes that the physical reminders of the historic Staten Island St. Vincent’s outpost will receive similar consideration and protection. At the very least, this piece should remain in the landmark site as a significant feature so that future alterations or development can be regulated sensitively by the commission. Extra land protected on the perimeter is no trade off for property physically joined to the building.