Why Isn’t This Landmarked?: 32 East 10th Street, Home of artist Franz Kline

This post is part of our blog series Why Isn’t This Landmarked?, where we look at buildings in our area we’re fighting to protect that are worthy of landmark designation, but somehow aren’t landmarked.

32 East 10th Street

This beautifully intact c. 1870 building at 32 East 10th Street was designed by W. Field & Son for Henry Naylor and altered in 1885 following a fire. It was originally built as a residence and it continued to serve in that capacity until the end of the 19th century. Following an alteration in 1898, directories show that its use switched from residential to manufacturing. By the mid-1950s, this area on the eastern edge of Greenwich Village straddling what we would today call the East Village became the center of the art world, particularly the “New York School’ of Abstract Expressionist artists.  No. 32 East 10th Street was no exception; its top floor became the home and studio of abstract expressionist painter Franz Kline.

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Business of the Month: Madame Matovu – 240 West 10th Street

Your input is needed! Today we feature our latest Business of the Month — help us to select the next. Tell us which independent store you love in Greenwich Village, the East Village, or NoHo: click here to nominate your favorite. Want to help support small businesses? Share this post with friends.

New York is full of fashion and vintage shops, but few can fit as much magic into a jewel box-sized store as our December Business of the Month.

Madame Matovu at 240 West 10th Street is a portal from the hustle and bustle of the city and into a place of calm and creativity where both modest beauty and flamboyant fashion are equally on display.

The curator of this stage of fantasy and creativity is Rosemary Wettenhall, a longtime New Yorker by way of Uganda.  Her many trips to Paris and across the world to satiate her taste for travel and things of beauty help to inspire and stock her unique West Village shop.

www.instagram.com/madamematovu

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Beyond the Village and Back: The Queensboro Bridge

In our series Beyond the Village and Back, we take a look at some great landmarks throughout New York City outside of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo, celebrate their special histories, and reveal their (sometimes hidden) connections to the Village.

The Queensboro Bridge, built in 1909, was the first bridge linking Queens to Manhattan. Directly connecting Midtown Manhattan to booming Long Island City and used by millions of commuters each year, this amazing and still free bridge is also an architectural and engineering marvel.  While perhaps not quite as beloved as the Brooklyn Bridge, it’s certainly near and dear to the hearts of many New Yorkers, and has developed its own revered spot in the popular consciousness over the years.  There may be other quicker or more convenient ways to get across the East River, but many chose to drive, bike, walk or run across the bridge because of the magnificent views it affords of the East River, Roosevelt Island, and Manhattan and the beautiful iron latticework with which it surrounds commuters.

While the Queensboro Bridge goes nowhere near the neighborhood, it does in fact owe a fair share of its mythic status to Greenwich Village.

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The Real Auntie Mame

This is one in a series of posts marking the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District.  Check out our year-long activities and celebrations at gvshp.org/GVHD50

The kooky, sparkling Auntie Mame — the central character of Patrick Dennis’ beloved novel of the same name — burst into popular culture the same way she entered a party. Auntie Mame: An Irreverent Escapade, is the portrait of one of the most iconic female characters of twentieth-century literature, told from the perspective of Auntie Mame’s 10-year-old nephew, the recently-orphaned Patrick. Greenwich Village is as much a part of the landscape of the story as the eponymous central figure, who part way through the book moves to “a big old mansion on Washington Square.”  The Auntie Mame of literary, stage, and cinematic fame both reflected and was the product of an eccentric aunt and nephew pair which in fact lived much of their lives in Greenwich Village.

Rosalind Russell playing Auntie Mame in the 1958 movie. Photo courtesy of Warner/Sportsphoto/Allstar via The Guardian.

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Why Isn’t This Landmarked?: 72 Fifth Avenue, Appleton & Co. Headquarters

Part of our blog series Why Isn’t This Landmarked?, where we look at buildings in our area we’re fighting to protect that are worthy of landmark designation, but somehow aren’t landmarked.

This almost perfectly intact late 19th-century masonry structure is not only an outstanding example of the Romanesque Revival style, but its occupancy over the years reflects the area’s prominent connection to the publishing industry, left-wing political movements, and perhaps most surprisingly, the tobacco industry. Nevertheless, despite requests by Village Preservation to landmark this and surrounding buildings as part of a historic district, the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has failed to do so. Today, we take a closer look at 72 Fifth Avenue, and ask: why isn’t this landmarked?

