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Three of GVSHP’s thirteen proposed Federal houses designated

PRESS RELEASE

For Immediate Release
Contact: Andrew Berman, Executive Director
June 26, 2005
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation
(212) 475-9585 x38

GREENWICH VILLAGE SOCIETY FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION HAILS

LANDMARKING OF THREE EARLY 19th CENTURY HOUSES IT FOUGHT TO PROTECT;

MacDougal Street Houses Were Part of List of 13 Federal-Era Houses

Proposed For Preservation By GVSHP and NY Landmarks Conservancy

Manhattan — The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation today hailed the designation of three early 19th century Federal-era houses at 127, 129, and 131 MacDougal Street as landmarks by the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. For over a year, GVSHP and the NY Landmarks Conservancy had campaigned to have these three houses, along with ten other federal-era houses in Lower Manhattan, landmarked to ensure their continued survival (for copy of landmarking proposal, click here. Landmark designation will prevent demolition or any attempts to significantly alter these three 175-year old houses, located just south of Washington Square Park.  Federal era houses were built between 1790 and approx. 1830, and represent the first architectural style of the newly unified United States of America.

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has long worked to protect undesignated federal houses in Lower Manhattan, and unprotected historic properties in Greenwich Village. 127, 129, and 131 MacDougal Street were first heard by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for landmarking in 1966, but were never acted upon. In 1995, GVSHP first embarked upon documenting and advocating for the protection of all of the 150 surviving unprotected federal era houses in Lower Manhattan (another 150 such houses were already protected by landmarking) with the assistance of a grant from Preserve New York (a grant program of the Preservation League of NY State and the NY State Council on the Arts); the study was subsequently continued and greatly expanded by former GVSHP staffer Susan DeVries. 

In 2003, GVSHP joined with the NY Landmarks Conservancy in calling for the designation of 13 prime examples of the types of unprotected federal houses of Lower Manhattan examined in the study; in addition to 127-131 MacDougal Street, this included 4 St. Mark’s Place; 67, 94, 94 1/2, 96, 486, and 488 Greenwich Street; 57 Sullivan Street; 2 Oliver Street; and 7 Leroy Street. In 2002, when there was speculation that NYU might try to purchase all or some of the houses for development along Washington Square, GVSHP was joined by several elected officials in calling for the University not to take any action which would result in the destruction or compromise of the houses; NYU subsequently declined to purchase the property. GVSHP was particularly concerned that the three houses, possibly along with the neighboring NYU-owned Provincetown Playhouse, would make a very large and attractive development parcel, and highlighted the effort to save it as a cover story in its Fall 2003 newsletter. GVSHP launched a letter-writing and e-mail campaign by its members to encourage the Landmarks Preservation Commission to save these and other federal rowhouses. GVSHP was also particularly interested in the survival of these houses as they are part of a tour of Washington Square Park given to more than 1,000 school children a year by GVSHP as part of its Children’s Education Program History and Historic Preservation, offered to school children throughout New York City (for more information about the program, click here).

The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has also been building a proposal for the landmark designation of the South Village neighborhood, an area that includes 127-131 MacDougal Street. To do this, GVSHP is conducting in-depth historic research on every building in the South Village, and has constructed a virtual tour of the area to build interest in the effort. GVSHP is also currently engaged in a campaign to secure landmark protections for the gravely endangered and unprotected Far West Village and Greenwich Village waterfront; GVSHP has urged supporters to write to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to thank them for protecting 127-131 MacDougal Street, but to also urge them to similarly protect the other 10 proposed federal rowhouses, the Far West Village, and the South Village (click here for sample letter).

“We are all the better today for the Commission’s actions protecting these three great reminders of our City’s storied past. I hope the Commission will continue with this work, and protect the other 10 federal houses we have identified, as well as the endangered historic areas of the Far West and South Village, which lack landmark protections but face tremendous threat to their wonderful historic buildings,” said GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman.

State Senator Tom Duane, City Council Member Christine Quinn, Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and the Historic Districts Council, among others, also supported designation of 127, 129, and 131 MacDougal Street.

-end-

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