On October 30, 2007, GVSHP submitted a request to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission that they consider 101 Avenue A (6th/7th Streets) in the East Village as an individual New York City landmark. The request attracted quite a bit of attention, and was soon referred to as a push to make the building New York City’s first “drag landmark.”
Hyperbole aside, the building had many unique and compelling layers which strongly appealed to us. Built in 1876, 101 Avenue A was designed by German-born William Jose, a prolific and unsung tenement house architect whose work had a great visual impact upon the immigrant neighborhoods of Lower Manhattan. Jose pulled out all the stops for this “tenement” design, which features lyrical and elaborate ironwork, florid incised neo-Grec detailing on its lintels and a vibrant interplay of colors and materials on its facade. Aesthetics aside, the nearly century and a half old building almost continuously housed a social gathering space in its ground floor — first a social and labor union hall, which was a center for the local German-American community, and later as a seminal performance space for the likes of Rupaul, Madonna and Nirvana, as well as a burgeoning politically-conscious drag performance art scene that emerged from the East Village in the 1980s. Oh, and Nico of Velvet Undergorund fame lived here during her tenure with the band.