Landmark Designation for The Bowery Mission

June 8, 2012

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Via email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Re: Landmark Designation for The Bowery Mission, 227 Bowery, Manhattan

Dear Chairman Tierney:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative - LESPI - is writing to support LPC’s designation of The Bowery Mission at 227 Bowery as an Individual Landmark.

This well preserved Neo-Grec style building, which dates from 1876, has functioned as the Bowery Mission since 1909 when the Mission took over the property. The richly ornamented Tudor Revival window bay, inserted by the Mission during the building’s conversion, is an important and aesthetically attractive alteration that broadcasts the structure’s communal function and proclaims its welcome to the poor and needy.

The building’s conversion to philanthropic use marked an important transitional time in New York’s attitude toward its poorest residents. Jacob Riis’s 1890 How the Other Half Lives awakened many New Yorkers to the immense suffering of the city’s impoverished. In the decades following its publication, new philanthropic groups were organized, charitable facilities constructed, and legislation and programs for low income housing initiated. The Bowery Mission is a product of – and exemplifies – this era’s activist Progressivism and heightened compassion.

The Bowery Mission clearly warrants landmark protection on both historical architectural and cultural grounds. We request that the LPC designate this important structure as an Individual Landmark as soon as possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc: Hon. Margaret Chin, New York City Council

 

Landmark Designation for Bowery Bank Building

May 14, 2012

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: Landmark Designation for The Bowery Bank of New York, 124 Bowery, Manhattan

Dear Chairman Tierney:

The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative - LESPI - is writing to support LPC’s designation of the former The Bowery Bank of New York, at 124 Bowery aka 230 Grand Street as an Individual Landmark. This Beaux Arts style building has a strong visual presence on the Bowery and has an aesthetically important relationship with the Bowery Savings Bank building, one of New York’s most cherished landmarks which flanks this building on either side.

The Bowery Bank building, constructed in 1901 by prominent architects York and Sawyer, is in the heart of the Lower East Side’s immigrant community. In New York, Beaux Arts architecture is perhaps stylistically unsurpassed in its outward expression of civic pride, virtue, stability and aspiration. 124 Bowery’s architecture tells an important story about the hopes and desires of the community it served: its monumental architecture proudly and emphatically proclaims its presence on the streetscape, and beautiful façade with classical ornamentation speaks of its long term contribution toward and commitment to the surrounding community. Today these values continue to ring true.

The building is a highly valued and irreplaceable architectural and cultural resource for both the Lower East Side and New York City as a whole. Its loss would diminish the architectural and cultural wealth of our community and city, as well as the Bowery Savings Bank’s architecture and aesthetics of the surrounding streetscapes. Only landmark status will ensure the preservation of this important structure.

We request that the LPC vote to designate 124 Bowery as an Individual Landmark as soon as possible. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

 

Landmark Designation for the Bowery

March 30, 2012

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

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re: The Bowery

Dear Commissioner Tierney:

Certainly the Bowery is one of our country’s best known thoroughfares. Its long and rich history in many ways mirrors –in perhaps an exaggerated way - the history of New York itself. From country road to commercial street to entertainment district to skid row to its current gentrification, the Bowery has seen highs and lows that are still very much evident in its buildings and streetscapes. Music, art, theater and literature have all thrived here. The Bowery has been a birthplace for many of the art forms we appreciate as truly American – vaudeville, jazz, abstract expressionism.

Now the Bowery as we know it, and as generations before us have known it, is rapidly disappearing. In order to preserve the Bowery it must be landmarked. The LPC must move quickly because development pressures are intense. We have already lost a lot; to lose the last semblances of what this storied street has meant to our city and country would be truly tragic.

There are questions regarding how much of the Bowery is intact enough to designate. The simplest approach is to first go after the “low hanging fruit:” the block between Grand and Broome Streets, east and west sides, is a wonderfully motley yet intact collection of early 19th to early 20th century styles that expresses the robust quality of the Bowery itself. The Federal, Italianate, Romanesque Revival, Classical Revival and early 20th century commercial vernacular buildings that jostle for attention compose a highly rich and spirited streetscape.

We were very disappointed to hear that LPC recently decided not bring this block forward as a Bowery historic district. Relatively minor alterations to buildings in an architecturally and historically valuable area should not be sufficient grounds to deny landmark protection. This raises the point of why, when LPC had already initiated the process of formally reviewing this district, were building owners allowed to demolish historic facade features. This incident and similar recent incidences in the East Village lead us to believe that it is time to reassess this aspect of the designation process.

We respectfully urge LPC to reexamine your decision regarding this district and instead move ahead without delay to landmark the Bowery between Grand and Broome Streets, and to review the rest of the Bowery, recently added to the State Register of Historic Places, to make sure we do not lose the Bowery’s varied and exuberant historic urban character that celebrates the very spirit of our city.

Thank you,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc: Hon. Margaret Chin, NY City Council

 

Landmark Designation for Horse Auction House

March 28, 2012

Honorable Robert Tierney, Chairman
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: Landmark Designation for Horse Auction House, 128 East 13th Street, Manhattan

Dear Chairman Tierney:

With its strong and unique architectural design and storied history, the Van Tassell & Kearney Horse Auction House at 128 East 13th Street is clearly a strong candidate for landmarking on both architectural and cultural grounds.

