COMMISSION DESIGNATES BACKLOG SITES IN MANHATTAN AND STATEN ISLAND AS NYC LANDMARKS
In Addition to Former Firehouse, Engine Company 29 in Manhattan
(New York)- The Landmarks Preservation Commission today took the next step in its plan to address the backlog of calendared sites and unanimously voted to designate as New York City Landmarks seven of the thirty properties that were prioritized for designation at the Commission's February 23rd public meeting. The Commission designated eight backlog properties in the spring, and today's actions ensure that fifty percent of the properties prioritized during the agency's backlog initiative are protected.
The Commission granted protection to George William and Anna Curtis House, St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church Rectory, 92 Harrison Street House, and Prince's Bay Lighthouse Complex in Staten Island; and the 315 Broadway Building, St. Joseph’s Church, and St. Paul's Church in Manhattan. In addition, the Commission designated the The Former Firehouse, Engine Company 29 in Manhattan, which was not part of the backlog initiative.
“Today we designated eight great properties, including two freestanding houses, a commercial building, three religious properties, a lighthouse, and a firehouse— reflecting the rich and diverse historic architecture of our city, said Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.“ Our actions also mark significant progress in our plan to ensure that the backlog is resolved by the end of this year, having designated 15 of the properties prioritized for designation by the Commission.”
George William and Anna Curtis House
The George W. Curtis House at 234 Bard Avenue was built in 1859, and is an excellent example of a pattern-book-inspired Italianate style country residence. It was the home of the notable reformist George William Curtis, a distinguished author, editor, essayist, and lecturer. He was a writer for Putnam's Magazine and later for various Harper Brothers publications including Harper's Weekly, Harper's Magazine, and Harper's Bazaar. As a progressive thinker and persuasive lecturer, Curtis addressed major political issues of the time, such as slavery, women's suffrage, and civil service reform. His wife, Anna Curtis, was active in local organizations and came from a like-minded family of reformists. The house was built in Elliotville, an area that was developed in the 1840s by Samuel MacKenzie Elliot, a prominent eye surgeon and abolitionist, who attracted a group of notable activists to the neighborhood. Other Elliotville residents included the abolitionist, Sydney Howard Gay and the progressive reform leader, Josephine Shaw Lowell.
St. John's Rectory
St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church Rectory is prominently located at 1331 Bay Street in Clifton, and is an excellent example of an early free-standing Queen Anne style residence. The church was formally organized on September 23, 1843, at the home of William B. Townsend, to serve the needs of the Protestant Episcopal worshipers in the area of Clifton. For more than three decades, the Reverend John C. Eccleston served as the rector of St. John's Church. Under his leadership, the Church grew in prestige and the new church building and newly designated rectory were constructed. The rectory, located to the south of the church, was built in 1881-1882 by the builder John W. Winmill. The picturesque qualities of the Queen Anne style and the rectory's granite base, unusual among Staten Island's Queen Anne style houses, complement St. John's Protestant Episcopal Church, which was built from 1869-71.
92 Harrison Street
The 92 Harrison Street House is a 2 ½ story, free-standing, wood-framed dwelling in the Greek Revival style. It was constructed around 1853-54 for Richard G. Smith, most likely as an investment property. It is sited on a large lot at the junction of Harrison Street and Quinn Street, making it a focal point of the neighborhood. It is one of ten houses constructed on Harrison Street prior to 1860, and represents the first period of development as the Stapleton area was transitioning into a denser community. It is remarkably intact and serves as the only example of the temple form design on the street.
Prince’s Bay Lighthouse
The Prince’s Bay Lighthouse is one of New York City’s oldest surviving lighthouse complexes on Staten Island. Historically known as the Red Bank Lighthouse, it is located on the shore of Prince's Bay near the southern tip of Staten Island and stands on one of the highest bluffs on the southern shoreline, overlooking Raritan Bay. In 1864, the Federal Lighthouse Board, which was charged with upgrading navigational aids along America’s coasts, appropriated $30,000 to build the lighthouse. For over 100 years, the lighthouse served a critical role in guiding sailing ships along the coast of Staten Island bound for ports in New York and New Jersey. It is the only lighthouse complex within the five boroughs to be constructed largely of rusticated brownstone. The designation also consists of the two-story brownstone Keeper’s House, built in 1868 next to the Lighthouse and connected by a 15-foot long passageway; and the one-story fieldstone Carriage House, built in 1869, just west of the Keeper’s House.
