Preserving Some of the East Village's History

From the New York Post


November 26, 2007 — Rapid real-estate development in the East Village has prompted preservationists to try to save the last remnants of the neighborhood’s immigrant history with a bid to landmark six buildings, including an old biscuit factory and Webster Hall.

Scattered across the community are buildings that played key roles in the lives of immigrants dating back to the 19th century, said Robert Tierney, chairman of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“These were important buildings,” Tierney said of the structures that were selected in a block-by-block study of the neighborhood, which has evolved from an immigrant ghetto into a trendy area that is also seeing development by an ever-expanding New York University.

“The path from Ellis Island went right through this neighborhood,” Tierney said. “As a example of the nation’s early immigrant history, the East Village is as good as any that’s left.”

Among the buildings proposed for landmark status:

* Webster Hall, 119 E. 11th St., once home to Bohemian balls, labor rallies and a recording studio where Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra performed. It continues today as a dance club and live music venue.

* Eleventh Street Public Bath, 583 E. 11th St., built in 1903 as the city attempted to improve hygiene among the poor and lower classes. It was converted into a photo studio by Eddie Adams.
* Elizabeth Home for Girls, 307 E. 12th St., built in 1891 by the Children’s Aid Society as a shelter for young women. It now has 13 co-op apartments.

* Beth Hamredash, 242 E. Seventh St., built in 1908 as a synagogue for Hungarian immigrants. Converted to residential use.

* The Public National Bank, 106 Avenue C, built in the early 1920s to serve primarily immigrant customers. Converted to apartments in the 1980s.

* Wheatsworth Factory, 444 E. 10th St., built in 1927 as a biscuit factory and the last remaining factory building in the neighborhood. Now a storage facility.

From the Villager:

The former Wheatsworth Factory, 444 E. 10th St., built in 1927, was where Wheatsworth crackers and Milk-Bone dog biscuits were once manufactured. One of the few remaining East Village buildings constructed for industrial use, it is being considered for landmark designation by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Art Deco/Viennese Secessionist-style factory was built for about $1 million. National Biscuit Company acquired Wheatsworth in 1931. Now known as Nabisco, the company sold the rights to Milk-Bone dog biscuits in 2006 but still makes Wheatsworth crackers.

Posted Under: East Village, LPC

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