1 West 123rd Street
One of the homes on the Mount Morris Park Historic House Tour, built for founder of Arm and Hammer baking soda

The Mount Morris Park Community Improvement Association (MMPCIA) will cast a spotlight on the distinctive way area residents have taken design into their homes and businesses, with the theme of this year’s historic house tour, “Old Places, New Spaces.”  This annual tour, located in the Mount Morris Historic District, will take place next Sunday, June 14th.  The starting point will be at the Pelham Fritz Recreation Center in Marcus Garvey Park–home to the historic Harlem Fire Watchtower, and will include ten homes including a mansion in mid-restoration, brownstone homes in a range of styles with period details, live-work spaces, and more. Here’s a preview of what you’ll see:

A view down West 123rd Street, one of the many streets on the tour

One of the homes on the tour (below) was originally the home of the creator of Arm and Hammer baking soda, John Dwight. Also known as The Dwight Mansion, this Renaissance Revival townhouse was built in 1889-1890 by the architect Frank H. Smith.In the early 1960s, the home was occupied by the Commandment Keepers Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation.  After lengthy litigation, it is now privately owned, renovated, and is on the list of ten homes open on the tour.

Also known as The Dwight Mansion
Also known as The Dwight Mansion, the home sits across the street from Mount Morris Park

Lenox Avenue has watched and waited for the opening of ChaiWali, getting a peek inside the owners living space on the upper floors of her brownstone, thanks to the New York Times, last year.  The brownstone’s restaurant and living space will be open for the first time during this tour.

Chai Wali
ChaiWali located on the first two floors of a late 19th century brownstone on Lenox Avenue. Photo by Lynn Lieberman.

‘Old Place, New Spaces’ also showcases how diverse this Harlem neighborhood has become, with the owner of ChaiWali, Anita Trehan originally from India and the owner of Cheri’, Alain Eoche’s, from France.  “Our City continues to evolve, seeing new construction, green buildings, live/work combinations, elegant outdoor spaces and more.  I think that’s illustrative of the rich tapestry of nationalities, cultures and histories that are characteristic of Central Harlem and our altogether pleasing fusion of past, present and future”, said Sam McClendon, president of the MMPCIA, in a recent conversation.

The door on the left is Alain Eoche’s home. It will be open for the tour and conveniently located next to his restaurant, Cher’

The self-guided part of the tour will run from 11 am to 4 pm, with the ten homes running from West 119th Street to West 123rd Street. In addition, this year there will be a culinary component reflecting Harlem’s dining destinations on Lenox Avenue.  From 11 am to 3pm, historian Michael Henry Adams will conduct a guided tour and tasting through Historic Harlem along Lenox Avenue, stopping at five Mount Morris Park restaurants.  Participants will meet the restaurant proprietors and chefs and sample food and drinks.  Stops include Harlem Shake, BLVD Bistro, Cheri’, Barawine and Settepani.

2 West 123rd Street

Tickets for the general tour are $25 for online early birds, $30 in advance also online and $35 on the day of the event.  A limited number of tickets are available for the restaurant tasting tour at $100 early bird and $120 in advance – which includes an all-access pass to the self-guided tour as well.  At 2pm, preservation architect Angel Ayon will conduct a walking tour to the Acropolis, high atop the Marcus Garvey Park, where he will discuss the current Fire Watchtower history and restoration.  There will be music at several locations along Lenox Avenue and at the Mount Morris Ascension Church overlooking the Park.

Mount Morris Park West
Mount Morris Park West

Event co-chair Don Williams explains, “We have always tried to make this a welcoming event that allows visitors a glimpse into the lives of Harlemites and an opportunity to discover this beautiful part of Manhattan.  In fact, many current homeowners in the area credit the tour with convincing them to buy their homes in the neighborhood.  That’s a source of pride for us.”  The event is easy to get to by way of the #2 or #3 subway to either 116th Street or 125th Street – with a short walk on Lenox Avenue to any of the streets between 120th and 124th, walk east 1 block to the Park.

You can contact the author at AFineLyne