We were extremely saddened to read on EV Grieve this morning that Cornell Edwards, owner of the Flower Stall at 143 E. 13th St, has passed away. Cornell opened The Flower Stall in 1967, and since that time was not only a devoted small business owner, but also a wonderful steward of the neighborhood and of his building. He will certainly be missed.
Before his passing, Cornell was a fixture on East 13th Street. He could often be found standing in the doorway of his shop, greeting passersby and providing “eyes on the street” as the neighborhood underwent 44 years of change. In Cornell’s later years, he was even known to speak out against New York University’s poor neighborly conduct.
Cornell’s legacy lives on in the neighborhood…
Cornell achieved local celebrity status for his featured role in Twilight Becomes Night, Virginie Alvine-Perrette’s heartwrenching and eye-opening documentary about the loss of neighborhood stores in New York City. For those who have not yet seen the film, you can catch it at the Film Forum on Monday, April 25th as part of GVSHP’s Community Documentaries program.
With this sad news, we can’t help but wonder: What will happen to 143 East 13th Street? The pre-law tenement in which The Flower Stall is housed has always been one of our favorite buildings in the East Village. Constructed in 1863, the building contains one of the most pristine and intact tenement storefronts to be found in New York City today. Nearly every detail is exactly as it would have been when the building was first constructed – from the interior columns to the exterior pilasters with their ornate capitals.
Cornell was a remarkable steward of his building, and the storefront’s uncertain future highlights the need not only for legislation to ensure the survival of small businesses that are so crucial to the functioning of healthy neighborhoods, but also for landmark protections in the East Village to guarantee that rare architectural treasures such as this are not destroyed and lost forever.
Our research on 143 West 13th Street comes from our larger East Village survey. With funding from the Preservation League of New York State, GVSHP has been researching the history of every single building in the entire neighborhood with the goal of beginning a conversation about the roles that landmarking and other preservation initiatives can play in the future of the East Village. Please click here to learn how you can get involved with our preservation efforts in the neighborhood.