A recent report about a possible five-story expansion atop a century-old building has inspired us to share a bit about this capacious three-story brick structure, which stands at the southeast corner of Second Avenue and 2nd Street. (If you click through to the report, you’ll see in the comments that the current owner denies any expansion.) Part of the expanded East Village/Lower East Side Historic District, the largest historic district in the neighborhood, the building you may know as the Anthology Film Archives was actually the Third District Magistrates Court building , constructed from 1917-1919 to host the magistrate court. It is eligible for listing on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
The City of New York Board of City Magistrates hired architect Alfred Hopkins (who was known for designing many institutional buildings throughout New York City and federal penitentiaries in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Midwest) to design the civic structure, which was originally conceived as a 14-story “skyscraper-type” courthouse and prison in 1913. Hopkins substantially scaled back the plans in his 1917 redesign, which resulted in the extant three-story Renaissance Revival fortress-like building, modeled on European prisons. According to the New Building Application, the building was projected to cost $150,000. It would replace the Municipal Court building on Madison Street, the Ludlow Street jail, and the Essex Market Courthouse and district prison.