FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 7, 2018
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LPC Designates The Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House In Sunset Park
This house is a rare example of a freestanding single-family home, significant to the early-20th century architectural development of Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
NEW YORK – Today, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) announced the designation of the Dr. Maurice Thomas Lewis House at 404 55th Street in Sunset Park as an individual landmark. This building is a rare example of a freestanding single-family home, significant to the early-20th century architectural development of Sunset Park in Brooklyn.
“This building is worthy of landmark status and I am delighted that the Commission voted to designate it today,” said Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan. “The Lewis House is a valuable part of the history and character of this neighborhood as attested by the Sunset Park community, who showed overwhelming support for its designation during the public hearing.”
The Lewis House, built in 1907 for the president of the nearby Bay Ridge Savings Bank on Fifth Avenue, stands out in the neighborhood due to its architectural character and grand scale. Designed by notable New York City architect R. Thomas Short in a restrained Renaissance Revival style, it features red brick and limestone facades, a stylized rusticated base, and a central portico entrance topped by a Palladian window. These important features are reflective of this popular early-20th century architectural style. It is also an excellent example of single-family residential development in a neighborhood comprised of mostly multi-family houses. At the time of construction, Sunset Park was a residential community for the working-and-middle-classes characterized by modest row houses, with mixed-use and commercial buildings along the avenues. Prominently located on the corner of 55th Street, this three-story mansion is one of the neighborhood’s largest single-family homes.
The house has undergone some alterations throughout the years, including the replacement of all windows and the installation of window security grilles, but it retains a high degree of integrity. The limestone and brick facades as well as the classical details typical of the Renaissance Revival style remain intact. It continues to be an important part of the streetscape and neighborhood.
At the public hearing, more than 30 people testified in favor of designating the house, including elected officials, neighbors, and local preservation advocates.
“I’m proud to see the community come together to preserve Sunset Park’s architectural treasures,” said Congress Member Nydia M. Velázquez. “I’m gratified that the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to protect the historic Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House, one of the last remaining mansions in the neighborhood.”
"I support the effort to landmark the building at 5501 4th Avenue, known as the Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House,” said Assembly Member Felix Ortiz. “This Renaissance-Revival-style building housed my Assembly district office for many years and should be preserved. It's one of Sunset Park's best structures."
“I am extremely thankful to the Landmarks Preservation Commission for granting landmark status to the Sunset Park's very own Dr. Maurice T. Lewis House, a jewel worthy of preservation, “ said Council Member Carlos Menchaca. “What we accomplished today is a testament of the power of community organizing. Our neighborhood will continue to fight against insensitive redevelopment. I invite all developers to join us in our mission to preserving our historic buildings.”
“We’re incredibly grateful to the LPC for recognizing the importance of this building in the context of our neighborhood,” said Lynn Tondrick from the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee. “We’re ecstatic at the vote to move forward with landmarking this property.”
“As integral as Sunset Park is to the past and the future of our neighborhood, so is the Lewis House,” said María Roca from Friends of Sunset Park. “Therefore, we’re thrilled with LPC’s recognition and action.”
About the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC)
The Landmarks Preservation Commission is the mayoral agency responsible for protecting and preserving New York City’s architecturally, historically and culturally significant buildings and sites. Since its creation in 1965, LPC has granted landmark status to more than 36,000 buildings and sites, including 1,407 individual landmarks, 120 interior landmarks, 10 scenic landmarks, and 141 historic districts and extensions in all five boroughs. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/landmarks and connect with us via www.facebook.com/NYCLandmarks and www.twitter.com/nyclandmarks.