History

In 1893 Marx and Moses Ottinger (whose son, Albert Ottinger, would become the first Jewish major party candidate for Governor of New York in 1928, losing by less than 1% of the vote to Franklin Roosevelt) and Isidore and Max Korn, built the new headquarters and a store for the Appleton & Company publishers at 72 Fifth Avenue. At the end of the 19th century, the area just south of 14th Street was developing into a vital center for the publishing world, making this site the perfect new home for the publishing company. Here as in many other buildings in this area, this type of use would continue well into the 20th century.

Appleton & Company was founded in 1825 by Daniel Appleton. By the time 72 Fifth Avenue was constructed, it was one of the leading and fastest-growing publishers in the country. The company also distinguished itself with the prestigious writers and works it published, including Edith Wharton, Henry James, Charles Darwin, and William Cullen Bryant. They published the first U.S. edition of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and during the time they operated out of 72 Fifth Avenue published Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, considered one of the most important American novels and the work which made Crane (who lived nearby just south of Washington Square) a household name.

The building was designed by Cleverdon & Putzel, architects of several of the many impressive buildings in this area. It is a stunning example of the Romanesque Revival style. To this day, it retains almost all of its exterior façade detail, including at the ground floor — a rare occurrence in this area especially given the age of the building.

The whole design is a seamless mix of contradictory elements: rough and smooth, simple and ornate, uniform and free-form. At the front façade, pink granite engaged columns line the storefront along Fifth Avenue with ionic capitals. Spanning the second and third levels are unusual piers of stacked quarry-faced stones lending a sense of solidity to the base of the structure. Almost in contrast to the piers are their finely ornamented capitals all supporting a simple classical cornice with Greek keys running the widths of both facades. Romanesque arches which are two bays wide at the West 13th Street façade and three bays wide at the corner and Fifth Avenue façade span the sixth floor resting on piers of smooth ashlar stone that run the height of the fourth and fifth floors. At the top floor small windows are placed in accordance with the rhythm of the fenestration below and the cornice at the top is highly ornamented and features unusual brackets with women’s faces. At the corner of the building is slender finial at the top three stories.

In 1896 Louis L. Lorillard (1849-1910) purchased the building. He was one of four sons of Pierre Lorillard III (1796- 1867), real estate speculator and heir to the New York-based P. Lorillard Tobacco Company. Louis was touted as one of the wealthiest young men in New York upon his father’s death.

By 1902, Appleton & Company grew too big for the space and moved out of 72 Fifth Avenue, allowing smaller tenants to take its place. In 1915 Philip Morris & Co. Ltd. leased the building, which became known as the Philip Morris building. Philip Morris would eventually become the largest tobacco seller in the United States.

In 1946 the building would return to its roots when the educational publishing firm of Ginn & Co. purchased it. The firm had been nearby at 70 Fifth Avenue for the previous sixty years. Other publishers joined Ginn & Co. including Longman, Inc. and Penguin Books by 1976. In 1979 publisher Hamilton Fish moved his magazine The Nation, the oldest continuously published weekly in the country, to the building. First founded in 1865, The Nation covered culture and politics, and called itself “the flagship of the left.” The choice of this location was unsurprising given the area’s history not only as a center of publishing but of left-wing political activity.

Today

The magnificent architectural design of 72 Fifth Avenue paired with the vast amount of history connected to the building should make it, as well as much of its surroundings, a clear choice for landmarking or historic district designation. There are very few buildings without landmark protections that survive and stay in as good condition as the Appleton & Co building. According to Daytonian in Manhattan, “Today the building is home to the New School University’s Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy.  Although the fantastic pointed finial on the roof long ago disappeared, the building looks much as it did when Appleton & Co. first opened its doors in June 1894.” It is nothing short of remarkable a structure like this one is still extant. This is why Village Preservation has presented all this information to the Landmarks Preservation Commission about this building and the surrounding area, but thus far the Landmarks Preservation Commission has refused to act.

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Even More Daytonian in Greenwich Village

This is one in a series of posts marking the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District.  Check out our year-long activities and celebrations at gvshp.org/GVHD50

On April 29th, 2019, we launched our new interactive map, Greenwich Village Historic District, 1969-2019: Photos and Tours, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District. In the months since we have been expanding the map, both adding new tours and adding new entries to existing tours. In addition to showing images of every one of the over 2,200 buildings in the Greenwich Village Historic District as they looked in 1969 and today, we now have over 800 sites that appear on various tours exploring the architecture, history, and culture of New York City’s largest historic district.

