GVSHP needs your help to save two unique and threatened historic houses in the East Village. 328 and 326 East 4th Street, located between Avenues C and D, are two miraculous survivors whose histories reflect the East Village’s evolution from working waterfront neighborhood to immigrant melting pot to home of the largest Jewish community in the world to bohemian ground zero. Constructed in the late 1830s, they were the first and only structures ever built on these sites, and though somewhat deteriorated, they retain an incredible level of original Greek Revival architectural detail rarely seen in New York (see images and details HERE).
But because a new owner is seeking to drastically alter and build over these houses, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the East Village Community Coalition have called upon the city to consider them for landmark designation right away (read our letter HERE). Landmark designation would still allow the buildings to be restored or allow modest and appropriate alterations or additions, but would ensure that the incredible architectural integrity of these buildings is maintained and that their unique history is honored and preserved.
But we need your help! So far the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has been unwilling to move to landmark these houses (read their response HERE). But GVSHP has unearthed incredible documentation showing the house’s original owner built the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean (nearby Avenue D was the East River’s edge, which in the early 19th century was full of working piers before shipping activity shifted to the wider and deeper Hudson); that in the late 19th century these houses were transformed from homes of successful merchants into tenements to house the waves of immigrants moving into the area; that in the early 20th century 326 and 328 East 4th Street were converted to house a Hungarian Synagogue, as the Lower East Side became the largest Jewish community in the world; and that in the 1970s, they became the home of the Uranian Phalanstry, a self-described “anarchist utopian commune for practitioners of art and cosmology,” which still resides there today.
Read the full history we submitted to the LPC HERE, or you can read more about the Phalanstry, and the effort to save these buildings, in today’s NY Times HERE.
Amazingly, through all of these changes, the architectural detail of these 170 year old houses remains remarkably intact. We hope that this, along with the incredible history we have documented, will convince the the Landmarks Preservation Commission to take a second look at these buildings, and not allow them to be destroyed on their watch.
YOU CAN HELP! Please write a letter to the city today urging the Commission to consider landmark designation for 326 and 328 East 4th Street right away, and to protect these remarkable survivors which capture so many important aspects of the evolving history of the East Village and New York — CLICK HERE for a sample letter and contact information.
GVSHP’s work on 326 & 328 East 4th Street is part of our ongoing effort to research and document the history of every building in the East Village, and to propose comprehensive historic district and landmark protections for the neighborhood. Read more HERE and HERE.