Setting the Record Straight on the Provincetown Playhouse
This past Saturday, GVSHP, the Historic Districts Council, representatives of NYU staff and several community groups (see full list of co-sponsors HERE) picketed outside NYU’s Open House for the “re-opening” of the Provincetown Playhouse to tell the truth about NYU and what happened to the Playhouse.
We distributed literature to attendees and the press outlining how NYU had actually demolished 94% of a building ruled eligible for the State and National Register of Historic Places (which included the first Provincetown Playhouse at 139 MacDougal Street) and broke its promises regarding the preservation and restoration of the current Provincetown Playhouse theater, including preserving the theater’s four walls, re-using the theater's few remaining historic features, and restoring those the university had destroyed during its two and a half decades of ownership of the Playhouse (see our flyer HERE).
Our side of the story made it into the coverage of what NYU claimed was a broadly-embraced “preservation” project (see stories in the NY Times, on NY1, and in Curbed), and more than a few visitors and passersby learned about NYU's track record with this and a long line of projects and broken promises (see images HERE). Thank you to everyone who participated, and especially to La Lanterna di Vittorio restaurant at 129 MacDougal Street, which provided hot drinks and delicious treats to all demonstrators.
We are also seeking to ensure that the mistakes made here are not made even worse in the future. GVSHP has consistently called upon NYU to commit in writing to keep the theater space on this site in use as a theater in perpetuity (NYU had sought to convert the theater to classroom space in the 90s) and not to use the unused development rights on this site to make the building larger in the future (NYU and supporters of the project have pointed to the university not building to the maximum allowable size in this case). NYU has consistently refused to do so, and of course the university has a long track record going back on the terms under which its projects were developed in the first place. Therefore GVSHP has written to the local elected officials who supported this project, urging them seek an explicit commitment from NYU on these two critical issues (see our letter HERE). Without this, we fear that as with so many NYU projects, the university may simply turn around at some point in the future and say that they need the theater and the unused development rights for their growing space needs, and these will disappear as well.