Another Piece of South Village History Destroyed
Last week, another wonderful link to the South Village’s proud and distinctive cultural history was destroyed due to a lack of landmark protections. The old painted sign over what was the “Fat Black Pussycat Theater,” one of the premier performance venues of its time and, by many historical accounts, the place where Bob Dylan wrote and first performed “Blowin’ In the Wind” in 1962, was painted over and lost forever. For more than 50 years the sign had stood as a reminder of the great musical history which was made at this site at 11-13 Minetta Street, and was an attraction to tourists from around the world (see GVSHP’s recent blog posts about it HERE). The sign’s destruction has garnered worldwide attention – you can see just some of the coverage in on Channel 4, Channel 7, in the Wall Street Journal, and the UK Daily Mail.
Unfortunately this speaks to the continued loss of our neighborhood and our city’s history resulting from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) failing to follow through on their promised consideration of this area for landmark status. GVSHP first approached the LPC about landmarking the area almost 10 years ago, and submitted a formal proposal almost five years ago. The LPC’s failure to act has already resulted in the destruction of the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments, the Circle in the Square Theater, the Sullivan Street Playhouse, the Tunnel Garage, and the 1861 rowhouse at 178 Bleecker Street, just to name some of the casualties. As appalling as these losses have been, however, further destruction of this neighborhood’s history and character can still take place if the LPC continues to sit on its hands.
While the Children’s Aid Society’s buildings at 209-221 Sullivan Street are now in the process of being sold, landmark designation of the South Village can ensure that the historically significant buildings are preserved, and that any new development on the site is compatible in design and scale to the neighborhood; without landmark designation, all the buildings can be demolished and horribly out-of-context development can take its place.
At 178 Bleecker Street, while the LPC failed to act to prevent the demolition of this 1861 rowhouse, in the center of a row of similar houses in the heart of the neighborhood, landmark designation of the area can at least ensure that new construction on the site respects the character and scale of the surrounding pre-Civil War houses and the adjacent landmarked, diminutive MacDougal Sullivan Gardens. Similarly, at 82 Thompson/183 Spring Street, landmark designation would ensure that any new development on this site is respectful of the adjacent ca. 1824 federal rowhouses.
It is not too late for the Landmarks Preservation Commission to keep its word and uphold its mandate to protect New York City’s historic landmarks.
Please write to the City TODAY urging them to finally move ahead with landmark designation of the remainder of the South Village – click HERE for sample letters you can use.
Read more about the South Village’s history, and our efforts to preserve it, HERE.