In June, a petition was filed in New York Supreme Court to prevent the construction of an eight-story hotel next door to the historic Merchant’s House Museum in the East Village. Now, Curbed reports, the proposal to build the hotel was unanimously rejected Thursday by the City Council’s subcommittee on zoning and franchises. The 186-year-old townhouse belonged to hardware merchant Seabury Tredwell, who bought the 10,000-square-foot residence for $18,000 in 1832.
The museum via Google street view
The Merchant’s House Museum and its supporters filed a petition on Monday in New York Supreme Court against the construction of an eight-story hotel planned next door. The 186-year-old East Village home at 29 East Fourth Street belonged to hardware merchant Seabury Tredwell, who bought the 10,000-square-foot residence for $18,000 in 1832. The museum, which has been remarkably preserved since then, became the first property in Manhattan to be designated a New York City landmark in 1965. But landmark status does not guarantee protection from any adjacent construction projects. The museum is now taking legal action against the hotel project because, as its executive director, Margaret “Pi” Halsey Gardiner, told the WSJ: “It’s not going to be able to survive construction next door, I guarantee you.”
Did you know there are 23 house museums across the five boroughs? All of which are supported by the Historic House Trust, a nonprofit that works in conjunction with the Department of Parks & Recreation to preserve these sites of cultural and architectural significance. From farmer’s cottages to gilded mansions, these public museums span 350 years of city history and offer fun additions such as art collections, historic holiday-themed events, and specialized tours. Ahead, 6sqft has put together a list of 10 house museums that represent some of NYC’s most storied history.
In New York City, where buying and selling real estate is a high-stakes endeavor, the topic of historic and landmark designation is frequently raised. There are heated discussions on the subject of listing neighborhoods or buildings on the State and National Register of Historic Places or having them designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. It’s important to know what those organizations do and the distinctions between them. You could even be eligible for significant financial aid for your renovations if you own property in an historic district.
This year is full of celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, and in marking this milestone we tend to look at all of the historic buildings that have been perfectly preserved in their appearance and function. But what about those that retain their original character, yet have a new use? The folks over at CityRealty have taken a look at this group, focusing on city landmarks that have been converted from commercial spaces into condominiums. Zoning in on the five largest landmarks (by number of units), they found that owning a piece of history will cost you. In fact, the average unit price in these Manhattan landmarks was 45 percent higher than other condos; in Brooklyn, 26 percent.
Yesterday we rounded up some of the most heinous crimes committed against architecture in New York City, but today we’re taking a look at the sunnier side of things. Our list of architectural saviors includes sites saved from the wrecking ball, as well as those that have remained intact and been adaptively reused. And with city-wide preservationists celebrating this year’s 50th anniversary of the landmarks law, what better time to take a look back?
The exhibit’s title image © Iwan Baan for the Museum of the City of New York
Last night we attended the Museum of the City of New York‘s symposium, “Redefining Preservation for the 21st Century,” which explored the challenges and the opportunities of the preservation movement today and in the future. The event included such distinguished speakers as New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman, starchitect Robert A.M. Stern, preservation guru Roberta Gratz, and president of the Real Estate Board of New York Steven Spinola (needless to say, it was quite the lively discussion), and it kicked off the opening of the museum’s exciting new exhibit “Saving Place: Fifty Years of New York City Landmarks,” which marks the 50th anniversary of the landmarks law in NYC. As part of the symposium we got a first look at the exhibit, which opens to the public today.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, via Wiki Commons
With declining memberships, it has become a common issue among New York City religious institutions that they’re land-rich but cash-poor. To solve the problem, religious leaders are turning to the sale of air rights, allowing developers to build on unused land or above the existing structure or altogether transferring the rights to an adjacent property. It’s the latter trend that’s become the center of debate with St. Patrick’s Cathedral, along with other landmarked institutions, as they’re looking to change the air rights rules to allow transfers to properties that are not directly adjacent. The Wall Street Journal takes a close look at this trend and a city plan that would allow East Midtown landmarks to sell their air rights to sites that are several blocks away.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the creation of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, and thereby the Landmarks Law, the city has launched a new educational website, landmarks.nyc, that will grow its content throughout the year. The site offers digital features, a schedule of free- and low-cost events at landmarked sites throughout the city, slide shows from the agency’s historic photo archives, various blog posts, and walking tours.
Magnolia Grandiflora via Wiki Commons (L); Weeping Beech Tree via NY State Archives (R)
Last week we looked at the city’s oldest and tallest tree in Alley Pond, Queens, which got us thinking about one of the questions at the Preservation Trivia night we recently attended. What are the only two living things in NYC to have ever been landmarked? We’ll admit, we were stumped. We guessed Peter Stuyvesant’s pear tree and the World Trade Center Survivor Tree, which were both wrong. But they are trees: the Weeping Beech Tree in Flushing, Queens and the Magnolia Grandiflora in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn. And to make it even more exclusive, only the latter still survives; the Beech Tree died and was cut down in 1999.