Cornell Edwards of The Flower Stall, 1932-2011

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.

Cornell Edward opened the Flower Stall in 1967

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.

As seen here, Cornell could often be found conversing with neighbors and customers outside his store

Cornell’s legacy lives on in the neighborhood…

Cornell Edwards, 1932-2011

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.

The remarkably intact historic storefront at 143 East 13th Street paints a picture of a bygone era

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.

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Elizabeth
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Elizabeth Finkelstein was GVSHP's Director of Preservation & Research from Summer 2008 to January 2012.

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3 comments on “Cornell Edwards of The Flower Stall, 1932-2011
  1. Elizabeth co moed says:

    I am just devastated to hear of Cornell’s passing. He and his cat have been more than just dear neighbors to me. Several years ago, I wrote about the unexpected history I had with him and the Flower Stall.

    http://myprivateconey.blogspot.com/2009/05/sunday-memories-mothers-day-then.html

    My condolences to his family and friends and to all of us in the East Village.

  2. Elizabeth Heather says:

    Very sorry to hear of his passing. I bought several small plants there during the 80’s when I lived in the East Village. His shop was a stable landmark of intriguing eccentricity, which is not the paradox it seems. RIP, Cornell.

  3. Elizabeth Charles DeFanti says:

    I dropped by today to buy a cactus and pick up the thread of the kibitz Cornell and I always enjoyed. We went to NYU within the same decade, knew many of the same people, read the same writers, practiced the same politics. An hour later, the shock of his passing is just setting in. A neighborhood icon is gone, and with him still a bit more of the old Village flavor. This witty, intelligent man leaves behind many saddened neighbors.
    Charles DeFanti

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