Finding Out More About New York City Buildings Research
An Off the Grid reader contacted us to ask for more background information and history about the buildings mentioned in last week’s e-newsletter “Pushing the Envelope in the West Village“. Fortunately, with the resources available on GVSHP’s website, finding out more information on buildings in our neighborhood is generally pretty easy to do — we’ll walk you through it.
The easiest properties to research are those located in a historic district, such as 823 Greenwich Street/66 Horatio Street, located in the Greenwich Village Historic District. All you have to do is go to our website resources page, click on Historic District and Individual Landmark Designation Reports, Maps,and Photos, and download the designation report for the district, which has historic info on every building in it. In this case, you would click on Historic Districts and find the and download the Greenwich Village Historic District designation report. You would search for the address or location, and find (under 66 Horatio):
“Typically Greek Revival in style, these five handsome row houses [58-66 Horatio Street] were all erected in 1845-46 on land which, until 1844, had been owned by the Ireland family. The Irelands sold the lots to two cartmen, Cornelius Ackerman, who lived at No. 58, and Peter Van Natter at No. 62. They in turn sold to Abraham Demarest, a neighborhood builder, who should be credited with building the row…The corner four-story building, also known as No. 825 Greenwich Street, was sold by Demarest to Henry E. Clark, a grocer whose living quarters were above his store. The ground floor has been smoothstuccoed and a fire escape covers most of the narrow facade. The original lintels of the period have been covered with sheetmetal, but the stone sills are unchanged. The tin cornices over the low windows of the fourth floor come up against the siryple fascia board, creating an interesting pattern. The one-story extension on the rear of the lot, on Greenwich Street, is a Twentieth Century addition.”
The properties located at 51 and 55 Carmine Street were in our original proposed South Village Historic District but are not in the designation reports because they were cut out of the landmark district designated by the City in 2010. However, they are part of the South Village State and National Register Historic District that GVSHP got designated in 2012. This report can be found on our resources page under Historic District and Individual Landmark Designation Reports, Maps,and Photos. If you click on Historic Districts, followed by South Village Historic District, you will find State and National Register Report stating:
Carmine Street, north side between Bedford Street and Seventh Avenue South
51, northwest corner Bedford Street. Unknown architect for William Topham, 1845 One, three-story row house. Alterations: facade stripped and refaced with brick on first story probably replacing a nineteenth-century storefront (1961) and stucco above; cornice removed and replaced by parapet. Redesign similar to no. 57.
53-55. circa 1930. One, one-story, brick garage.
Properties that are not landmarked nor located in a historic district, such as 74-76 8th Avenue, are a little harder for the average person to research. Although GVSHP plans on eventually putting all our research online, if you want information on a certain property you would have to follow in the footsteps of many past and present GVSHP research interns and make your way down to the municipal archives located in the Surrogates Court/Hall of Records at 31 Chambers Street.
Once there, you will have to sort through the hundreds of thousands of Department of Buildings records dating back to the 1860’s. If you are researching a building built prior to the 1860’s you will need to review the less detailed Tax Assessment records.
In the case of 74-76 8th Avenue, we found it was built in 1930 as a two-story building. The original owner was 254 West 15th Street Corporation, architect: unknown. 254 and 256 West 14th Street, just to the east and also part of the development parcel, were constructed as houses some time in the mid-19th century, though our research has not yet uncovered the exact dates of construction.