GVSHP has now made available on our website a classic preservation and architectural history resource — the booklet Nineteenth Century Dwelling Houses of Greenwich Village produced by the Association of Village Homeowners in 1968 and reprinted in 1969. You can view it here.
The Association of Village Homeowners was a community group founded in 1960 in response to development within what would become the Greenwich Village Historic District. The goal of the association was “the preservation of the human scale, the improvement of Village parks, and the enjoyment of the amenities of Village life. Before the formation of block associations, the Association coordinated community projects such as tree planting and also worked to foster landmark preservation through education.” Over its more than forty year existence, the Association would be involved in important local preservation battles including those to save the Old Merchants House (now the Merchants House Museum), Jefferson Market Courthouse, and 75 1/2 Bedford Street; and battles against the Lower Manhattan Expressway, Westway, and many others. We thank Aura Levitas, longtime village resident and former Treasurer of the Association, for this great donation.
In 1968, prior to the April, 1969 designation of the Greenwich Village Historic District, the Association’s Landmarks Committee published a guidebook to the architectural styles of Greenwich Village rowhouses, titled Nineteenth Century Dwelling Houses of Greenwich Village. We were contacted several weeks ago by a longtime Association member after she found several copies of the 1969 guidebook reprint in her attic. The content is as accurate today as it was 48 years ago, as it covers many of the highly valued styles of the neighborhood including Federal, Greek Revival, Anglo-Italianate, and others.
The book was written by preservation pioneer Verna Small, who discusses the founding of the Association in her GVSHP Oral History conducted in May, 1996. Regina Kellerman, GVSHP’s first Executive Director, architectural historian, and preservationist, helped develop the book. Others involved included the first Director of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Columbia University Professor of Architecture James Grote VanDerpool; Dean McClure of the A.I.A, who provided the architectural drawings; and photographer John Barrington Bayley.
To show architectural styles, the book uses buildings within the neighborhood, some of which have been altered since 1969. For example, page six of the book describes 132 West 4th Street. We can see the door and first floor windows have been slightly altered, while the beautiful doorway of 59 Morton Street described on page five, considered by James VanDerpool to be “one of the most handsomest in the City,” remains unchanged.