One particular set of recent additions appears on our “Daytonian in Manhattan” tour, a tour of sites in the Greenwich Village Historic District from the blog ‘Daytonian in Manhattan’ by author and historian Tom Miller. The Daytonian blog provides thoroughly-researched and in-depth accounts of the histories of buildings and monuments throughout Manhattan (just go to www.gvshp.org/GVHD50tour and click on the links for this and other tours).  Here are some of the highlights of the recent additions:

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Daytonian in Greenwich Village

This is one in a series of posts marking the 50th anniversary of the designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District.  Check out our year-long activities and celebrations at gvshp.org/GVHD50

On April 29th, 2019, we launched our new interactive map, Greenwich Village Historic District, 1969-2019: Photos and Tours, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Historic District. In the months since we have been expanding the map, both adding new tours and adding new entries to existing tours. In addition to showing images of every one of the over 2,200 buildings in the Greenwich Village Historic District as they looked in 1969 and today, we now have over 800 sites that appear on various tours exploring the architecture, history, and culture of New York City’s largest historic district.

Village Preservation’s GVHD50 Map tour of the Daytonian in Manhattan

One particular set of recent additions appears on our “Daytonian in Manhattan” tour, a tour of sites in the Greenwich Village Historic District from the blog ‘Daytonian in Manhattan’ by author and historian Tom Miller. The Daytonian blog provides thoroughly-researched and in-depth accounts of the histories of buildings and monuments throughout Manhattan (just go to www.gvshp.org/GVHD50tour and click on the links for this and other tours).  Here are some of the highlights of the new additions:

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Womens’ Empowerment and Colonial Evangelism Converge at 11 East 12th Street

When doing research on buildings in our area, you never know what you may find. We try to exhume and bring to light all the history we find — the good, the bad, and the ugly — because there are always important lessons to be learned.

One such case is 11 East 12th Street, a ca. 1840 rowhouse that the City has recently identified as “of no historic significance” and ripe for demolition and replacement by an office tower, even though our research shows that the great artists Reginald Marsh and J. Alden Weir both lived and worked here.

But we found some other interesting residents here too, attached to some other surprising history that sheds a lot of light on life in America in the 19th century. According to our research, in 1873 and 1874, a “Mrs. Mills” and a “Miss E. McVickar” both lived at 11 East 12th Street. Though little is known about these women today, at the time both were actively involved in something called “the Niobrara League of New York,” which was part of a larger network of missionary organizations seeking to evangelize and “civilize” Native American communities across the nation. The League was also a branch of the Woman’s Auxiliary to the Board of Missions of the Protestant Episcopal Church, which transformed the role of women in the Church and gave them unprecedented authority in the institution’s missionary efforts.

11 East 12th Street, 2019.

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Why Isn’t This Landmarked?: 88 East 10th Street

This post is part of our blog series Why Isn’t This Landmarked?, where we look at buildings in our area we’re fighting to protect that are worthy of landmark designation, but somehow aren’t landmarked. 

88 East 10th Street is an 1844 Greek Revival row house located on the small block between 3rd and 4th Avenues. This house was built by Peter Stuyvesant, a direct descendant of the last Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam, on land that the Stuyvesant family continued to own for generations. Additionally, the building is extraordinarily significant in relation to 20th-century art and the development of New York as the center of the art world after World War II, as the home and studio of artist Willem de Kooning, and the center of the 10th Street Galleries.

Willem de Kooning in the doorway of 88 East 10th Street. April 5, 1959. Photo © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah

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Shop ’til You Drop on Bleecker Street!

On Saturday, November 23rd, get a jump on your holiday shopping and support small business at this year’s #ShopBleecker Day as part of the month-long promotion of small businesses along this local thoroughfare. Participating businesses will be offering great deals, giveaways, and discounts. There will also be some fantastic prize packages valued at $2,000 each being raffled off to shoppers. And as if that wasn’t enough, tomorrow they will also be holding their Sip and Shop event and the ten blocks west of Sixth Avenue will be transformed into a cocktail party with sips and nibbles.

 

#ShopBleecker started two years ago as an attempt to revitalize the area plagued with empty storefronts.  Since then more than two dozen new businesses moved into the neighborhood and the Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce wants to celebrate. You can visit www.shopbleecker.nyc for a list of participating businesses, deals, and events. Village Preservation will be contributing to the celebration today with a walking tour highlighting the architecture and history of this bustling thoroughfare. Here are some of the participating businesses which also happened to be Village Preservation Businesses of the Month and/or Village Preservation Village Awardees.

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