We were intrigued to discover late last week that 264 East 7th Street, one of our favorite houses in the East Village, is for sale. Located between Avenues C & D, the 1842 Greek Revival house is part of a row of six that survive from when the block was first developed. They are distinguished today by their facades, painted in various pastel shades.
EV Grieve points out that Felicia Bond was living in the garden duplex of this house when she illustrated ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.’ We’ve always admired the home from the front, but we truly fell in love after seeing Corcoran’s photo of the garden, which we we can well imagine would inspire any number of whimsical childrens’ books.
We are huge fans of this historically-significant and beautiful block, which we blogged about once before. Because we’ve done research on every single building in the entire East Village, we know that East 7th Street between Avenues C & D was known in its heyday as “Political Row” for the preponderance of important political figures that lived there in the mid-to-late 19th century.
Alphabet City was once known as the Dry Dock neighborhood. No. 264 East 7th Street and the other houses on what later became “Political Row” were originally built to houses merchants associated with the shipbuilding industry that had crept uptown from the Corlears Hook area. By the 1830s, shipyards extended in practically an unbroken line along the East River bordering what we now call the East Village (for more information on the Dry Dock neighborhood, read part 2 in our series of posts devoted to 143-145 Avenue D, which played a critical role in the early development of the neighborhood).
The streets in Alphabet City were once lined almost entirely with rowhouses similar to those on East 7th Street. Other survivors from this period can be found scattered throughout Alphabet City, such as at 285 & 287 East 3rd Street, where a pair of lovely, intact 1837 Greek Revival “sister” buildings stand as proud reminders of this first wave of neighborhood development.
Though many of these early rowhouses have survived, we have seen the destruction of others take place right under our noses. Last year we lost a devastating battle to save two intact c. 1838 Greek Revival rowhouses at 326 & 328 East 4th Street, one of which was developed by the builder of the first steamship ever to cross the Atlantic Ocean. With one swing of the wrecking ball, 170 years of history were obliterated.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is considering designating two small historic districts in the East Village: one on the block of East 10th Street that borders the north end of Tompkins Square, and the other centered around Second Avenue south of St. Mark’s Place. While we are thrilled with this important first step in the preservation of this neighborhood, we are urging the LPC to consider also landmarking other parts of the neighborhood such as East 7th Street and the rest of the Dry Dock neighborhood, which contribute no less to the significant history of the East Village and are equally as deserving of protection. In the meantime, we can only hope that the new owner of 264 East 7th Street, this lovely remnant of a golden era in the neighborhood’s history, understands and appreciates the necessity to maintain its beauty for future generations.
Show your support for landmarking the East Village! If these first districts are not approved, there is little hope for preserving the rest of the neighborhood. The Landmarks Subcommittee and Parks Committee of Community Board 3 only narrowly voted to support landmarking; the next step is a vote by the full board. You can speak up in support of landmarking at the Community Board 3 Full Board hearing on July 26th (details below). If you plan to attend, please let us know!
Community Board 3 Full Board Meeting
July 26th, 6:00pm
Rose Auditorium at Cooper Union