For nine decades the brick walls at 24-26 Alexander Street in Yonkers were known more for its portfolio of inmates than as a museum-like structure. But soon the classic two-story building will be liberated from its former life as a prison to house a collection of a very different kind.
As part of a concentrated effort by the City of Yonkers to continue the transformation of the area all along the Husdon River, Mayor Mike Spano was more than a little excited when art collector and dealer, Daniel Wolf, and his wife, the renowned artist and architect Maya Lin, expressed interest in the property.
Here were buyers who would more than appreciate the historic beauty of the arched limestone pediment surrounding the solid steel front door and terra cotta detailing around the windows and roofline, and were also offering the perfect opportunity to add an artistic vibe close to the newly bustling downtown.
With four decades’ worth of contemporary paintings, 19th- and 20th-century photography, prehistoric American art and ancient Chinese ceramics currently sitting in storage, Mr. Wolf was delighted to find a perfect new home for his collection. The expected more than $1 million in renovations will include not only gallery space, but the addition of two more floors for art studios designed by Ms. Lin, perhaps best known for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. (Though one of the jail cells will be kept as is simply for the fun of it.)
Already the vision of Mr. Wolf and Ms. Lin seems to be inspiring other artistic endeavors nearby, as Mr. Spano recently announced that New York artist David Hammons had purchased a warehouse on the city’s southwest side for an art gallery.
The renovation of the jail, an eyesore among newly-built apartment complexes, renovated historic buildings and lush “riverwalks”, is a welcome change to the residents living along the Hudson, and a key component in the mayor’s plans to develop a vibrant waterfront community which draws young residents to the area.
[Via New York Times]