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Annual Meeting & Village Awards

On June 16, 2014 GVSHP held its 34th Annual Meeting and 2014 Village Awards in the landmarked Auditorium of The New School. We looked back on GVSHP’s past year of work to protect the architectural heritage and cultural history of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo and celebrated this year’s awardees:

Watch the 2014 GVSHPAnnual Meeting & Village Awards

Read GVSHP Executive Director Andrew Berman’s annual report

View the accompanying slide presentation to the Executive Director’s report

View a Flickr photoset of the event

Read about the Awards in an article from the Villager newspaper


Read the Off the Grid Blog Post

La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club was founded by clothing designer and Louisiana native Ellen Stewart in 1961, in a tiny basement space at 321 East 9th Street. Ellen founded LaMaMa so that her brother and his friends would have a place to perform. The theatre survived by selling coffee and passing the hat, no admission was charged.

In 1969 Ellen found a permanent home in a dilapidated German music hall at 74A East 4th Street. She was a pioneer of what would eventually be referred to as “Off-Off Broadway.”

Prior to the founding of LaMaMa, aspiring actors and playwrights had virtually nowhere to present their work and hone their craft. Ellen gave them the home and audience they so badly needed. Her productions were created so that they could be done almost anywhere, in any type of theater both here and abroad.

Ellen’s vision was to create a truly international theater and art gallery that would promote international peace and understanding. LaMaMa was the first artistic home of many artists, including Sam Sheppard, Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen, Tom O’Horgan, and Phillip Glass.

Today LaMaMa is home to eighteen repertory companies and produces a new play every three weeks. They have three theatres on East Fourth Street as well as a rehearsal space on Great Jones Street and an art gallery on East 4th Street.
Thanks to Ellen’s habit of saving everything, the theater now has a large archive of old posters, scripts, props, costumes, and scenery which they make available to interested student groups as well as their performers and playwrights. Their collection has proved to be invaluable to students of early Off-Off Broadway theater.

La Mama has gained an international reputation by producing inexpensive experimental productions here and abroad. Ellen passed away early in 2011 but her legacy carries on.

LaMaMa is presented a Village Award for its pioneering and enduring leadership and service to the theater community, and for more than half a century of groundbreaking performances.

New York Central Art Supply

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In 1905 Benjamin Steinberg, a Russian immigrant who lived nearby on Second Avenue, opened a pawnshop at 64 Third Avenue specializing in engineering, architectural, and drafting instruments. He named his business after the New York Central Line, a train line that fascinated him and represented the idea of America to him. In the 1940s, his son Harold turned the business into an artist’s supply house. It was a shrewd decision because the neighborhood was becoming the center of New York City’s art district with many of the most innovative American artists working and living nearby. The family was able to purchase the building at 62 Third Avenue where it continues to be one of the country’s most acclaimed and comprehensive art supply stores.

Steven Steinberg, Benjamin Steinberg’s grandson, now runs the store, with help from his sister Marcia. Steven remembers making bicycle deliveries to Franz Kline and Willem de Kooning as a child. Steven’s son Doug is the fourth generation Steinberg to be involved in the business.

New York Central is as important today to the artists and art students who live in the neighborhood as it was in decades past. In the 1970s and 1980s, Steven Steinberg started importing some of the finest art materials from around the world, introducing goods that had been previously unknown to the American market.

Today, New York Central Art Supply offers one of the most extensive and well-priced selections of art paper in the country, and is the go-to place for unique and hard-to-find art materials.
Its sales staff of working artists is considered one of the most knowledgeable in the art supply business.

New York Central Art Supply is presented a Village Award for more than a century of providing artists with the most comprehensive stock of supplies and instruments available, and thereby keeping the creative spirit of the Village strong.

New York Marble Cemetery, Inc.

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The New York Marble Cemetery is the first privately owned, nonsectarian cemetery in New York City.  Opened in 1830, before the rural cemetery movement began, it is designated a NYC Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It remains as an urban oasis, hidden in the interior of an East Village block, its 156 marble vaults concealed beneath an open lawn, enclosed within a 12-foot marble wall and wrought iron gates. Today each vault belongs to the heirs of its owner of record, who is frequently the original 1830 purchaser.

The cemetery fell on hard times during the late 20th century, and the grounds became a haven for derelicts and drug addicts.  The marble walls fell into serious disrepair, were covered with vines, with some portions collapsed. In 2001, Caroline S. DuBois discovered that her 4th great grandfather was a vault owner, and several generations of her family were buried in the Marble Cemetery. She became involved because she just couldn’t let her great grandfather’s resting place become a dump; and as an environmental activist, she understood the value of open space in the city.

Landscape architect Gresham Lang has worked for the past fifteen years to restore the grounds.  By removing garbage, replenishing the soil, cutting back invasive trees and transplanting heirloom roses, he has transformed a blighted vacant lot into a secret garden.

The Cemetery is open to the public during its regular Open Gate Days once a month in the spring and summer, and has participated in Open House New York every year since its inception.  It is hoped that with continued owner interest and funding, that the Cemetery can be open to the public more often.

New York Marble Cemetery, Inc. is presented a Village Award for keeping a unique piece of the East Village and New York alive, and restoring it to a healthy, thriving condition.

Pino Prime Meats

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The 260-square foot South Village storefront that houses Pino Prime Meats has been a butcher shop for at least 100 years, as evidenced by the historic 1917 ice box built into a wall near the back. In 1978 Pino Cinquemani took over the butcher shop from his friend Mario, and now runs it with his two sons, Sal and Leo.

Pino was raised on a farm in Italy. He came to America on his honeymoon and he says he’s still on his honeymoon. He returned to Italy briefly, but a loyal customer in New York hired a private detective to track him down in Florence. The customer convinced Pino to come back because he said no one cut meat like Pino. Since that time, Pino has managed to establish a name for himself and serves hundreds of devoted customers each day. The shop made a cameo in the movies Godfather Part II and The Pope of Greenwich Village. It’s also been featured in numerous cookbooks, the authors of which are all customers. Every evening, they shave a layer of wood off the butcher block. Hence the sawdust on the floor.

Last year, together with several neighborhood residents and customers, Pino & his family successfully fought off a rent increase that would have forced them to close. A petition was circulated which garnered over 1,000 signatures. They were able to sign a five-year lease, so are safe for another four years. But they can’t be certain they’ll survive another threat and are anticipating another battle.

Pino Prime Meats is presented a Village Award for more than a century of providing extraordinary products and customer service to its customers in the historic South Village.

Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books

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Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books is a family-owned bookstore founded by husband & wife Village residents Jim Drougas and Indiana Bervis in 1992. They chose that name for the store to reflect a winsome and progressive spirit, which they hope the store embodies.

Initially, Jim’s focus was wholesale operations while Indiana created the retail store. Jim still attends book fairs locally and internationally, including those in England, Germany, and Holland, to bring bargain titles to the Village. He even used to sell books at the flea market at the Little Red School House, and still keeps a presence at small press book fairs.

The store has garnered much attention for its unusual name, but really deserves it for its consistent practice of stocking a broad range of titles on such figures as Aldous Huxley, Thomas Paine, and Bob Dylan, always at affordable prices. 

The store often appears on “best of” lists in such media outlets as the Village Voice, the New York Times, the Villager, and Buzzfeed. Jim’s reputation as a cultural advocate was also documented in a film shown this year at the School of Visual Arts Short Docs Film Festival called The Last Bohemian of Carmine Street.
Jim and Indiana have worked hard as small independent book sellers with their children Tayo and Juna assisting in the store. The family is also longtime residents of the neighborhood. 

Their influence continues through outreach to younger activists and work with well-known Village residents like Patti Smith, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Yoko Ono, Professor Irwin Corey, Art Spiegelman, Francoise Mouly, R. Crumb, and in the past, Allen Ginsberg, Susan Sontag and Lou Reed. They are (or were) regular patrons of the store over the years.