The Lighthouse was decommissioned in 1922, and was purchased in 1926 by Mount Loretto, the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin. From 1988 until his death in 2000, Cardinal John O’ Connor used the Prince’s Bay Lighthouse Complex as a summer retreat, and the Lighthouse was dedicated in his honor in 2007. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation currently manages the property as a nature preserve. Today, the Prince’s Bay Lighthouse and Complex represents the maritime industry that once thrived on Staten Island.
The 315 Broadway Building is a palazzo-inspired store and loft of the type that once lined Broadway and shaped the streetscapes of pre-civil war New York. These “commercial palaces” were built in the 1850s-1860s throughout the wholesale dry goods district now known as Tribeca. The palazzo style had been popular in the 1830s-1850s among English cotton retailers, to whom it represented the architecture of Renaissance-era merchant princes and provided impressive exteriors for their businesses. The building was constructed as a speculative investment by the retired linen merchant Thomas Suffern in 1861. 315 Broadway has been leased by dozens of tenants since its construction, including the Hagstrom Company, Inc., a cartography and publishing firm that designed and printed the 1943-1956 New York City subway map, from 1948-1969.
St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church
St. Joseph of the Holy Family Roman Catholic Church at 401-403 West 125th Street is the oldest church building in continuous use north of 44th Street. Built in 1860 to house the “national” parish founded by the German residents of Manhattanville, St. Joseph's Rundbogenstildesign reflects both the ethnic makeup of its original congregation and the rural nature of its surroundings in the 19th century. The Rundbogenstil was developed in the early 19th century as an authentic German style and is characterized by round-arched openings, broad, smooth expanses of wall surface and simple ornament typically concentrated at the cornice and around windows and doors. Prior to 1935, the stained-glass windows were replaced and a niche was created above the entrance for a statue of St. Joseph. Today St. Joseph of the Holy Family serves a largely African-American and Latino congregation.
St. Paul Roman Catholic Church
Saint Paul Roman Catholic Church, completed in 1908, is significant as an excellent example of the late Romanesque Revival style, and represents one of the earliest Roman Catholic parishes in Manhattan, serving the East Harlem community since 1834. Located at 121 East 117th Street, the church was designed by the firm of Neville & Bagge, and the facade incorporates both medieval and classical features. Typical Romanesque Revival features that are present at the church include round-arch openings, towers, steep roofs, bold shapes, and carved medieval-style ornamentation. The front facade is particularly distinguished with an unusual “row” of five round-arch molded portals that is reminiscent of medieval cathedrals.
During most of the 19th century and into the 1950s, many Catholics within the parish boundaries identified with an Irish heritage, and this was reflected in the church’s congregation and activities. After World War II, the demographics of the area changed with an influx of Spanish-speaking Catholics, many from Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, and Latin America. By the 1960s, the archdiocese and the parish sponsored many cultural and social programs for East Harlem Latinos. Today, the church building retains a remarkable level of integrity of its historic design and materials and continues to serve a diverse East Harlem community.
The Former Firehouse, Engine Company 29
The Former Firehouse, Engine Company 29 at 160 Chambers Street is one of the city’s earliest surviving police stations, and an early example of the development of Chambers Street and southern Tribeca. It was built in 1832-33 as a three-story residence by Samuel Thomson, a noted builder. In 1836, David B. Ogden, a prominent lawyer, purchased the house and lived here until about 1848. New York City purchased the building in 1862 to serve as the 3rd Police Precinct Station House.
It was raised to five stories and altered in the Second Empire style in 1868 by Nathaniel D. Bush, the official architect of the New York City Police Department. The 3rd Police Precinct Station House was located here until 1875. The building then housed the House of Relief, a hospital under the charge of New York Hospital, from 1875 until 1894. In 1896 the building was further altered at the first story to house the New York City Fire Department’s Engine Company 29, who occupied the building from 1897 to 1947. The City retained ownership until 1962, and from 1947 to 1962 the Uniformed Fire Officers Association occupied the building. It was converted to commercial use in 1967, and since the mid-1980s the building has had commercial use at the ground story with residential units above. The building remains mostly intact since its 1868 and 1896 alterations.
Contact: Damaris Olivo / 212-669-7938