A Beautiful Surprise is Uncovered in the Village

15 8th Avenue before the plywood was removed, image courtesy Google

Until very recently, the storefront at 15 8th Avenue (between West 12th & Jane Streets) looked fairly typical. Part historic, part less-so, like many in the Village it had been altered over the years to accommodate turnover in commercial tenancy. But walking by recently, we noticed that the removal of a non-original panel above the show windows had exposed a beautiful remnant of yesteryear.

15 Eighth Avenue storefront

Victorian stained glass transoms now decorate the storefront. On close inspection, in vibrant shades of blue and gold they read “J. Yormark Shoes.” Small parts of the center transom have been lost, but the two on the sides are pretty much intact. Much of the color is masked under peeling paint.

"J. YORMARK"

"SHOES"

Curious, we dug a little deeper and uncovered a photo from 1929 that shows the presence of this store.

This stretch of 8th Avenue in 1929, courtesy NYPL

Zooming in, one can just barely make out the writing on the awning: J. Yormark Shoes.

Close-up of the awning reveals "J Yormark Shoes"

August 1939 NY Times article

Though the building itself dates all way back to 1845, this sign was probably added around the turn of the century. We know that it was there at least until 1939, when the New York Times recounted a theft at this location that was foiled in a rather comical manner. Apparently the thief selected a pair of shoes from the store and proceeded to steal from the cash register. He then tried to flee, but the shoes were too tight to run in!

This building is part of the Greenwich Village Historic District (you may read the designation report on our Resources page) and all changes to its exterior must be permitted by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. It is unclear whether or not the current owners knew about the stained glass, or if it they only just discovered it. Regardless, this begs the question: now that it’s been exposed, will they be required to keep it?

Well, that’s really up to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Whatever their decision, wouldn’t it be a shame to lose this?

To read about work being done on other landmarked buildings in the Village, check out or Landmarks Applications Webpage.


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avatar Elizabeth Finkelstein is GVSHP's Director of Preservation & Research.