The 1903 structure, which had once served such wealthy New York families as the Vanderbilts and Belmonts, appears to be the last surviving example of a horse and carriage auction house in New York City. During World War II the building housed a training program for women working in wartime industry, part of a national effort that proved to be a milestone in the history of equal rights for woman. For many years it served as artist Frank Stella's sculpture studio: this seminal modern artist not only influenced a younger generation of artists but such prominent and influential architects as Frank Gehry.

Architecturally, the building's Beaux-Arts façade, defined by small ovular and round windows, a grand arch, and a barrel-vaulted roof profile, is highly distinctive. The bold and eye-catching composition and elegant but spare ornamentation reflect a wonderful aesthetic tension between honest functionality and gilded age embellishment.

Preservationists have been advocating for landmark protection for this building for quite some time. We ask the Commission to vote without delay to designate the Horse Auction House an Individual Landmark and grant this endangered historic structure the protection it deserves. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

Cc:
Honorable Rosie Mendez, NY City Council This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Susan Stetzer, Manhattan Community Board 3 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

LESPI's Public Hearing Testimony for Landmark Designation of the Proposed E 10th Street Historic District

TESTIMONY:
NYC LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION PUBLIC HEARING FOR THE PROPOSED EAST 10TH STREET HISTORIC DISTRICT
January 17, 2012

Good afternoon. My name is Richard Moses and I am President of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, also known as LESPI.

I want to start by saying that LESPI strongly and unequivocally supports landmark designation for the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District.

East 10th Street between Avenues A and B is one of if not the most significant blockfront in the East Village. This exceptional collection of historic structures has survived in remarkably good condition over the years. The buildings run a gamut of mid 19th to early 20th century types and styles that are a fascinating microcosm of the important architectural and social transformations that took place in the East Village at that time. Moreover, this street’s commanding presence at the north end of Tompkins Square Park – considered to be the “heart” of the East Village - provides a wonderful iconic view from within the park and serves as a landmark to passersby in the truest sense of the word.

In addition to its rich architecture, the East Village / Lower East Side is nationally known for its immigration, artistic, and political cultural history. It is essential that as a city we protect the relatively few historic streetscapes that still survive here. The proposed East 10th Street Historic District is one such blockfront that is now deservedly at the front of the line for landmark designation.

The East Village’s historic architecture has been and continues to be under a sustained assault from real estate development that typically does not respect this neighborhood’s unique heritage. As you know, in 2008 the National Trust for Historic Preservation listed Manhattan’s Lower East Side – which historically included the East Village - as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, and since then the destruction has only accelerated. Without landmark protection, the historic Lower East Side including the East Village will be virtually eliminated through demolition and architectural defacement. The community is well aware of this danger: as you know CB6 is in support of designation, and to date, from only a few tabling sessions in Tompkins Square Park, we have gathered over 1,000 signatures asking LPC to protect the EV/LES’s historic streetscapes, which I have with me here.

We thank the Commission’s staff for their excellent work on the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District, and respectfully urge the Commission to vote to landmark without delay. We also ask that LPC move quickly to hold a public hearing for and landmark the Proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District, whose historic buildings remain in danger until they enjoy full landmark district protection, and to move ahead to protect all of the East Village / Lower East Side’s intact historic streetscapes.

Thank you very much.

 

Landmark Designation for the Proposed E 10th Street Historic District

December 22, 2011

Robert Tierney, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Re: Designation of the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District

Dear Chair Tierney:

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative – LESPI – strongly and unequivocally supports landmark designation for the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District. We loudly applaud the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s move to quickly designate this district in order to prevent it from being potentially compromised by the construction of a rooftop addition, and thank the Commission’s staff for their hard work on this proposed designation.

The blockfront on East 10th Street between Avenues A and B is perhaps the most significant in the East Village. This striking collection of historic structures has survived in remarkably good condition over the years and retains its uniform scale. The buildings run a gamut of mid 19th to early 20th century types and styles, including rowhouses, tenements, and an institutional building, in styles as diverse as Greek Revival, neo-Gothic, Italianate, neo-Grec and neoclassical. Situated at the north end of Tompkins Square Park in the “heart” of the East Village, this historic streetscape provides a wonderful iconic view from within the park and serves as a landmark to passersby in the truest sense of the word.

LESPI’s mission is to advocate for the preservation of the architectural, historical and cultural heritage of Manhattan’s East Village / Lower East Side. Our focus is on historic streetscapes, which we believe truly reflect the history and architecture of this community. Historically the street is where much of the neighborhood’s life was lived (and continues to be lived), so it is not surprising that the East Village / Lower East Side’s historic buildings – the rowhouses and tenements peppered with small institutional and commercial buildings - can only be truly understood and appreciated in context with their neighboring structures. The Proposed East 10th Street Historic District fits this model. With the EV / LES’s historic resources falling prey to demolition and defacement on an almost daily basis, we believe that the LPC must act now to save these locally and nationally important neighborhoods’ intact historic resources for current and future generations

We urge the LPC to move as quickly as possible to landmark the Proposed East 10th Street Historic District. We also ask that LPC move without delay to hold a public hearing for and landmark the Proposed East Village / Lower East Side Historic District, whose historic buildings remain in danger of demolition, defacement and damage as well. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc:
Hon. Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President
Hon. Rosie Mendez, New York City Council
Kate Daly, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

 

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The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy