AFTER NEARLY HALF-CENTURY WAIT,
200 YEAR OLD HOUSE AT 57 SULLIVAN STREET
TO FINALLY RECEIVE LANDMARK DESIGNATION
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) hailed the decision announced today by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to recommend 57 Sullivan Street for landmark designation as part of its “Backlog Initiative”. This 1816 federal-style house was first considered for landmark designation in 1970. In 2002, GVSHP and the New York Landmarks Conservancy began a push for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to re-consider 57 Sullivan Street for landmark designation, proposing it as one of 13 federal-era (1790-1835) houses in Lower Manhattan for landmark designation (nine of the other twelve houses have already been landmarked). In 2009 the Commission heard 57 Sullivan Street again, but did not vote. In 2013, GVSHP successfully nominated 57 Sullivan Street for the State and National Registers of Historic Places as part of the South Village Historic District.
It is deeply gratifying that, after nearly a half-century, the two hundred year old house at 57 Sullivan Street we fought for years to landmark will now finally receive the protections it deserves. This charming historic house was the first and only structure ever built on this site, and has remarkably survived subway construction, street widenings, the building of the Holland Tunnel, tremendous development pressure, and any number of other urban transformations which consumed so many of its neighbors. This survivor will now hopefully live for another two centuries or more. It’s remarkable that after first being considered for landmark designation nearly a half century ago, and a fourteen year campaign to get it reconsidered for landmark designation, 57 Sullivan Sullivan Street will now finally be landmarked as it hits its two hundredth birthday. While the current owners have been incredibly dedicated caretakers of this property for many years, landmark designation ensures that no matter what the future holds, or who owns this historic house, it will always be here for New Yorkers to appreciate.
Read GVSHP’s letter to the LPC about 57 Sullivan Street here and its testimony in support of designation here; more background here.
57 Sullivan Street is also located within the third phase of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District. Most of the first phase was landmarked in 2010, and most of the second phase was landmarked in 2013. However, the City has thus far refused to consider this third and final phase.
Federal houses such as 57 Sullivan Street are among the oldest structures in New York and in many cases were the very first structures built upon the land upon which they sit. The style derives its name from the fact that it emerged in the years directly following the American Revolution and the adoption of our federal system of government. Since 1997, it has been a special part of GVSHP’s mission to advocate for preservation of federal-style houses in Lower Manhattan. During that time, GVSHP has successfully advocated for landmark designation of more than 113 federal houses. Additionally, GVSHP has successfully nominated 87 federal houses for the State and National Registers of Historic Places, which offers tax breaks and other incentives for preservation and restoration of historic properties, but does not prevent demolition. Sixty-two of those houses have also been landmarked, making a total of 138 federal houses in Lower Manhattan for which GVSHP has successfully advocated for landmark designation and/or State and National Register of Historic Places listing (full list here).
For images of and information on some of the more than 113 federal houses GVSHP has helped get landmarked, click here. For images of and information on some of the more than 1,100 buildings GVSHP has helped get landmarked since 2003, click here.
At today’s public meeting, the Landmarks Preservation Commission also voted not to recommend for landmark designation three other sites GVSHP had advocated for – the federal-style house at 138 Second Avenue (1832), the federal style house at 2 Oliver Street (1821), and the former James McCreery & Co. Store (now “The Cast Iron Building”) at 801-807 Broadway/67 East 11th Street (1868). Each of these buildings has rich histories; 2 Oliver Street and the James McCreery Store were both first considered for landmark designation in 1966, within a year of the establishment of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. 138 Second Avenue was first considered for landmark designation on 2009.
We are disappointed that the Commission has chosen not to recommend these extraordinary historic buildings for landmark designation. Some have waited fifty years for a decision by the Commission. We are especially concerned how much longer the nearly two-hundred year old houses at 2 Oliver Street and 138 Second Avenue will survive without landmark protections.
The LPC’s votes today were part of their “Backlog Initiative,” intended to render final decisions upon ninety-five sites which had been under consideration for landmark designation for more than five years. The Commission originally proposed in late 2014 to de-calendar all ninety-five sites en masse without any hearings or any consideration of the merits of each site for landmark designation. GVSHP and other preservation organizations strongly objected, and called instead for the Commission to instead hold public hearings on each site and to consider each for designation, which the Commission agreed to do.