White Brick in the South Village
Thinking of white glazed brick buildings can conjure images of boxy post-war high rises on the Upper East Side, but almost fifty years before they came into vogue, white brick homes were sprouting in the South Village. In addition to the well-known Mills House on Bleecker Street, five unique tenements designed by Louis A. Sheinart for Italian-born builder and real estate developer Dominick Abbate can be found south of Houston Street in the currently un-designated portion of GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District. They are at: 150-152 Sullivan Street, 90-92 Thompson Street, 101-103 Thompson Street, 132-136 Thompson Street, and 152-54 Thompson Street.
Around 1911, Abbate established the Citizen’s Investing Company, which built the structures between 1911 and 1914. They are all clad in glazed white brick, which we can only assume was chosen because it symbolized health and cleanliness.
Each building is a six-story walk up and their floor plans are configured like an ‘H,’ with light courts to either side and in the rear.
GVSHP’s South Village Historic District proposal notes that “Plans for 150-152 Sullivan Street show seven apartments per floor, ranging in size from three to four rooms. Some apartments have separate kitchens and “parlors,” while others have the kitchen and parlor combined into a single “living room.” Each apartment had a double wash tub and a toilet closet, but no bath. Nothing is known about the genesis of these projects, how conditions in these buildings compare with those in contemporary tenements, or how they were marketed.”
You can learn more about the unique buildings that can be found in the South Village here. To make sure these and the others like them are saved for the future, write to Mayor de Blasio and the Landmarks Preservation Commission today, urging that the City move ahead with GVSHP’s proposed extension of landmark and zoning protections to the entire South Village.