293 and 297 West 4th Street: Then & Now
At 293 and 297 West 4th Street, between Bank and West 11th Streets in the Greenwich Village Historic District, sit two new townhouses that, at first glance, look like three. The façade of no. 293 was designed to resemble two three-bay wide rowhouses that are prevalent in the neighborhood, but in actuality it is one residence. Looking closer, one realizes there is only one entry door, without a stoop, at the southernmost end of the building.
One may also think, while walking along the street, that no. 293 and its more modern-looking neighbor at no. 297 were always three-story buildings that had been refaced in recent years. Yet, the c. 1940 tax photograph reveals that this was not the case. The black-and-white photograph, which has the photographer’s assistant pointing the block and lot sign at 291 West 4th Street, reveals that nos. 293 and 297 were once one building stretched over three lots.
The building entry for this property in the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) designation report, written in 1969, reads, “This two-story brick building, with bold cornice, houses a bakery which serves the neighborhood. It was erected in 1910-11 for Christian Yore by J. J. Smith.” The building sat between two Federal rowhouses, built in 1827 and later altered to accommodate additional floors, which still exist today.
Fast forward to 2005 when a Certificate of Appropriateness application was submitted to the LPC for a new residence at no. 293, and another one was submitted in 2006 for no. 297. Both applications were ultimately approved. In their decisions, the LPC noted that the former building had, in addition to a bakery, served as a dwelling and stable over the years. It also mentioned that “the 1910 bakery building was altered to its current condition shortly before designation and presently appears as two separate facades, each with separate ownership.”
Two new three-story buildings were later built. At no. 293, work included demolishing the bakery building’s façade, recladding it in brick with a brownstone base and metal cornice, constructing a third story and setback penthouse, and a number of other details. The façade at no. 297 was replaced with a grey wire cut brick wall and three studio windows, and a two-story rooftop addition. It is interesting to compare the two new buildings side by side, as they are very different approaches which emerged from the bones of the same two-story bakery building.