Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn
New York City is abuzz with the latest news that nearly 100 proposed landmarks are to be “decalendered” by the NYC Landmarks Commission. Calendaring is considered the first step towards in landmarking process, something the The New York Times describes as an acknowledgment that a property is worthy of consideration for protection, at which point hearings and votes follow.” The properties selected for decalendaring have been on the list more than 5 years without a vote, and 80 have sat for more than 20 years. The properties, which include two proposed historic districts, fall in all five boroughs. In this article, we will highlight some of the most unique in each borough that will likely fall under this de-calendering.
LPC chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan contends that “It seemed to me that there was something problematic of having so many properties that we were just holding onto.” On the other hand, tour guide Justin Ferate commented on his mailing list that “To arbitrarily halt the legally stipulated process for Landmark designation – especially since these structures are all serious candidates for Landmark designation–is a violation of the basic principles of Landmark Preservation.”
The wildly eclectic United Palace Theater at 175th Street was the last of the five Loew’s Wonder Theaters in New York City. Designed by Thomas Lamb, the theater could seat nearly 3,300. In 1969, it was saved from possible demolition by the Reverend Frederick J. Eikerenkoetter II who turned the theater into a church.
Image via Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery, built as a rural cemetery, is visited by an estimated half a million locals and tourists a year. The grounds offer astounding views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline and the New York Harbor. The vast 478 acres is the home to 560,000 deceased who include Civil War veterans, Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Samuel Morse. They commissioned some of the city’s greatest architects to build their final resting places. Have a look inside the catacombs at Green-Wood.
Snug Harbor on Staten Island was founded in 1801 by Captain Robert Richard Randall as a home for retired seamen. The retirement community at Snug Harbor opened in 1833 and remained open until the 1960s when it was moved to Sea Level, North Carolina. In 1965, Snug Harbor was declared a National Historic Landmark, which called it “a rare surviving example of mid-19th-century urban planning, architecture, and landscaping.” Snug Harbor reopened in 1976 as a cultural/art institution with a sprawling campus-like setting, including a botanic garden, a theater, a chapel, a farm, museums and cottages. Also at risk on Staten Island is Cunard Hall at Wagner College, the former mansion of the Cunard family.
Image via Flickr by Emilio Guerra
On quaint City Island, the Historic Districts Council writes that the house at 65 Schofield Street deserves landmarking because “the building is a remarkable example of Italianate farmhouse design with Greek Revival elements, characterized by a square plan, tall windows, flat roof with an overhanging cornice and elaborate brackets. The building’s most striking feature is the one-story porch which runs across the width of the building. Fantastically, the main body of the house is still clad in its original wood clapboard, which, admittedly, is in desperate need of repair, but serves to evoke a sense of architectural antiquity in a way much more common to small New England towns than The Bronx. Aside from its obvious architectural excellence, research has uncovered direct connections between this building and the Pell and Schofield families, prominent families who were deeply involved with the development of City Island.
This Art Moderne pumping station, built by the Public Works Administration in 1937 was noted by the LPC as significant in 1977, though it was already in some disrepair. The architect Irwin S. Chanin also designed the Century and Majestic apartment houses on Central Park West and the Art Deco Chanin Building on 42nd Street. The AIA Guide in 1989 writes, “The streamlined but decaying remnant was once guarded by two pairs of prancing steeds, now removed to the Brooklyn Museum sculpture garden. Too bad. Coney needed to keep this piece of architectural history.”
On the Upper West Side, St. Michael’s Episcopal Church has one of the largest collections of Tiffany windows in the original location.
The Edgar J. Kaufmann Conference Center at the UN Plaza was commissioned by the family that also built Fallingwater, by Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s only one of four surviving works by Finnish Modernist architects Alvar and Alissa Aalto.
Other notable spots include Bergdorf Goodman Department Store on Fifth Avenue, interior of the Osborne Apartments near Carnegie Hall that include mosaics, murals by John La Farge, glass by Tiffany and sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens; St. Barbara’s Roman Catholic Church in Bushwick, the Spanish Towers, an apartment building in Jackson Heights, Queens named one of the 6 to Celebrate by the Historic Districts Council.