On this day in history…

It was on March 3, 1967, that Ingrid and Sven Bernhard purchased the lot at 121 Charles Street in the West Village. It was just a vacant lot, but that’s what they needed. You see, the Bernhards had just acquired the house of their dreams, a charming little old wooden farmhouse. You might think I’m talking about someplace out in farm country, far away from the city. But the farmhouse that belonged to the Bernhards was on York Avenue, in the Yorkville section of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and it needed to be re-located.

121 Charles Street, present day

121 Charles Street, present day

What a history this little house has! (You can read more about it here, here, and here.) No one knows exactly when this house was built, but a good guess is the early 1800s. Yorkville, like the rest of New York City, was a very different place in the early 1800s than it is now. But, like other neighborhoods, it grew, and saw more and more buildings constructed as more and more people moved in.

So somewhere around 1869, a two-story brick residence was built in front of the little farmhouse, effectively blocking if from view. The little house may have been out of the public’s eyes, but it was busy, spending time as part of a dairy, then a restaurant, then back to residential use by the 1940’s. In 1960, Sven Bernhard rented it – and spent a lot time repairing it – and in 1964 he married Ingrid and she moved in.


Almost everything around the little house has been demolished in this 1966 photo!

But in 1965, the owners of the house (members of the Glass family, who had owned it since the 1860s) sold the house to the New York Archdiocese, which was planning to build a home for the aged on that site. So the Bernhards were told to vacate their rental home, and they didn’t like that. They reached an agreement that gave them ownership of the house on the condition that they remove it from the site. Ingrid walked all over the Yorkville area but couldn’t find anyplace. They hired an architect to help them move the house, and he found the lot on Charles Street. So, on March 3rd, 1967, Ingrid and Sven bought the lot at 121 Charles Street, and two days later, they moved their dream house on a flatbed truck, down Second Avenue and over 14th Street to a warm welcome in Greenwich Village!



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Ted Ted is the Director of Programs at GVSHP.