Description & Building Alterations
Based on historic maps, this lot was Primary School No. 31, built in 1867. In 1899 it was changed to Public School No. 131, as it remained until at least 1924. Historic photos show a three-story building with very large second and third story windows. In 1944, the building was being used as a coal depot for the city. A 1947 New York Times article states that in this year the school was converted into an 18-unit emergency housing location for veterans. In 1955, the building was owned by Congregation Sheris Adoth Israel Inc. and was functioning as a synagogue. This date is interesting because, in this same year, the synagogue that was present on Lot 60 left. In 1970 it was operating as a day care and in 1973 the building functioned as the offices and school of the Negro Action Group.
According to the Children’s Aid Society’s 1895 Annual Report, the organization’s German Industrial School was located at 272 Second Street. This address was, at the time, Primary School 31. Records over the years are not conclusive, but the present-day 268-272 East 2nd Street may be the same building, albeit in altered form, that housed CAS’ German Industrial School in the 1890s.
Today, the building is owned by Homeless Services United and functions as Barrier Free Living Inc. This is a 48-bed transitional housing facility that gives homeless people with disabilities a place to stay until they find permanent housing. By comparing the height of the building relative to the building on the neighboring lot, in historic photographs versus present ones, it can be determined that height was added to the structure at some point, as it is now four stories. It appears, though, that the shell of the building, minus the height extension, has not changed from 1920. The slight façade set back on the sides of the building is the same. The ground floor façade and window enframements are also the same as the 1920 photo. The windows have all been changed and the façade most likely has been stuccoed over. The pediment above the cornice has also been removed. The cornice is not identical to the one in the historic picture, but it does mimic many of its details.
Block : 372 / Lot : 064 / Building Date : 1867 / Original Owner : New York Center / Original Use : Institutional / Original Architect : Unknown