Unoppressive Non-Imperialist Bargain Books is presented a Village Award providing a unique, eclectic, and unabashedly and independent bookstore that’s accessible and affordable to all.

Village Community Boathouse

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The Village Community Boathouse (VCB) operates on the South side of Pier 40, in a space where community volunteers and students from area high schools and colleges build long rowboats and take them out on New York’s rivers and the harbor for trips of varying durations.

The typical style of rowboat they build and operate is called a Whitehall gig, a 25-foot-long rowboat that is traditional to New York waterways from the 18th and 19th centuries. Whitehall gigs hold four rowers, an experienced and well-trained coxswain, and up to two passengers.

Village Community Boathouse is open for rowing from April through October on Sundays at noon and on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings. It is free to the public, although donations are gratefully accepted. Village Community Boathouse and its predecessor, Floating the Apple, have been in existence for more than 15 years, and predate the Hudson River Park Trust. Last year, more than 1,500 people enjoyed this unique experience of New York from water level in replicas of these traditional craft that used to meet ships coming into New York Harbor before the days of tugboats.  Trips begin in the small bay created by Pier 40 which is protected from wind.

The boathouse’s tenure at Pier 40 is unclear, especially since, as we know, Pier 40 is in need of massive repairs. Village Community Boathouse has a month-to-month tenancy for free at the pier, which, while generous on the part of HRPT, means they could be evicted at any time.

The boathouse operates entirely on a volunteer basis. Being out on the water provides a unique perspective on our city, while participating in strenuous exercise — both in boatbuilding and rowing- that builds teamwork and provides a hands-on education about a unique slice of history. As the President, Sally Curtis, says, “The main thing is getting people on the water.”

Village Community Boathouse is awarded a Village Award for its unique and accessible way of connecting the Village to the Hudson River, and New Yorkers with our maritime history.

Kathy Donaldson: 2014 Regina Kellerman Award

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The Regina Kellerman Award is presented each year in honor of the Society’s first executive director, who dedicated her inspiring career to the preservation of the architecture and built environment of the Village.

Kathy Donaldson has been the president of the Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association since 1993, and has been a tireless guiding force in the organization since 1974. Kathy, in fact, is one of the founding members of her block association, and is responsible for many of their hallmark community initiatives. 

Bedford Barrow Commerce Block Association’s Ye Old Street Fair is now in its 40th year. This one-day street fair is a celebration, the goal of which is the beautification of the historic neighborhood.  All monies raised go to caring for the glorious old trees and plants in the neighborhood and to support local “grass roots” charities, including GVSHP, among others. 

When asked to detail some of her accomplishments, Kathy is quick to point out that she is the person responsible for the historic lamppost initiative that purchased and installed 15 turn-of-the-century (19th century) “bishop’s crook” lampposts in the neighborhood.  In addition to her devotion to the Bedford Barrow Block Association, Kathy is a Patrol Leader of the Christopher Street Patrol since 1990 and its Treasurer since 1995, Board Member of the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront, Founding Member and treasurer of the Greenwich Village Block Association, Member of the Greenwich Village Community Task Force, Board Member of the Caring Community outreach program since 2002, Co-Chair of the Caring Community Gala since 2005, Advisory Member and Board Member of the Cherry Lane Theatre and received a proclamation from the Manhattan Borough President in 2010 for her years of service to the Village. When asked how many hours she works on Greenwich Village community projects she responded — very precisely — “between 800 to 1,000 hours per year”. 

When asked why on earth someone would devote so much time, effort and energy to their community Kathy said “It’s simple. The West Village is a very small town thriving in a very large city and I am going to keep it that way”.

The Regina Kellerman Award is presented to Kathy Donaldson for her dedication and leadership in preserving, improving, and beautifying her beloved neighborhood for more than four decades.


Our thanks go to The New School for hosting this event.

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