Volume 74, Number 42 | February 23 - March 01, 2005

New dark red bricks, at left, being installed on repaired building facades at Greenwich and 11th Sts. don’t match original orange bricks.

Annie get your (original) bricks, preservationists say

The latest development in the two-and-a-half-year effort to get celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz to repair her damaged 1830s landmarked townhouses on Greenwich St. has seen her workers allegedly install bricks that were not original to the building’s exterior.

A few months ago, Leibovitz’s workers finally began repair work on the facades of the buildings, which were damaged when her workers dug too low in one of the building’s basements, causing a wall to drop down a few inches, detaching from floors. However, according to Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, while the color of the building’s original bricks is somewhat orange, the “new” bricks are a darker red. Berman said the new brick may actually be old in terms of the date of fabrication but still does not match the original bricks’ color.

“We became very concerned when she began removing large chunks of the original 1830s bricks from the facades of the buildings, and we saw dumpsters full of what appeared to be the bricks ready to be disposed of,” he said. “Given that these are landmarked buildings, she is required to keep and reuse the original brick whenever possible. Her people assured us that she was doing exactly that, and that the brick we saw in the dumpsters was not from the facade exterior.

“The bricks clearly look so different,” he said. “As you can see, it’s very apparent that this is not a case of the original bricks from the facade having been removed and then kept and replaced in their original location, as they should have been; clearly, some other brick has been put in.”

Questions for Leibovitz were referred to her bookkeeper, Susan Setteducato, who did not return a call by press time.

Berman said the bricks are not even being put in in the appropriate pattern.

“What you have looks like a really bad patch job from the ‘What not To Do’ section of a home repair guide. We even got an independent expert to come in and take a look, who confirmed that the bricks are not the originals and that she is destroying the original facades.”

Berman said the Society is awaiting a response from the Landmarks Preservation Commission on the matter.

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